Liesl Harewood Mulholland CITP©/FIBP© is an International Trade Development Consultant and Entrepreneur with over fifteen years practical expertise in business, entrepreneurship, trade in services, and trade facilitation. Liesl is originally from the Caribbean, born and raised in Guyana before moving to Barbados with her family when she was 9 years old. She considers both Guyana and Barbados her home and continues to do work in these markets and the wider Caribbean.
Throughout her career, Liesl has developed, organised and led more than thirty (30) trade missions to countries in the Americas, Africa and the Caribbean. She organized trade missions for Barbadian businesses across the Caribbean to markets that included: Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Curacao, Saint Lucia and Miami. She has also organized and facilitated trade missions from Nova Scotia to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) members, including Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Guyana and Suriname, Saint Lucia and the wider Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS),
Liesl also developed and maintained relationships with the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) as the Private Sector Liaison Officer (PSLO) for Nova Scotia to the World Bank Group, tracking and disseminating opportunities from the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank, the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Her clients for IFI work include companies from Atlantic Canada and Quebec.
Liesl is a navigator and combines her knowledge of the Nova Scotian business culture with that of the Caribbean environment as she successfully continues to live and work in both markets. Surprisingly, she favours being in the Caribbean during the Canadian winter months!
Liesl is a Certified International Trade Professional (CITP) and holds a Bachelors of Law (Hons.) in European Commercial Law with French from the Universities of Sussex (UK) and Toulouse (France), a Masters (Merit) in Diplomacy, Law and Global Change from Coventry University (UK). She is fluent in English and French and has a basic working knowledge of Spanish and German.
What are you most proud of professionally? And who or why?
In the freelance world, you're only as good as your next project so there is always this feeling of "Great, I got a contract. Oh man, it's going to end. What will I do next?" and it's an ebb and flow world, which throughout my career, I always end up being drawn back into it. So instead of fighting it, I've just come to accept that contracts and project life are my "bread and butter" for this period of my career. That may change when the right opportunity arises that I can’t say no to. The projects I love working on the most are the ones that bring about active change in a community, whether it be promoting female entrepreneurs or implementing government policy that can change the economic future of a country. For example, I just finished a project in Barbados with my colleagues based in Barbados and The Netherlands. We felt married to this project as it consumed more than half of year in 2018. It was very pleasing for us to see a press clipping from Barbados a few months later about the one of the deliverables of the project - a draft white paper - being used to guide legislative policy discussion in Barbados.
The longest I have been in a "job job" (9-5, 5 days a week, company credit card and mobile phone) is three years. And to be honest, sometimes I resented this stability because on a few occasions it meant not being able to say "Yes" to an Election Observation Mission in the Falkland Islands or other such opportunities that conflicted with my commitment to my employment contract. I'm most proud of my ability to walk away from opportunities that do not align with my happiness and values.
There are many women that I look up to, too numerous to mention all of them but some rock stars who I speak to almost everyday to help me navigate the consultancy world are Michelle Hustler and Lynda Arsenault. Lynda was featured on Amplify East and there is no one more deserving! She is the most amazing professional I’ve ever met. I've had the privilege of working with them in different phases of my career and I admire the work that they do in the international trade and foreign direct investment world. I believe they both inspired me (without them even knowing it) to get my Certified International Trade Professional designation.
What’s your vision for Atlantic Canada in 10 years? What’s our biggest opportunity now?
Honestly, I don't see myself here in Atlantic Canada in the next 10 years. The region has a lot to offer, but I'm an island girl at heart and I know the Caribbean is calling me in the not too distant future. I do hope that Atlantic Canada continues to maintain close relationships with the Caribbean, and particular focus on the creative industries sector for partnership and professional development opportunities. We have evolved from the "saltfish/codfish for rum" trade opportunities.
