September 24, 2007
Alan Rego and his wife emigrated from Singapore five years ago because they were looking for higher education opportunities for their oldest daughter.
“My wife and I felt we needed to do whatever we could to provide our two daughters with a platform to be successful,” says Rego whose children are now 22 and 17. “We chose Canada because it was open to immigrants and we had family here.”
It was a tough decision for Rego to leave what he called “a dream job” in Singapore. He was working at DuPont as their external affairs manager with eight Asian countries in his portfolio. But he figured, because he had established himself as a top communications specialist in Asia, he could reinvent himself as a top communications specialist in North America.
“I was expecting that the skills I brought here were transferable and that finding a job in my field wouldn’t be that difficult,” says Rego. “But I found employers’ doors were largely shut to newcomers’ skills.”
While his wife, a former teacher in Singapore, found a job with the ministry of finance, Rego worked in financial services and market research – a far cry from his chosen profession. But he never lost sight of his goal of becoming a communications specialist in Canada. With his wife’s support and some inspiring words from his oldest daughter, Rego was able to stay focused.
“My daughter put up inspiring posters throughout the house,” says Rego with a smile in his voice. “The one that was in my bedroom said, ‘What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.’ I read that one every morning when I work up. And on the rim of my coffee cup she inscribes the words, ‘Never stop dreaming.’ Those words of encouragement and my wife’s support kept me going. They helped me convert a setback into in a comeback.”
The comeback began when Rego got a job at Procter & Gamble through Career Bridge, an internship program for foreign trained professionals affiliated with the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC). After the internship they hired Rego, who is now the company’s manager of external relations.
“There were great moments of doubt for me in this country,” says Rego, how is originally fro India. “But once I made it I felt bad for Canada. It if wasn’t for [an organization like] TRIEC I would have never got an opportunity to showcase my abilities.
“Canada does such a great job of attracting very talented people to this wonderful country, but we do a shabby job of using their skills. If we were able to put all those skills to use, what an economic powerhouse this country would be.”
The experience Rego went through made him think about the thousands of people like himself who just needed a chance. So two year ago, Rego, along with 12 other interns in the Career Bridge program, started an organization called CAMP (Communications, Advertising and Marketing Professionals).
CAMP is a self-help support network in Toronto for internationally trained professionals in the communication, advertising, sales and marketing fields. They meet once a month and call themselves a self-help group of immigrants helping immigrants.
“The idea in the beginning was that the 12 of us would share stories and swap experiences so we could learn from each other,” says Rego. “We now have over 150 members and our purpose is still the same, to enhance each others professional success.”
Last Wednesday at TRIEC’s 2007 Immigrant Success Awards, Rego received an award for Outstanding Achievement in Immigrant success. This was in recognition of his work with CAMP in helping other immigrants succeed. “I was very honoured by the award, but I believe every newcomer that succeeds makes Canada stronger,” says Rego. “I believe that through the work we’re doing at CAMP, I am helping newcomers succeed sooner.”
Visit campnetworking.ca for more information.
Reference: Toronto Sun