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I Did it My Way: Zita Cobb of Fogo Island Inn, Canada

I Did it My Way: Zita Cobb of Fogo Island Inn, Canada
I Did it My Way: Zita Cobb of Fogo Island Inn, Canada

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My career was in WDM — wavelength-division multiplexing — the optical components that have enabled the digital age. Centuries are going by now in decades. If I live a bit longer, I’ll see a few more. How do we make sense of this? What should we do? How must we behave differently? What we’ve done so far has taken us to a world on fire.

After studying business at Carleton University in Ottawa, thanks to the success of the fibre optics business where I was CFO, I exercised stock options and set up a registered Canadian charity called Shorefast. Fogo Island at that point in time was threatened with resettlement, but we were saved by a film-maker, Colin Low. He had a lot of questions — which he put to the locals. Turns out they had lots of ideas. There’s a tendency to underestimate local knowledge. Through his process of making films, it was like a course in ‘how to do asset-based community development’. As a result, people here found a way and we built a bigger shipyard — but it took everyone working together. They started a co-operative, which owns our fishery, which is still our biggest industry today. My thinking and my approach are shaped by the Fogo Process of my childhood. 

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