Craig Alexander is Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist for the Conference Board of Canada. He shares his experience of being a mentor with TRIEC Mentoring Partnership.

I became a mentor with TRIEC Mentoring Partnership when I worked with TD Bank. At first I was reluctant to join. I had a very busy job as the Deputy Chief Economist at TD Economics, and felt the time commitment might be too onerous. However, TD was a huge champion of diversity, and I was writing research on immigration policy and labour market outcomes. I thought I should volunteer and help newcomers directly.

“TRIEC Mentoring Partnership was one of the best experiences I have had.”

As it turned out, mentoring fit my work-life balance well and the time commitment was very manageable. Here’s why I think mentoring is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your career, newcomer professionals, and Canada’s workforce.

“Whether you’re in a formal leadership role or not, this is an important skill for your own career development.”

Being part of TRIEC Mentoring Partnership has been one of the best experiences I have had. Mentoring is a skill.  And, like any skill it is developed by doing it. All workers, whether Canadian-born or newcomer, benefit from mentoring relationships.  Mentoring will help you grow your own skills as a leader and mentor. It will help you develop and retain talent and unlock people’s full potential.

“Mentoring is one of the best ways you can help newcomers, working one-on-one with them.”

All of my mentees were awesome – very skilled and experienced professionals. Working with them helped me gain a strong appreciation of the challenges immigrants face.  They were so talented, yet, it’s not easy for them to succeed in their job search. While Canada is very welcoming to newcomers, many Canadian employers do not properly value foreign education, skills or work experience.

All the same, they were excited about Canada and their positive attitude was infectious and I looked forward to every meeting with them.

“Canada’s economy will only be successful if we attract and retain international talent.”

Immigration accounts for more and more of population growth, as the Canadian-born population ages.  For employers, it means an ever more diverse workforce. For businesses, it means ever more diverse customers. For policymakers, it means a more diverse population. By working with and mentoring newcomers you come to understand the value of diversity and overcome some of the challenges by garnering a greater appreciation for what immigrants have to offer. Canada’s society will only succeed if everyone experiences a rising standard of living. I believe that mentoring helps to achieve these goals.

When I started my career, no one talked about mentoring and coaching. I was blessed with many good managers and I learned a lot from them. Their advice has been extremely valuable.  Over time I have realized that many former managers have been mentors and coaches – we just never used the term. I also think mentors learn a lot from their mentees, and I would recommend the experience to anyone.

If you feel inspired by Craig Alexander’s words, it only takes a few minutes to register online as a mentor. TRIEC and our partners will match you with an immigrant professional in your field to work with over three months, meeting once a week in person or by phone, and communicating by email.