CONNECTING NEW ISLANDERS TO THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY

Immigrant entrepreneurs, skilled workers bring an abundance of experience, resources and access to new markets that are enormously beneficial to the provincial economy. However, they are challenged by a lack of familiarity with the local business and work environment, and the absence of professional networks. A welcoming support system is needed to help them succeed in business in PEI.

On the Island, skilled workers and immigrant entrepreneurs access this support through PEI Connectors, where they are introduced to established business professionals who help familiarize them with local business community. Known as “connectors”, they volunteer their time to provide knowledge, access and contacts to clients who are launching, purchasing and/or investing in businesses in PEI.


MEET OUR CONNECTORS

Garima Mishra, Scrum Master at Maximus Canada DeltaWare Division

Before moving from India to PEI three and a half years ago, Garima Mishra had never been to North America. Now a Scrum Master at Maximus Canada DeltaWare Division, Garima offers her time as a Connector to share her experience with other newcomers.

Garima says PEI Connectors is a valuable source of help for newcomers, particularly when it comes to job-searching. “Finding a job is a critical part of settlement. For me, it was the main concern. To have people who can provide direction and share experiences on how to secure work is really helpful.”
 
She explains that what’s obvious to an Islander could be completely foreign to a newcomer, so what seems like a small help could make a big difference. “Connectors can help in all kinds of ways. It doesn’t take much. Even taking the time to discuss companies in an industry can be useful because it can be difficult to find a comprehensive list.” Through her involvement with PEI Connectors, Garima has connected with several other newcomers who share her background in IT. She helps identify which job postings are best suited to those she meets and provides insight on the roles available. She says, “It’s important to help people and I’m thankful I can do that now that I’m settled here.”
 

Lee McKinley, Manager of People Development at Biovectra

Upon moving to PEI in 2019, Lee McKinley immediately recognized the value of networking on the Island. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Lee was referred to the PEI Connectors program as a client before becoming a connector. Now the Manager of People Development at Biovectra, Lee says it’s been important for her to connect with other newcomers and help them navigate the employment journey however she can.


Having experienced the other side of the program, Lee is no stranger to the challenges that newcomers face. “It can be difficult to crack into a market when you’re a newcomer,” she says, “but it’s nice to be able to share my experience with people and assure them that it will happen.” Lee always encourages newcomers to put themselves out there, noting that networking and community involvement helps people get to know you beyond your resume. “You really have to work on making connections and getting your name out there … That can make all the difference.”
She’s witnessed the benefit of connections first-hand having previously connected a client with their current employer. “It’s a great feeling to help facilitate that and to see the program come full circle.”

Vivan Beer, Manager of HR Strategy at PEI BioAlliance

As a driving force for the bioscience sector, PEI BioAlliance continues to generate jobs for Islanders. With a range of opportunities available, Vivian Beer, Manager of HR Strategy at PEI BioAlliance, says it’s important to know what talent is coming into the province. Since becoming a Connector, Vivian has connected with newcomers of all different backgrounds, ages and levels of experience. She helps newcomers tap into job opportunities while connecting Island companies with the talent they need.
Acknowledging the power of networks on PEI, Vivian says “whether you’re moving from another country or another province, PEI has a unique culture … being part of a network gives you more familiarity with opportunities and how to approach them.”
Vivian often meets with PEI Connector clients to help them gain a better understanding of the bioscience sector and the companies within it. “I encourage them to ask any questions they may not want to ask potential employers. That gives them more confidence because they have a better understanding of the industry and companies they’re applying to.” Vivian has found that networking ultimately helps increase newcomer’s comfort level which can be key to landing opportunities – something that benefits both companies and new Islanders.

Steve Reaman, Business Development Officer at Innovation PE

Steve Reaman has been helping newcomers navigate PEI’s business landscape for over 20 years. As a Business Development Officer at Innovation PEI, Steve supports all kinds of entrepreneurs – many of whom are new to the Island. He’s regularly in touch with PEI Connectors to stay up-to-date on who’s new to the business community and what help they might need.
 
While most entrepreneurs require some guidance, he feels it’s especially important to connect with newcomers. “It’s critical for newcomers to have Island contacts that can help them along the way,” he says. “Between navigating cultural differences and, for many, a new language… I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to get into business on PEI without some assistance.”
 
Steve says programs like PEI Connectors help with community integration for newcomers. “If you look around PEI now you can see many different nationalities and hear many different languages. We’re becoming more and more multicultural.” As for the impact this has on the business community, Steve says newcomers bring a fresh perspective. “When you bring new people into the community – people from all over the world – they bring new ideas and new ways of doing things. It’s important.”
 

Jason Tompkins, Owner of TNT Tuna and One Tuna Inc.

When Jason Tompkins was asked to become a Connector, he was happy to jump aboard and provide insight to newcomer entrepreneurs. Jason sees great value in the PEI Connectors program having previously spent several years working in Spain.
 
“I know that doing business in another country can be very intimidating,” he says. “These people have risked a lot both personally and financially to come here and try to do something new, and PEI Connectors has created a great community to help them do that.”
 
From a business perspective, Jason feels that helping newcomer entrepreneurs benefits everyone involved. “Many newcomers are looking to export to countries around the world, so as a business owner, I see them as potential partners. If I can help them set up shop and become an expert here, not only does it grow our local economy which trickles down to our restaurants, grocery stores, real estate, and so on, but maybe there’s a possibility for synergy on one of my products as well.”
 
While not all connections lead to partnerships, Jason says, “it’s interesting what bonds you create. I met one guy and even though we don’t do any business together, we’re good friends now. We connect probably once a week.”


Be A Connector: A-OK Gardens and Papa Joes Story

Can You Be A Connector?

Connectors can be anyone with real work experience who are willing to share their knowledge. They could be the person you share a wall with or sit next to at lunch. They could be you or me. Whether you have a few years’ experience or are an executive, you have the potential to be a Connector.

As a Connector, what benefits
will you enjoy?

  1. Access to the newest talent group of skilled workers in the local community
  2. Satisfaction of opening doors and helping people succeed
  3. Pre-qualified candidates for reduced risk when hiring new employees

How does it work for Connectors?

  • You meet with our clients – skilled workers, graduates, immigrant entrepreneurs
  • You listen, ask questions and share knowledge of current market demands and the skills required in your field
  • After the meeting, you provide them with other industry contacts
  • You provide honest feedback to the clients through a PEI Connector Program Officers
  • Our clients follow-up with Connectors and begin to develop their own personal network

Connecting new Islanders to the Business community

Join these Connectors who help people achieve
their goals through PEI Connectors

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Networking that matters is helping people achieve their goals. – Simon Sinek –
The true value of networking doesn't come from how many people we can meet but rather how many people we can introduce to others. – Allan Collins –