The newly-named president and CEO of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce says her experience and the relationships she has developed will help her to hit the ground running when she begins her new role in September.
Shakiba Shayani was named the new president and CEO in a press release from the Chamber on Tuesday.
Reached by phone on Wednesday, Shayani said she is thrilled and looking forward to serving her home town in a new way.
“I feel really lucky that I have really well-established relationships with a really diverse cross-section of both businesses that are members of the Chamber, those who aren’t, other stakeholders and the community at large because of my time as a resident myself,” said Shayani.
After she served two years on the Chamber’s board of directors, Shayani said she is excited to set the stage with staff.
“There are some really smart, creative and dedicated staff at the Chamber that I am really looking forward to getting to know better,” said Shayani. “I want to understand their drive and ideas in moving the objectives of the chamber forward.”
It will be a priority for Shayani to build upon existing partnerships as head of the Chamber.
“I am walking into an opportunity where we already have a lot of assets in place that just require really deliberate and intentional convening and connecting,” said Shaman. “The partnerships we have at the city, Invest in Guelph, Innovation Guelph, Business Enterprise Centre — everybody is doing excellent work on economic development regionally.”
“I am looking forward to working on some of the projects the city is working on — the smart cities initiative is an excellent example of how the business sector can come together with the public sector and not-for-profit and achieve some really incredible results for the entire community,” she added.
Shayani is currently the director of community investment at United Way. She said the relationships she is bringing with her may be part of what made her stand out in the field of candidates for the position.
“I work closely with over 50 agencies and charities and I have a really meaningful relationship with all of them,” said Shayani. “They all do really good work trying to improve lives and that is where my passion lies.”
With those relationships already established, Shayani told GuelphToday she is ready to hit the ground running as the Chamber’s new president and CEO.
Shayani will begin her new role just over a month before the October federal election. Referring to herself as a ‘political nerd,’ Shayani said she is looking forward to the Chamber hosting an all-candidates meeting prior to the election.
“We get a really awesome opportunity to engage with citizens and get their questions in front of candidates,” said Shayani. “I look forward to growing that and getting as many interesting business-related questions in front of the candidates.”
Shayani will begin her new role on Sept. 9, but she notes that she will also be on hand at the Chamber’s golf tournament on Sept. 5.