When Lora Yekhshatyan first came to Canada, she connected with Issie Lyon through The Mentoring Partnership. Five years later, we reunited Lora and her mentor Issie over coffee to reflect on their insights on working Canada, the value of diversity, and how the mentoring experience benefits the person giving their time, as well as the person receiving.
TRIEC: Where are you working now and what are you working on that you’re excited about?
Lora: I’m currently working at Bank of Montreal in corporate marketing and we’re doing some customer analytics.
Issie: Big data?
Lora: Big data, modelling, but I came from a different field. I did human factors modelling [traditionally used in manufacturing and engineering fields]; human behavior, psychology, how people think, how they will react, and the time [required] for decision-making. When I came to Canada, I started exploring the market and thank god, I met Issie. He [helped] me talk to people from different fields – like healthcare, transportation – so many people.
TRIEC: They were all working in modelling?
Lora: Not everybody does the same stuff I was interested in. But since I was looking for a different industry, meeting with all those people gave me a sense of the job market here in Canada, especially for me.
TRIEC: So how did you get to your current position at BMO?
Lora: I found a good job a few months of meeting you [she says turning to Issie]. I finally found a job with Canadian Tire in predictive modelling, which let me apply my knowledge about data, statistics, methodologies, modeling, data mining, and artificial intelligence – all that fancy stuff. Then, a couple of years later [BMO] found me. Human Resources sent me a message, ‘we, have this position, would you like to talk about it?’
Lora joined The Mentoring Partnership through Humber College because she was looking employment advice as a new Canadian. We asked her how mentoring can be helpful for other newcomers?
Lora: Humber College matched me with Issie. For any immigrant who is coming to Canada I would definitely suggest mentoring. When people come they go to their own communities, which is helpful, but you also need to find someone to go through the Canadian style of job search, interview, resume, speaking – everything. It [Mentoring] will help.
TRIEC: Can you share a specific advice from Issie that really made a difference in your job search?
Lora: I was looking for other fields where I can apply my knowledge, and this journey through conversations with different people, it opened the job market to me here in Canada, helped me to know the expectations from different fields. They use different words, different kinds of approaches. This is how Issie helped me. He put me in touch with people to talk to them to understand their industry requirements. Insight.
Issie: One of the things that I try to get across is, having people prepare for whom they are going to meet. Do research; understand their [industry] language.
Lora: Exactly. They expect you know everything about them, their problems, and that you are coming to be part of the solution. Without any conversations with those people, it would be hard to get into the field.
TRIEC: Now you’re the one people are coming to for advice!
Lora: Oh yes!
TRIEC: Issie, how do you feel knowing you played part in helping someone like Lora establish herself in Canada?
Issie: [Laughs] I wish I had myself for advice 30 years ago! It’s a very good feeling. Everybody wants to make a positive contribution.
TRIEC: Another goal of The Mentoring Partnership is to help organizations understand the benefits of diversity and how to build diverse teams. Why do you think diversity is important?
Issie: It’s a global economy. It’s an interdependent network of commerce and trade and Canadian institutions and companies need people with a global perspective.
TRIEC: Can you speak to that from your own experience?
Issie: When I was involved in corporate social responsibility work with the standards association, there was a lot of international negotiation. Different countries had different perspectives, different concerns, fears, and stakes. You need to be sensitive to negotiate an international standard successfully. You need people with that kind of perspective.
TRIEC: It’s the cross-cultural communication skills.
Issie: And just generally thinking out of the box.
Lora: My point is that, in different countries the education system is different. So bringing it all together, combining Canadian styles with other styles, makes people more successful. Like in my group right now, it’s a team of 7 people, everybody’s from a different country and we’re one of the most successful teams I have seen in my working life.
TRIEC: So we’re nearly done and I’m wondering if you have a message for potential mentors, mentees and employer partners who are thinking about joining the program?
Issie: I see it on a personal level and on an institutional level; it makes a lot of sense. You get a lot out of it personally and the [positivity] of helping and meeting new people with unbelievable life experiences.
TRIEC: Is there anything else you’d like to share or add before we wrap up?
Lora: [Turning to Issie] Maybe this is a chance for me to say one more time, thank you.
Issie: [Smiles & laughs]
Lora: When [I look] back I understand and realize how much has been done, how long was the journey to get to my current situation, current life. So really, thank you.
Issie: You’re welcome. My pleasure. And it worked out well for both of us.
Lora and Issie participated in The Mentoring Partnership through Humber College. To see a full list of our service delivery partners across the GTA or to sign-up as a mentor visit thementoringpartnership.com.
The Mentoring Partnership matches internationally trained newcomers with established Canadians in occupation-specific partnerships to learn about the Canadian job market. Partnerships run 24 hours over 4 months with 75% of mentees reporting finding work in their professional field within 12 months of completing the program.