Ten Profiles for Fusion’s 10th Year: #5 – Isaiah Olateru
Within hours of arriving in Halifax, a new city he was relocating to sight-unseen, Isaiah Olateru was building connections at Fusion Halifax’s annual open house.
“I had researched active young professional groups before I arrived in Canada through the usual channels like Meet Up and Google, but I stumbled on a Facebook page for the Fusion Halifax open house and it caught my eye. I thought to myself, whether people show up or not I’m going to. Some of my best friends here now are people I met that night,” Olateru says.
That was January 2016 and today, Olateru, Director of Lean Government with the Government of Nova Scotia and an active member of Fusion’s people factor action team identifies the organization as a driving force for engaging young professionals in a tangible way. As a newcomer to Nova Scotia, Olateru credits the connections he’s made through Fusion with helping him settle into life in Halifax quickly and fully.
“I felt like I could plug in somewhere and the bonus was that I could also develop myself professionally. From a personal standpoint, I see Fusion as a catalyst that helped accelerate my assimilation,” he says.
“Fusion’s sustained focus on local action is what differentiates it from other group,” says Olateru. And he would know. While living in the United States he was involved in multiple young professional associations. “The keenness of Fusion’s members, and the bias for action is what impressed me,” he says. “In the words of Fusion, ‘Think Forward. Take Charge.’, it’s not just thinking about ideas, clever ideas are in abundance. It’s about taking action.”
That action comes to life through Fusion Halifax’s seven action teams, each focused on an area of interest and led by a team of volunteers with the support of a volunteer board of directors. Although completely volunteer run, Fusion’s impact is impressive. Last year, more than 56 events were held and today, planning is in full swing for the second annual Atlantic Leadership Forum, a multiday professional development event for young leaders in the Atlantic region in early June.
As for Fusion’s future, Olateru thinks it’s bright. “For me, Fusion’s greatest impact has been the opportunity to give back.” On a broader level he says “it’s giving life to the hope of a greater Nova Scotia. One of the ways that I think Fusion Halifax is influential is in encouraging people to stay in the area; by giving them the experiences that afford them the chance to stay.”
Based on the warm welcome he received in Halifax, Olateru offers this advice to other young professionals, “be open, ask questions. People are friendly and if you do your bit to reach out, most people are pleased to connect,” he says. “Just throw yourself in, there’s opportunity for growth beyond what you probably imagine.”