Going from Canada’s East Coast to the West Coast might induce culture shock in many people, but St. John’s native Jeff Smith focuses on the similarities between his hometown and current home base, Vancouver.
“I don’t know if it’s being near the ocean or what it is — I find both Vancouver and St. John’s are very, very laid-back cities,” says Smith, who was recently named to a Vancouver business magazine’s “Forty Under 40” list — a roundup of outstanding business professionals. “People are quite personable. Vancouver’s a big city but it still feels in a lot of ways like a community of towns.”
The 36-year-old has built a successful financial career — he’s currently the senior director of financial planning and analysis with CHC Helicopter, a B.C.-based transportation company — but he figures the award was as much for his community involvement. Most recently, he has been working with Anaphylaxis Canada, an allergy-focused non-profit that he says was a natural for him because his daughter has a peanut allergy.
Smith said it was an honour to find himself on the Forty Under 40 list.
“I was really pleased to be included in a group of people like that,” said Smith, who added that even just having a team of people nominate him was an honour in itself. He and the other honorees were feted at a dinner to which he was able to bring his mother, who was visiting from St. John’s.
Smith said he feels torn between coasts, but has been back to Newfoundland several times since striking out for B.C. in his early 20s.
“You know how it is. Once you move, you miss home. When you’re in Vancouver, you miss St. John’s, and when you’re in St. John’s you miss Vancouver. You do it to yourself once you move.”
The key to achieving what he has so far is to be open to new challenges, said Smith.
“The big thing for me is, I’ve obviously had a good couple of years working at CHC. I’ve enjoyed working there, and I think there’s a lot of opportunity there for me still so I’m definitely enjoying that,” he said. “But life has a way of throwing curveballs at you and you just keep an open mind and then they’re not so surprising.”