The success story of the SCCC Administrator

Have you ever asked yourself who supports the Board of Directors of the Swiss Canadian Chamber of Commerce (SCCC) in their activities and events? In the past decade six young and driven Swiss moved from Switzerland to Vancouver for an exciting internship as SCCC Administrator.

10 years ago, SCCC President, Vince Sciamanna, introduced the idea of having a young and dynamic intern on the SCCC team who would run Chamber activities and events as well as maintain the SCCC’s online presence. Ever since the SCCC has been offering almost every 18 months an attractive internship position and successfully employed six young people. The success rate of this internship speaks clearly for itself: with every new intern, new perspectives, approaches and ideas were implemented and although every intern started initially only with a work permit of 12-18 months, the previous four SCCC Admins still live in Vancouver, stayed closed to the SCCC network and applied for permanent resident and one even for the Canadian citizenship.

 

 

The current SCCC Admin, Melanie Ferreira, talked to her four predecessors about their previous role at the SCCC and their lives in Vancouver.

 

When and why did you leave Switzerland?


Ever since I lived in Vancouver for half a year in 1997, I wanted to come back and live here. So, after 14 years of not being able to get Vancouver out of my head, I just ‘had to move’, especially as the window to apply through the Young Professional work visa was closing. I’d rather regret the things in life I’ve done, then having remorse about things I didn’t do.
– Jacqueline Banz

I left in July 2018 and first went to Saskatoon. The only reason one would travel there is love. My girlfriend, Maria Jose, was living in Canada on a work visa. So, we thought to start our adventure in Canada which was a success as we are now engaged. We moved right away from Saskatoon to Vancouver. A city and an environment where we first met, and we absolutely love.
– Marco Urfer

I left Switzerland in December 2016 to start my new position as SCCC admin in Vancouver. Within a month, I finished my master degree in Switzerland, moved abroad and started my first job after my studies. It was an intense but very interesting time.
– Nina Bader

In 2015 I graduated in Switzerland from university and wanted to get some (work) experience abroad. I was offered an internship by the Swiss Canadian Chamber in Vancouver. Canada wasn’t necessarily on my radar, but it didn’t take me much to get convinced BC is a beautiful place to live.
– Thomas Andrey

How did you find your job with the Swiss Chamber of Commerce?


With perseverance, networking, and a pinch of luck. Every time I came to Vancouver on a vacation I knocked on doors of (mostly) Swiss companies. In 2010 I spread the message once again. In December 2010 I quit my beloved job, although I hadn’t made progress on the job front, but I’m a true believer that things will work out if they’re meant to be. A few weeks later, I heard about a job opening at the SCCC. I got the job and got the work visa literally the night before my booked flight for April 30, 2011.
The rest is history.

– Jacqueline Banz

You can imagine my motivation to find a job in Canada and be able to live with my girlfriend after having a distance relationship for a few years. In the beginning I was lost. I started to locate Swiss companies and was lucky. I contacted Thomas, who was working for Garaventa Lift, through LinkedIn. At the time he was sitting beside Nina who was just about to post the job offer for a new SCCC Admin. I applied, met Vince at the train station in Rotkreuz, was extremely persistent and this is how everything started.
– Marco Urfer

I was on vacation in Vancouver in summer 2016 and was looking for a job in the city. I reached out to the Swiss Consulate and they recommended me to contact the local Swiss chamber. I was at the right time at the right place, because the chamber was looking for someone and within a couple of days, I had a job interview with Vince and Thomas.
– Nina Bader

My dad introduced me to Vince, the president of the SCCC when I was looking for an opportunity to work abroad. I’m not sure if my dad would do it again if he knew I was going to stay for that long… All jokes aside, things just took off from there and Vince offered me the internship with the Chamber.
– Thomas Andrey  

What did you learn while working for the SCCC?


It wasn’t exactly a career step, so I had to learn to make the best of the situation and have a positive attitude, and to be grateful for the opportunity to live in Vancouver. I chose to be pro-active and wanted to move the chamber forward with new initiatives.
I benefited from the varied and interesting network opportunities that our chamber events provided.
– Jacqueline Banz

I learned a lot, from new tools and software to working independently while strengthen my skills. Further, I got valuable insights into Non-Profit admin and management which is of great interest for my future. Most importantly, I learned about many supportive and adventurous Swiss fellows in Vancouver. Many of them became part of my life not only professionally but also in my free time.
– Marco Urfer

Networking and connecting with people. The chamber is the perfect place to meet people from different industries and backgrounds and to expand your network. I also learned a lot of technical stuff about creating a website, which would be too boring to mention here. Last but not least, I also learned a lot about myself, after all it was my first job after my studies and in another country.
– Nina Bader

Many SCCC members have key roles in their businesses and are successful entrepreneurs or business people. I came straight out of university, and my understanding of a “board-meeting” was friends coming together with surfboards and looking for waves. The chamber allowed me to get different business insights. I also realized that all those members might have put a lot of work in to get where they are, but at the end of the day, they’re just human too. Who thought!?  
– Thomas Andrey

Five SCCC Admins with the man who made all this possible: Vince Sciamanna, SCCC President 2011-2020

After completing your internship why did you stay in Vancouver?


