He's one of the most visible people in Burnaby, and Matthew Coyne couldn't be busier at this time of year when local hotels are bustling and Tourism Burnaby is planning for 2013.
Coyne, the executive director of Tourism Burnaby, recently organized Tourism Burnaby's annual appreciation event at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts and Burnaby NOW reporter Alfie Lau caught up with Coyne to ask him some tough and not-so-tough questions. Here are the revealing answers.
Introduce yourself - who you are, your title, how long you've been doing the job?
Matthew Coyne, executive director Tourism Burnaby, for the past seven years. Where has the time gone!
First of all, perhaps I'll start with a quick introduction to Tourism Burnaby as some may not be aware of the organization.
We are a non-profit destination marketing organization that promotes the growth of tourism in the City of Burnaby.
Our priority markets include sport tourism, or sport event hosting, meetings and conferences, arts and culture and consumer marketing.
We are an extremely lean marketing organization, and I am joined by my two colleagues, Ian Wish and Kelsey Downey.
Best part of your job?
This may sound very cliché, but it's the people. From my colleagues to my industry stakeholders and partners, the tourism industry is filled with dynamic personalities that all really enjoy what they do, and it's a real pleasure to work in that environment. If it's not the people, then I would say the best part of my job is knowing that my colleagues and I contribute to Burnaby's tourism industry and help generate positive economic activity in the City of Burnaby.
We're in the business of destination marketing, we're in the business of fun really, so can there really be a worst part? However, like all jobs, there are some clerical or administrative duties that I could do without. But that's miniscule compared to all the positives. Like many small organizations, we find ourselves stretched at times, but the worst part, really is the risk of falling short of our expectations and not generating enough demand and opportunity for our tourism stakeholders.
This is a competitive export industry and not only are we competing with other destinations, but we are also impacted by external factors like currency exchange, transportation costs and other access issues, so we are never compelled to be complacent at all. We're always striving to improve and ensure we deliver results for our partners and stakeholders.
Most interesting thing to happen to you on the job?
Most interesting, most enjoyable - that's a vague question, but I would say the opportunity to meet new people, work with community organizations and the chance to travel across Canada namely.
This past spring, I had the pleasure of travelling with the president of the Burnaby Minor Hockey Association to attend the 2012 Esso Cup in Charlottetown, P.E.I. in preparation for Burnaby hosting the event in 2013. I had never been to P.E.I. before, so that was quite an experience - a terrific part of our country.
Activities/interests outside of the job?
I like to try and lead a healthy lifestyle and try to find time to work out and participate in a variety of activities, including basketball and cycling. I also try to get up the hill to snowboard a few times during the winter.
But for those that know me well, they would say that I can most often be found trying to pretend to be handy, working on my house and walking my dog with my wife. Apart from that, good food and wine are always of interest!
Here come some of the crazier questions. If you're stuck on a desert island, what three items do you take and why?
Not that I would want them stranded too, but I assume I can't take my wife and dog?
OK, seriously, if I were stranded, I would have to go practical for the most part, with perhaps a little pleasure too.
Flint and a Swiss Army knife for obvious reasons and the pleasure - a bottle of Laphroaig or Talisker Single Malt. At least I'll have a bottle for a message.
Favourite place in Burnaby that isn't work-related?
This is a tough question considering really, all of Burnaby's great characteristics and assets I consider as part of my job. So having said that, I would choose Deer Lake Park. This is a real gem in the city. Not only do you have one of the most beautiful settings in Metro Vancouver, but you also have other great assets like the Hart House Restaurant, Burnaby Village Museum, Shadbolt Centre for the Arts and the Burnaby Art Gallery.
Most interesting thing about you that your friends might not even know?
Most interesting . that's a stretch. Really . the only thing that comes to mind right now is that I have an amateur boxing record of 1-0.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
My wife, Ivana, introduced me to Croatia and the Adriatic, and I've had the pleasure of travelling there several times now. There are two islands: Hvar and Korcula that really are spectacular places to experience.
The food is wonderful and not only can you enjoy rich history with some modern amenities that exist now, but you can also find areas that are seemingly untouched and enjoy it all to yourself. And if it's not Croatia, then it has to be Italy's Amalfi Coast. But, these are all places that I've been, so high on my list where I haven't been is Turkey or South Africa. As much as technology is shrinking the world, it still is a vast, vast place and there are so many places worth exploring.
Coming back to normal questions, what do you see yourself doing in a year, five years, 10 years (both on job and/or personally?)
Honestly, that I can't say. Hopefully not still renovating my house, but the way it's going, I could very well be doing that in five years. Then in 10, it will probably be time to start all over again.
Mentor/someone you look up to?
Throughout my career, I've had the opportunity to work for and be associated with a number of great leaders within the tourism industry and business community at large whom I would consider mentors.
More importantly, I try to take advantage of any given opportunity to learn from others, and more often than not, these people aren't even aware that they have had a real impact on my life.
But, if you are looking for names, people like Rick Antonson, Ed Jaskula, Linda Griffiths and Paul Vallee come to mind quickly, my parents are an obvious choice too, but one person that does stand out only because our paths crossed at a time when I was at a fork in the road in my young adult life and really appreciated the leadership and guidance offered to me at the time was a basketball coach of mine in Northern Ireland, Eamon Brennan.