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  • Gillis championing Nova Scotia across South Central US

Gillis championing Nova Scotia across South Central US

Monday, March 23, 2015

Meet ConnectNS network member Charles Gillis, Executive Director of Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr, and find out why he’s championing Nova Scotia across South Central US.

Why would a Dallas legal executive living in the shining beacon of the American economy be interested in educating Texas’s next generation of business leaders on the value of Nova Scotia?

Because he fell in love.

While this isn’t a romantic love story, per se, it is a story of a man, Charles Gillis, who upon touring Halifax with his wife years ago discovered that their getaway offered economic riches far beyond the quiet province of fishing villages and scenic coastlines.

The Executive Director of Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr told allNovaScotia.com that he was probably the only Texan to watch Ray Ivany present on live video stream and was saddened to hear about the outflow of young people from a province he finds to be deeply innovative and entrepreneurial.

Gillis was so inspired that he convinced the Executive MBA program of the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) to study the oneNS report and host its 2015 experiential learning trip in Halifax. The five-day expedition will begin April 25th and will include company visits, introductions to members of the government, cultural exchanges, and connections with local EMBA students.

Their objectives, in context with the oneNS report, are to investigate the sense of urgency for Nova Scotia to change their business models; to identify accomplishments in creating needed change; to evaluate the attractiveness and means of doing business in Nova Scotia and recognize cultural differences between the US and Nova Scotia and the strategic advantages of coming to Nova Scotia.

In preparation for the visit, Gillis released an article geared towards educating Texans about Nova Scotia’s economic opportunities including the competitive advantage around a challenged resource across Texas – water. Gillis highlights how Nova Scotia is on the leading edge of tidal power technology, capitalizing on the highest and lowest tides in the world as 100 billion tons of water surge through the Bay of Fundy with every tide. “Nova Scotia faces many challenges but their plan forward is impressive and the momentum is gaining.” Read full article.

Gillis is confident that the trip will help to create strong, and perhaps lifelong connections between Texas and Nova Scotia.

We recently caught up with Gillis to discuss some of his specific thoughts on the province.

What is your tie to Nova Scotia?

I started as a tourist and immediately fell in love with the province. My connection to Nova Scotia has grown over the years. Visits created friendship, additional connections and eventually business opportunities. 

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “Nova Scotia”?

The view from the front gates of the Citadel in Halifax.  You see the old and the new.  In one spot you can imagine all the great moments in the city’s rich history and also see all the opportunity in its future.

What do you love most about doing what you do professionally?

I work for an innovative (legal) firm in an industry not known for innovation.  It’s a great comfort to work with people who take pride in their contributions and encourage the continuous betterment of the business.

What’s the best lesson you ever learned?

You either make decisions in life or decisions are made for you.

What’s the greatest asset Nova Scotia can offer Texas?

Texas would benefit from more business and cultural connections with Nova Scotia.  We have many shared goals and similar resources.  Texas and Nova Scotia have opportunities to partner in the energy sector, technology, finance and more.  On the cultural side, I want to see more Nova Scotian influence in Texas.  For example, I sit on the library board in my home town.  Everyone on our library board is very well aware of Halifax’s fabulous new library.  I’d love to replicate much of what I’ve seen.  I believe more academic and business connections will help us all prosper

What do you miss most about Nova Scotia?

When I leave I miss the things I can’t get in back in Texas.  There are no donairs in Texas and poutine offerings are infrequent and usually disappointing.  I also miss the water.  I live in a landlocked city with insufficient water and no ocean breezes so I miss Canada’s ocean playground, especially in the summertime.

Charles Gillis is a member of the ConnectNS network of proud Nova Scotians, friends, alumni, and expats from over 40 countries. Learn how you too can get involved.