Thirty years ago when Bridgitte Anderson was travelling she found herself in Berlin at the intersection of history. The wall between east and west was coming down. Through a chink in that wall she could see the guards of the German Democratic Republic as they watched the joyful reclamation of unity.
“It was a pivotal moment for me,” said Anderson, who is the first female CEO of the Vancouver Board of Trade in its 132-year history. She keeps a small piece of the wall she picked up that day as a reminder of the power of democracy and unity.
Unity is a thread that seems to run through her life — and it’s something she’d like to foster to strengthen the region’s position as the Pacific Gateway. The former journalist who was once press secretary to Premier Gordon Campbell, and most recently served as general manager of Edelman Canada, said: “My top priority is regional competitiveness. Many of our municipalities operate in silos and I’d like to see that change.”
The board of trade represents nearly 6,000 members, 80 per cent of whom are small-business owners.
Affordability is another key issue for members, said Anderson, 52: “What I’m hearing from business owners and CEOs is that it’s more and more difficult to attract and retain talent in the city and the region.”
Anderson said, “I saw the issue myself among the best and the brightest on staff at Edelman, many of whom were living outside of Vancouver and commuting to the downtown core while trying to raise young families. We need to continue to have this conversation.”
Anderson sees other challenges ahead: “We are potentially facing an economic downturn and slowed growth. I think we need to become much more competitive and that means taking a multilayered approach to issues around taxation and regulation across the different municipalities.”
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Anderson’s broadcasting background, courtesy of Vancouver Broadcasters:
BCIT Broadcast graduate; reporter/legislative reporter CKWX Vancouver 1988-95; legislative reporter CKVU-TV Vancouver 1995-97; news anchor/reporter CTV Vancouver 1997-2004; reporter/host Report on Business Television Toronto 2004-06; reporter/anchor CTV Newsnet Toronto 2006-07; press secretary to B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell 2008-10.