Increasingly we hear stories—verifiable stories—indicating that employees want and expect more in the workplace. More employees want to be a part of an organization that is socially responsible and that gives back to the community.

In addition, we are seeing that employees also want to work in environments offering lifestyle choices that match their various life stages. So if you are growing your company, today’s post should give you some vital information on helping you achieve that goal.

To get more perspective on this, Opportunities NB (ONB) spoke with Nigel Orfei, an IT professional who, along with his young family, decided that moving east was the right career and family choice.


ONB: You aren’t originally from New Brunswick, what brought you here?

Orfei: My wife and I decided early on that when we had kids, we would prefer for one parent to be able to stay home full-time. After our first son was born and 18 months of hectic schedules and difficult commutes, we knew we had to begin our search. My wife’s family was from here originally (living in Calgary now) which led me to look for employment in the Maritimes. We planned a family vacation through Halifax, Moncton, Saint John, and Fredericton about six months before we moved, so we could check out the area. Once I found the opportunity at Radian6, I knew this was for me, so I pursued them and the opportunity until we relocated in January 2008.

ONB: Where are you from originally?

Orfei: I was born in Toronto, but lived between Calgary and Toronto while growing up. Our 2008 move to Fredericton was from Calgary.

ONB: You work in a sector that attracts a lot of interest and attention, IT. It is a sector that really sees centres like San Francisco, New York, Calgary, Vancouver, etc. as the hotspots. Having worked in Calgary what is your take on the IT sector here in New Brunswick? Are we a best kept secret?

Orfei: Definitely. I started working in Fredericton at a company that became the industry leader in social media listening and engagement. I was supporting customers globally and frequently interacting with Fortune 1000 companies. Now I’m leading the Customer Success team at Populus Global Solutions based in Fredericton. We provide fully integrated national health information systems, electronic health records for both primary care and specialists, and robust data analytics and insights. Our software solution has been deployed globally.

I think the best kept secret are our startups, but they shouldn’t be. We need to promote our great successes here and anyone entering the job market or looking for a new opportunity needs to understand everything about this space. The primary difference between Fredericton and Calgary is that it’s easy to understand the startup space here; sign up for the Planet Hatch newsletter, attend events, volunteer, and talk to people and get connected.

ONB: Tell us about what is really exciting you in your current role?

Orfei: I love being able to work with local and international customers and help solve their business challenges. It’s the ‘light bulb moment’ that is very exciting for me…the moment you see the look on their face or the tone of their voice change. The moment when I know we understand each other, have learned something new or now look at things differently. 

ONB: What has been the biggest learning for you moving and living in New Brunswick?

Orfei: As soon as we relocated here, we knew we wanted to stay, so I committed to understand my work strengths and opportunities as well as weaknesses and challenges. I believe in giving full commitment to the organizations and communities of which I am a part. What I saw in larger cities is a tendency to change jobs more frequently without giving thought to trying to improve a difficult situation. What I have found in this market is that the teams I have worked with are more dedicated to improving the environment and committing to the organization and its customers. As a result, I have observed that the companies seem to reciprocate the commitment. This has been an important factor in my career satisfaction and I believe I can and have positively contributed to the companies that I am involved.

I know this determination benefits me and my employer. It has been a combination of volunteer work, networking, practice and NEVER declining a challenging work opportunity/project that helps to expand my skill set.

ONB: People do move out west for work, and yet you did the reverse. What did people say to you when you told them what you were doing?

Orfei: The original response was shock, then curiosity. Once I explained why we were relocating and the benefits, I think it started some people thinking. They often say I can’t blame you’, or ‘sounds like a great move’. Recently, my mom said that even though two of her grandkids live far away now, it seems as though we have a nice life in Fredericton. I agreed and smiled.

ONB: How do the companies that you have worked for here in New Brunswick compare with the companies that you worked for out west?

Orfei: I think maybe it’s the underdog factor that is different here. I believe that most people in the Maritimes are fighting to make NB desirable for companies to relocate here or expand. And that past residents are rooting for us to be successful. I think that this fight is a motivator for employees and makes companies and our work cultures’ unique. It’s almost like we work hard because we’re needed. This province is small enough so we can make a difference and set a positive example for others in Canada. I think that people live here because they want to versus have to. That speaks volumes.

ONB: How has moving to New Brunswick changed your quality of life? Would you do it over again?

Orfei: We really enjoy the small town feeling, short commutes and simplicity it brings to our lives. I can drive 45 minutes to go downhill skiing and five minutes to cross-country skiing, there are numerous lakes and beaches to enjoy, my commute time for work is literally five minutes which gives me more time to spend with my family. We bought a tent trailer a few years ago and have enjoyed fantastic camping throughout the Maritimes. Yes, it definitely has improved our quality of life and we would do it again.

Written by Heather MacLean

Cover image via Populus Global Solutions