Jewish Tribune
February 19, 2009

Shlomit Kriger
Feature Correspondent

THORNHILL – It’s no secret that those mving to a new country often face barriers and challenges.

Thornhill resident Haya Zilberboim has demonstrated that with the proper attitude and connections, people can navigate through the hurdles.

Determined to create a bright future for her family, within about four years after emigrating from Israel to Canada, she has landed her current position as chief operating officer of Fishman Holdings North America Inc., the subsidiary of an Israeli investment group.

Zilberboim’s story is featured in 20 Journeys: a visual essay of the immigrant experience, a travelling photo exhibit that tells the stories of skilled immigrants who have successfully entered the local workforce. Presented by the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, 20 Journeys is on display at the Mississauga Civic centre until February 23.

When Zilberboim arrived in Canada in July 2004 with her husband and their three sons, they had to rebuild their lives. They left all of their relatives behind and only knew one couple in their new town.

“That was very difficult, especially in the first year,” said Zilberboim. “But we were excited to meet new people, have new adventures and learn about a new place.”

In Israel, Zilberboim worked as a certified public accountant and held top managerial positions in the high-tech industry.

To get her Canadian chartered accountant designation, she learned that she needed to go back to university. She also had to upgrade her English skills and gain 30 months of Canadian experience in a CA firm and write all final CA exams.

Since she has worked for KPMG in Israel, she decided to seek work at KPMG Canada. Using her contacts in Israel, she managed to get a job interview and be hired within a few weeks.

Although she considers herself lucky to have had a fairly smooth transition, Zilberboim thinks improvements can be made to help immigrants enter the local workforce.

“The process to get permanent residency in Canada isn’t easy, and the bar is set very high,” she said. “These immigrants are talented and educated people, but once they come here employers say they need Canadian experience to work for them. If you are an immigrant, this equation doesn’t work.”

Zilberboim noted that the Israeli government provides many programs to help new immigrants and use their experience and knowledge, and she would like to see more of that in Canada.

“If instead of the immigrants pulling the information the government will push the information and provide programs, both sides will benefit,” she said.

Zilberboim hopes that other immigrants remain confident that they, too, can find their way, adding that “immigrants have a lot to offer.”

Reference: Jewish Tribune