Nova Scotia

Scott Ferguson resigns as Halifax Trade Centre CEO

Scott Ferguson has resigned as the CEO of Halifax's Trade Centre Ltd. to take a new job in New York City.

'I've learned in business and in life, timing is something that you don't control,' Ferguson says

Halifax Trade Centre chief Scott Ferguson is leaving his job to take a new position as CEO of the World Trade Centers Association in New York. (CBC)

Scott Ferguson has resigned as the CEO of Halifax's Trade Centre Ltd. to take a new job at the helm of the World Trade Centers Association in New York.

Ferguson said the opening first hit his radar six months ago and people within the organization encouraged him to apply; he recently learned he was the successful candidate.

He said the opportunity was one he couldn't pass up.

Opportunity comes calling

"I've learned in business and in life, timing is something that you don't control and when opportunities come along, you need to decide if you're going to take advantage of them or not," he said in an interview Tuesday.

While he leaves at a time when the new convention centre in Halifax is preparing to open, Ferguson said the move is in no way a reflection of doubt about the prospects of the new multi-million dollar project on Argyle Street. With dozens of conferences already booked, he said the new site is in good hands.

"We've been from the very beginning, I think, been very clear and open in a very transparent manner about what the business case was, what our business projections look like, how we were going to develop the centre," he said.

"I think we've done everything we said we would do over that period of time."

Tasks of the new role

At his new job, Ferguson will report to a board and manage an office of 15-20 people.

The World Trade Centers Association includes 300 world trade centres in 100 countries.

The mandate and focus is to promote trade and investment opportunities worldwide, which entails bringing in new members to the organization and also working with existing members to promote trade, Ferguson said.

"In one sense, it's similar to what I've been doing, which has been collaborating and connecting with stakeholders and partners over the last seven years."

Not much of a day-to-day change

Suzanne Fougere, spokeswoman for Trade Centre Limited, said Ferguson informed the board of his decision last week.

While there will be a short-term transition period, Fougere said the person stepping in as president and CEO on an acting basis, TCL's chief financial officer Carrie Cussons, is very familiar with the organization.

"(She's) been leading the operational preparation to open the new facility," said Fougere.

"So, from an internal perspective, it will be a transition, but it's not much of a change in the day-to-day operational preparation that we've been undergoing in the last number of years."

Scott Ferguson was to take the helm of the new Halifax Convention Centre when it opens in 2017. (Paul Withers/CBC)

It will up to the new board to make a decision on a permanent CEO for the organization once the board is in place, said Fougere.

Ferguson said the job he and his team have been doing is high profile, meaning everything they do is scrutinized by media.

They operate in a very "open, honest and transparent manner," he said.

"I would challenge anyone to find ways that we did not do that over the last number of years." 

Bumps in the road

His tenure at TCL is not without controversy.

A report in 2011 by Halifax auditor general Larry Munroe found fault with Ferguson and TCL's involvement in controversial funding procedures for concerts in the city. At the time, Ferguson said they would make operational and governance changes as a result of the report.

A year later, Munroe issued a report calling into question the way TCL handled box office receipts for events.

Ferguson joined TCL in 1985 and became the CEO in 2009. 

He was appointed CEO of the Halifax Convention Centre Corporation Ltd. in April. That job was to start when the new facility opens 2017. His contract was due to end in September 2018.

With files from the CBC's Jon Tattrie