From aspiring doctor in Syria, to refugee, chocolate maker and in-demand guest speaker, Tareq Hadhad continues to rack up opportunities that bring him success since coming to Nova Scotia last year.
Hadhad, a driving force behind Antigonish's famed Peace by Chocolate, welcomes his newest opportunity as board member of Invest Nova Scotia, an independent board granting economic incentives to businesses.
Friday's announcement about the appointment is what he calls a "huge honour."
"It's a very powerful, inspiring message from Nova Scotia from the government of Nova Scotia, from the board of Invest Nova Scotia to the other provinces and maybe the whole world, to say here is an example that we embrace the idea of innovative examples and success stories," he told CBC News Saturday.
Hadhad will serve a four-year term on the board.
Drawing on experiences
Peace by Chocolate is one of the more well-known Syrian refugee success stories in Canada, having been referenced in a speech by Justin Trudeau at the United Nations. His family's journey from chocolate makers in Damascus to their new life in Antigonish has been highly publicized.
Hadhad said he'll continue with the growing family business while contributing to Invest Nova Scotia at monthly meetings. In the new role, he said he'll draw from his unique experiences in the fields of immigration, business and health care.
"What I love is that we don't have like tasks or job descriptions on the board," he said. "So for myself, as a new board member, I just like spoke from the challenges that we [new Nova Scotians] face."
Breaking the rules
Given that other members are two or three years into their terms, he said a fresh perspective can bring fresh ideas.
"Breaking the rules in a positive way," he said. "Like if there are any rules, for example, for choosing the [investment] projects, I could ask, 'Why is that?'"
Kenneth Deveau, chair of Invest Nova Scotia, touted Hadhad's "unique experience and perspective" in Friday's statement.
Showing 'what is possible'
With Invest Nova Scotia, Hadhad said he'll focus on making start-ups easier for newcomers. His family relied on local support to manoeuver through the system, he said, so for others to be successful, a helping hand should be at the ready.
"Peace By Chocolate doesn't tell the general rule," he said. "Peace by Chocolate tells what is possible."
The province said Hadhad will be paid $150 for each monthly meeting he attends, and will be reimbursed for his expenses. Hadhad said his first official meeting as board member will be in a couple of weeks.