When Yohannes Feyissa CPA, CGA came to Calgary from Ethiopia, he was a man on a mission. He needed a job, and was determined to find one in his chosen field of accounting, but it wasn’t until he had exhausted all online efforts and sent out countless resumes that the idea hit him—”I need to connect with the business world.”
Yohannes quickly learned about the challenges and difficulties that come with career searching in unknown territory. As someone new to Calgary, and the country, he also learned how important it is to meet and network with professionals who have experience in the local job market. Thankfully for Yohannes, he discovered CPA Alberta’s networking program; formally known as the Connector Program.
“As a new immigrant, I realized that connecting with a mentor was a must,” said Yohannes, Finance Officer at Agriteam Canada Consulting Co. “My first goal was to learn straight from the horse’s mouth about qualifications and experience required to get the job I was looking for. The Connector Program seemed like the right fit.”
Yohannes was connected with Geeta Tucker, FCPA, FCMA and CFO of Agriteam Canada Consulting. As someone who relocated to Alberta 19 years ago, Geeta understands the process of settling into a new city and having to reestablish a network. It was that experience that made her realize she had something to offer by volunteering in the program. “The program is a great way to meet people you wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to,” Geeta explains. “I think that speaks to the power of networking. You never know where one meeting can take you.”
Their initiation meeting wasn’t long, an hour at Starbucks, but it was all that was needed to start a new connection. “We talked about commonalities we had, such as donor relations, working in Ethiopia, what it’s like to work in Canada, strategies for expanding one’s networking, volunteering, and job search,” recalls Geeta.
Going into their meeting, Geeta had some initial concerns. “I was concerned that the program might create an expectation for being hired into the company. That isn’t always possible, but in the case of Yohannes, it was a very good fit.” At the time of their meeting, Agriteam’s business was exploding. “I had a gut feeling about Yohannes. He was easy to talk to. I thought, ‘this is someone I can work with,’” said Geeta. “I made a mental note about Yohannes.” After their meeting, Geeta introduced Yohannes to Agriteam’s Vice President so he could continue to build his network.
Six months after they met, and unknown to Geeta at their initial meeting, Agriteam won a bid on a project in Ethiopia. Yohannes’s experience, knowledge and background made for a win-win relationship for the Agriteam’s team. He’s now a Finance Officer with the company. “It was nice to have someone to talk to who shares my passion and experience,” said Yohannes of his meeting with Geeta. “I would 100 per cent recommend the Connector Program. There is nothing to lose!”
Coming full circle, Yohannes volunteers his time to help newcomers build their community in Calgary. His key advice to those who are starting to build their network, “Just talk to people. Talk to them on the bus, at church, at Stampede, at the grocery store—wherever you meet people. Talk to people about your family, your background, your experience, your life. That’s how people come to understand your situation and understand how they can help you. Unless people understand you, they can’t help you.”