I'm happy that the film industry in Nova Scotia is seeing a resurgence. There is immense talent here that I'm learning more about from different angles and I'm loving everything I see. I've been doing some background acting for the past year and it's been one of the most exciting opportunities for me to just see the entire supply chain in action, leading up to my 5 second clip on Diggstown, Cavendish and other shows - including a Hollywood movie coming out next year! I'm currently one of ten women in the Women in Film and Television-Atlantic New Waves programme and the talent that is here is mind-blowing! I can't wait to see some of the work developing from these women in the film industry in Nova Scotia. And maybe, something new from me in the future too. I was an Associate Producer on Papa Machete a documentary that was the official selection at the Sundance Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival and Sheffield Doc/Fest back in the 2014/2015 season. That seems like a lifetime ago. I think that was my peak celebrity life.
What was your greatest stage of growth? What made it a shift for you?
Realising and accepting that firing my boss(es) wasn't a failure on my part, but one of strengths where I understood that the environment(s) no longer aligned with my goals and values. Making that choice to leave a "good job" for "nothing" takes a level of courage that I'm always amazed that is buried inside me when I’ve made this choice. It’s pretty scary stuff when you’re in it!
What’s your favourite or most read book or podcast? Now or at each of your greatest stages of growth?
I've been an avid reader all my life. Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Sweet Valley High, Sweet Dreams...I inhaled books. My grandmother worked in the Public Library in Guyana and my brother and I growing up actually had a library business where we'd loan our books out and make money on the fines we collected for late fees (we had the library stamps and everything! Thanks Granny!)...to this day, I'm always reading a book or listening to an audio book. I think one of my favourite books is ‘The Lunatic’ by Jamaican novelist Anthony C. Winkler. This is a laugh out loud, hold your belly, tears in yours kind of read.
Anything written by Shakirah Bourne. I'm telling you, Google her. She writes in such a way that it helps me understand what growing up in Barbados was like. I moved to Barbados from Guyana at 9 years old...so some of Shakirah's books and short stories, fill in those missing years for me to help me understand that bit of Bajan that I don't have ingrained in me from birth, but I have been acquiring with my Mount Gay consumption. She's going to be an internationally recognized name, so just remember it's Shakirah with a "h" at the end!
What’s your deepest learning from this past year? How did/will you apply it?
Prioritising my time and saying no without feeling guilty about it. I give myself a limited number of hours in the day as I work from my home office, I try to squeeze in gym time and yes sometimes Netflix time and/or "siesta" (I lived in Europe for 5 years, siesta is life!) all between a 6 or 7 hour window daily. If I schedule too many meetings or "coffee meet ups" then my time to sit at my desk and get work done diminishes. So I've got a very strict rule as to how many "coffees" I have during a given week. I'm already over my limit for this week! Nova Scotians love to have face to face meet ups. That's how business gets done and relationships are built so I understand this, but I do love hopping on a video call from the comfort of my home.
What would you have done differently?
Not one thing. Well, maybe started playing pub trivia earlier in my life! It's so much fun and I can't believe that although I lived in England, I actually never did my first pub trivia until I was on a beach in Barbados (hosted by a British guy of course, or should I say bloke?! Thank you Terry Bent!). One of the greatest highlights in my life was on March 29, 2017 when I was part of a team that won first prize at trivia in Barbados at Dippers Beach Bar (where I first started trivia in 2011). It was one of the most emotional moments of my life and it was great to have a few people on the team who were trivia buddies with me from day one. We’d seen it all - coming last, being laughed at by the British expats, winning the booby prize (a bottle of wine for second to last) - to finally coming out on top! I celebrate this anniversary every year!
What are the principles you live by?
I know that whatever you put out to the universe comes back to you. It may not be 10 minutes later, or 10 days but it finds a way back. I've seen so many people who have been downright cutthroat and done unforgivable things have the most horrible things happen to them, yet they still continued with their behaviour and actions. It keeps me in check when I want to "pop off" on someone or "get back at them", I'm reminded that whatever negativity I throw out there is going to find its way back to me....it's not easy but it helps to remind myself of this. I always just say "Rue the day!" and I let it go, that's my way of acknowledging the moment and noting that the person is going to at some point "Rue the day!"…
Island Girl, Caribbean Woman, World Traveller, Adventure Seeker, Lover of Terrible Puns, Trivia Addict