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Settling in . . . Dan Hyzl is thrilled to have joined the Waitaki Community Gardens. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

The new operations manager at the Waitaki Community Gardens has a different story to many.

Born in the Czech Republic, Dan Hyzl grew up in Canada, where he studied business administration at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

After graduating, he travelled to Prague.

“I thought it would be good to do an OE – it was a good way to meet up with my parents’ roots,” he said.

“The Czech Republic was quite fresh, just eight or nine years after communism – that was in 1997.”

However, with an emerging market and a “bunch of new opportunities”, Mr Hyzl decided to stay in the country instead of heading back home.

For about two years, he worked as a financial analyst for BMG Entertainment before landing a job at ING bank.

“It was a bit of an adventure for me,” he said.

“The CEO took me as a prodigy and I rocketed up the ranks there after a few years, becoming sales director for the whole country.”

He worked at ING for several years before going on to work with other banks and financial companies.

“It was an amazing experience – it was lot of experiences for somebody that young.”

That was until 2011, when he thought about moving back to Canada.

Soon after, he met New Zealand woman Rebecca Van de Vlierd, a music teacher working in Prague with family connections to Oamaru.

While he didn’t know it at the time, she would later become his wife.

Several weeks ago, the couple moved to Oamaru after deciding they wanted to live in New Zealand.

“I never thought of living in New Zealand. I was really good at geography and I was interested about coming for holidays.”

Since their move to Oamaru, Mr Hyzl said he had been amazed by the hospitality of the community.

“I’m really chuffed that I’m here in Oamaru,” he said.

“It’s been a lot of fun for me. It’s amazing how many people I’ve met that are interesting.”

Recently, while searching for jobs, he stumbled on an advertisement from the Waitaki Community Gardens, looking for an operations manager.

“I thought it would be nice to synergise some of the management skills I have by doing something more meaningful,” he said.

In his role, he will oversee and help manage ongoing projects at the garden.

Mr Hyzl said he was excited about what the future had in store for him.

“I’m feeling really motivated in how I can contribute to the community,” he said

“There’s a lot of things I can give and there’s a lot of things that I have to learn.”