There were many reasons: It has always been my goal to get a Canadian passport. Furthermore, I was in a relationship and simply wasn’t thinking about going back.
– Jacqueline Banz

 

It has always been the plan to stay here for a few years and apply for permanent residency. Maria Jose and I met great people, are still in love with the west coast (and each other), and have exciting jobs. So far, we just could not find a reason to leave.
– Marco Urfer

There were several reasons; I have always loved this city and its lifestyle, I had a great job opportunity, I started working at the Consulate General of Switzerland. Some might say that love also played a role. 🙂 
– Nina Bader

For a lot of small things, but I think the most significant reasons were that I was living with same-minded friends right at the beach with a great mountain view. The weekends were full of adventures and every other weekday ended with some beach activity. I was in a good place and not ready to leave. The other reason was a great job offer from Garaventa Lift and I wanted to take that challenge.  
– Thomas Andrey

What do you enjoy most about Vancouver / BC? What is the biggest difference to Switzerland?


The great outdoors, combined with a multi-cultural and fairly relaxed city life. I don’t want to compare Canada to a Switzerland that I left almost 10 years ago. A lot of things change in a decade. So I’m not sure what the biggest difference would be today.
– Jacqueline Banz

I am an outdoor person. I love to escape from the daily life into the wilderness to camp, hike, ski, surf and all that just around the city. This makes up for a perfect work life balance. BC is wilder than Switzerland, not only in nature but also culturally, which makes life more exciting and spontaneous. 
– Marco Urfer

I love the city’s perfect location between the mountains and the sea. It is wonderful to have nature all around us and still have the advantages of a big city. I also appreciate the openness and relaxed lifestyle of Canadians, which I think is also one of the biggest differences to Switzerland.
– Nina Bader

Having the mountains and the ocean so close is my favorite thing about Vancouver and it’s the greatest playground ever.  No matter what kind of outdoor activity you like, you’ll find it here.  I love the laid-back West Coast culture here and I think both countries can learn from each other.
– Thomas Andrey

Are you planning to go back to Switzerland in the future?


It’s important to me to be ‘happy in the now’. There’s no point in speculating about the future. I call both Vancouver and Switzerland home. Having two passports allows me to choose where to live, so there’s no need to worry about it now. I could spend time in both countries without having to choose.
– Jacqueline Banz

Originally, I planned to stay in Canada for a few years and go back. We wanted to live closer to our family. For now, we feel home here in Vancouver and we don’t know where we will end up living. Knowing many stories of SCCC members the chances that we get stuck here forever are high 😊
– Marco Urfer

Who knows, at the moment we love our life here in Vancouver. But you never know what life will bring and I think that’s the beauty of it. My partner is Mexican, so we have several places to choose from, which we can call our home. For now we will continue to enjoy and explore this beautiful country.
– Nina Bader

My idea is to spend yearly a few weeks / months in Switzerland. This year my girlfriend joined me for the first time, and I think she liked it enough to share the same plan with me.  I’m sure many SCCC members are laughing now because they had originally the same idea, but things turned out differently.
– Thomas Andrey

Besides family and friends, what do you miss most about Switzerland?


Besides friends, and before COVID-19? Discovering new places in Switzerland and Europe, on a budget and with little time. Everything seems to be ‘close by’, so that lots can be done on a (long) weekend, and travel is affordable. Plus, I enjoy historic, old towns with its little streets, charming neighbourhoods and places to gather.
– Jacqueline Banz

Honestly, beside people, I don’t miss much. I mean, I get my Swiss fondue and chocolate here. What I miss most is to be in a place and among people I feel very familiar. As exciting the life here is, it is always a great feeling to stroll through my town, hear people talk the beautiful Bernese accent and visit places where I have spent a lot of time. 
– Marco Urfer

Rivella, Ovi Chocolate, Wurst-Käse Salad, Zweifel Chips… Like everyone, I miss the food. And sometimes I miss Zurich, I have always liked this city and my studies there very much. Of course I also miss my rural Thurgau and its peace and quietness.
– Nina Bader

Can I just mention family and friends? That’s really the thing I miss the most and there’s nothing else that gets close to that. Also, the Swiss Alps are unique and sometimes looking at pictures just doesn’t do the job and I wish I was there.
– Thomas Andrey

From L to R: Melanie Ferreira, Marco Urfer, Nina Bader, Thomas Andrey and Jacqueline Banz at a SCCC event in Vancouver in October 2019

 

And what about the current SCCC-Admin Melanie Ferreira?

When I moved to Vancouver in October 2019 I was convinced that I would stay only one year, but it didn’t take me long to understand why many people get stuck here. With the mountains, the sea and a vibrant city life Vancouver is the perfect mix of nature and urban. You will find the great outdoors right on your doorstep and every weekend is a new opportunity to go on an adventure. Especially now with Covid-19 it is a blessing living only a few walking minutes from the beach and having the mountains so close.

Like my predecessors I had a very warm welcome at the SCCC, met great people that became good friends and am enjoying my job as current SCCC Admin a lot. I have learnt many new things and have met interesting people from different industries and backgrounds. I appreciate the Director’s trust and enjoy that I can concentrate on my areas of interest, develop my skills and focus on my own projects. 

So, will I only stay for one year? Maybe, I haven’t decided yet.
There are for sure a lot of good reasons to stay and there is still so much that I haven’t explored yet (thank you Covid-19!). For now, I am in a good place and enjoying my time here. 
One thing I appreciate at the West Coast is the relaxed lifestyle and that Canadians go with the flow.  And this is exactly what I will do in the next weeks before taking my decision 🙂


Thank you very much to Jacqueline Banz, Thomas Andrey, Nina Bader and Marco Urfer for taking the time to share their personal experiences and insights.

A BIG THANK you to Vince Sciamanna, SCCC President 2011-2020, that made all of this possible and offered these young people an opportunity of a lifetime. Every SCCC Admin is very grateful for your work, dedication and support!

One Comment

  1. Well done and thanks for your support, in the past, present & future! Very much appreciated🙏🏽

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