It has struck me this week how valuable relationship-building is as I scramble to pull together the program for the upcoming Employer-Employment Expert Summit on June 5th. I've contacted a lot of people this week and have asked big favours. Thankfully, much of the groundwork in building these connections have been laid and we can expect an outstanding program, but there were certainly gaps in my relationships as well.
For example, take the session on Future Skills in Canada. This panel will be facilitated by Rishi Sharma, Director, Corporate Services & Intergovernmental Relations, Workforce Innovation Division & Division Responsible for Skills Training, Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. Rishi and his colleague, Laura Colpman (pictured at right after a Labour Market Roundtable in Fort St. John in 2017), have done an excellent job in maintaining contact with me; checking in every once in a while. If I have a question or an idea I need feedback on, I know that I can set up a meeting with Rishi and Laura and I can depend on their thoughtful and wise perspective.
Flying in from Ottawa for the same session is Rhonda Fernandez, Director of the Future Skills Office, Employment and Social Development Canada. She is tasked with the new Future Skills Centre and I had first met her colleague, Rachel Wernick, in 2018 along with her senior staff. Then a year later, when Rhonda was assigned the Future Skills project, I attended her session at Cannexus and participated in a panel with her at the First Work Amplify conference in Toronto in April. I have a great deal of respect for the work she is doing and her collaborative approach to the work. I am delighted that she is making the time in her very busy schedule to be a part of our Summit.
Finally, I was looking for someone who could sit on the panel who is working on one of the inaugural Future Skills projects and connected with the Immigrant Employment Council of BC's CEO, Patrick Mackenzie. Meeting with the Patrick has been on my "to do" list for quite some time, but I hadn't yet reached out. Not only did Patrick agree to be a part of the panel, but he did so immediately. We have plans to talk soon and I'm sure that we will find ways to support each organization's work.
The advocacy work that ASPECT does on behalf of its members is so diverse, circuitous and multi-layered that maintaining old and forging new relationships in itself is a fulltime job. Do I have a lot of work to do in this area? Most certainly! However, this week reminded me of how important establishing genuine relationships with people who have shared goals are essential to benefit the work we do and the communities we serve.
As I write this, I am also very much aware of the relationship I am building with you who read this Aspectives newsletter. Some of you I have had the opportunity to meet in person, some of you I interact with on social media, and many of you who are on my list of people I will endeavour to meet. Thank you for taking the time to follow along.