Fabiola Sicard has dual identities: She’s Mexican-born and a Canadian citizen; she’s the director of Latin Markets, Multicultural Banking for Scotiabank and she’s co-founder of LAMBA, the Latin American MBA Alumni Network. But above all else, Fabiola is passionate about building the profile of what Latin America and its people have to offer Canadian businesses.
“There is a large, growing population of Latin Americans in Canada,” says Fabiola. “We don’t see ourselves as visible minorities. We are well educated and bilingual. We are world-class immigrants and we’ve come to contribute to this country.”
An accountant by trade, Fabiola always knew she wanted to do an international MBA. She studied English in Toronto for four months to polish her writing skills in preparation. While here, Fabiola fell in love with the city and her future husband. She chose York University’s Schulich School of Business for her graduate degree.
“After I settled in that first year, I developed a real interest for all things Mexican and Latin American,” says Fabiola. She got involved with the Canadian Council for the Americas. Then, inspired by the founding of the Canadian Colombian Professionals Association and the Alumni Association for Tec de Monterrey, Fabiola and a few classmates founded the Latin America Business Association (LABA) at Schulich with the goal of promoting the region from a business perspective.
By the time she was wrapping up her MBA, Fabiola had set her sights on Scotiabank. She had done her research and knew they were targeting Latin America. Fabiola secured an internship with the bank’s international division in finance. Fabiola later got a taste of multicultural banking and stayed. She has been in her role for the last two years.
Meanwhile, the alumni pool of Latin America MBA graduates grew in the Toronto Region. “We were organizing events for those who share culture and business drive, states Fabiola. It would start with an email saying we were going for drinks. Then 60 people were on board! So we thought it made sense to create a formal organization.”
In October 2010 Fabiola helped found the Latin American MBA Alumni Network (LAMBA). The professional association connects Latin American MBA graduates with one another and with corporations in Canada. A year later LAMBA is off to a running start with CIBC, Scotiabank, TD Bank Group and KPMG as sponsors, Richard Ivey School of Business, Rotman School of Management, HEC Montreal and Schulich as school partners, and 230 members.
The majority of LAMBA members are first generation Canadian, so the focus is on increasing members’ networks and on the impact such a sizable network of Latin American MBAs could make in Toronto. Senior members support newer members on how to market themselves to Canadian employers.
“We Latin Americans are excellent at starting and building relationships,” says Fabiola. “Loyalty and creativity define us because we come from places where there are so many needs and gaps. We are always trying new solutions.”
A large number of Scotiabankers speak Spanish and the bank has supported the establishment of HOLA, the Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Advancement – an employee resource group with more than 200 members. Fabiola is the Director of External Affairs. In early 2011 HOLA participated in a networking event coordinated by TRIEC and Hispanotech – bringing together members of Hispanic professional associations and employee resource groups from several large organizations. The event was the first of its kind in the city.
As a follow up to this event, Fabiola recently convened these groups again to explore synergies around needs and opportunities, and to facilitate networking. She is excited at the momentum amongst Latin American professional associations in Toronto and the prospect of capitalizing on all that potential.
On Friday, December 2nd 2011, Fabiola was presented the Ohtli Award by the Mexican consulate of Toronto. The award is the highest recognition that the Mexican government gives to its citizens who’ve contributed to the Mexican diaspora.
In just a few years Fabiola has made her mark in Toronto and will undoubtedly champion more innovative and impactful work when it comes to increasing the profile of the Latin American community to local businesses.