Let me tell you about Arnold D’Souza and how he built a meaningful and well-paying job in Canada by having a clear career path and networking.
Arnold moved to Canada 8 years ago, from Dubai, where he handled the logistics for 40 countries and 27 distributors for General Electric as a commercial analyst. Currently he works as a Business Development Associate for SCMA.
His family was accepted to immigrate to Canada while he was still in University and he was already working for a couple of years by the time all the immigration paper work was ready. Arnold says he decided to come to Canada because he can’t take the heat in Dubai! He often jokes that the Canadian winter was definitely made for him because he is always too hot.
Arnold’s initial plan when entering Canada was to complete an MBA, but he realized that a professional designation would make him more employable, so after going to a career fair at MacEwan University, he went the route of becoming a supply chain management professional and has never looked back. Arnold applied to take the SCMP designation to become a supply management professional and met with the education coordinator to discuss his past experience and education before entering into the program. It sounds ideal. But it wasn’t easy!
Shortly after arriving in Canada, he used all his savings and was desperate to find work to pay his bills. He started out working at Superstore as a greeter, and then at CIBC. His daily routine was: wake up at 5:00, work until 12:00 then go to CIBC and work until 7:00 p.m., go to MacEwan University every evening and take a full four course load (to upgrade his education an earn a Canadian certification), get home by midnight and go to bed. Repeat every day for two years. Whew!
Then something happened that made Arnold rethink his idea about working 24/7…
After his two year overwork experience, Arnold worked in a supply chain related field as a procurement specialist for a clothing company, spending long hours at work and not having much of a life. He had a hunch that things were about to get problematic and decided to look for other work, sending in applications. One week after making that decision, he was laid off and the company closed down. The day Arnold was laid off, he sat in his car and texted all his buddies saying he had been laid off and needed to find a job. In six hours he had a new job!
That was the moment Arnold realized he needed to expand his network and change his lifestyle.
So quick Segway – let’s talk a bit about the Supply Chain Management Association where Arnold now works so you can see if it could be an option for you. I asked Arnold why he was so passionate about supply chain and this is what he said:
“I’m all about getting things done. If you like to make things happen and if you like to find solutions to problems, this is an exciting career. It changes every day. There are new problems to solve or solutions to find regularly. I like procurement and logistics because I can use my skills to negotiate. In Dubai I had to get medical supplies and perishable medical resources in a short timeline to hospitals who used the supplies to save lives. I was satisfied that I could move mountains and solve real problems for people.” If this sounds like you, read on!
Arnold tells newcomers that if they like problem-solving environments, and are interested in logistics, supply chain, inventory control, merchandising, warehousing, or purchasing, they probably already have experience in some aspect of supply chain from their past jobs in home countries. Supply Chain is an open industry, you can come into it from beverages and food to hospitals and university text books – basically anything or anyone (like for example teams of doctors working in a project in another country) that has to move from one place to another is part of supply chain.
Entry level in Supply Chain is for people who want a new career opportunity and provides them with a diploma to get started in the field. Supply chain is in every industry and since all these industries have a supply chain department, it is a good way to transition into a related field in your area of knowledge. The SCMA (Alberta Supply Chain) association does an analysis to tell you what you might be missing for your designation and how to fill in any blanks.
SCMA offers programs and provide services, and like other professional associations are affiliated with colleges and universities. They have 1700 members in Alberta who pay membership dues and maintain their designation, or as non-designated members they choose to be a part of the community, so they can access the conference and resources, courses and benefits of joining the association including the great networking opportunities. You have to maintain your credits every year to keep your designation for ongoing professional development and stay current, which is why employers see the designation as being desirable. These are the different ways you can enter into the association:
SMT – entry level
SCMP – professional designation
PD – professional development
Membership is $440 per year, about $36 per month. This includes research, resources, membership portal, discounts, insurance and other membership loyalty rewards. Application is online.
As an aside, a lot of project managers, accountants and engineers take this designation because it makes them more valuable to the organization and gives them more job options for the future.
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How Arnold became a master networker
After being laid off, Arnold realized his network consisted of only a few friends because he spent all his time working and studying. He considered himself lucky that his friends were able to help him get connected but he made the decision to actively and intentionally grow his professional network so he would not find himself in this position again. His advice now is that if you are working 8-10 hours a day, spend an hour a day on your career development by networking.
What is networking, really? Simple. It means connecting with other people, staying in touch and developing relationships. You can do that through your interests, it doesn’t have to be a formal networking event. For example, Arnold is a Latin dancer and competes professionally. Through his hobbies and interests, as well as the occasional professional event, he eventually created a strong network that not only helps his career development but assists others with theirs.
Arnold sees networking as a joy because all his daily activities are opportunities to network.
His logic is this: “Don’t put all your efforts into your job that only benefits your employer. Make sure you keep some time for yourself so that your career continues to develop, that is how you invest in yourself.”
Your time spent investing in networking makes your career resilient no matter what happens in the economy.
A big believer in intuition, Arnold watches for the “signs in the universe” and trusts his gut reaction when it comes to knowing when he needs to look for work elsewhere. If he feels there is something not quite right, he doesn’t wait for the job ship to sink around him before looking for a lifeboat. He finds new paths in advance, so he has options and negotiating power.
In addition to this alertness to what is going on around him at work, Arnold does things outside of work that keep him happy. Some of his interests are volleyball, food photography, food and dancing. These activities he does for fun are great ways to meet people, and he doesn’t have to limit career networking to formal networking events.
With his attitude of “always be networking”, one skill Arnold has developed is talking about his skills naturally in conversation as it comes up. He listens actively to others, has a natural conversation, and when the opportunity comes up, mentions something he does well and provides an example. He believes that this is why people he meets remember him, keep him in mind for opportunities, and their examples allow him to remember them. This method has allowed Arnold to develop a large and active network, so if you need a person, thing, path or connection to a group, you are likely to find one by talking to Arnold.
Some final advice from Arnold D’Souza to would-be career builders is:
“Have fun in everything you do – life is too short to have regrets. Love whatever you do in the moment.”
By way of example he explained, “When I was in Superstore greeting people, and directing them to the things they were looking for, my boss told me I was having too much fun! If you make your job fun you will go to sleep peacefully and you will enjoy every moment of your day.”
He suggests, “Don’t just focus on the bills to pay and your responsibilities or you will always come home angry and frustrated.” He continues, “Focus instead on the joy of each moment and have fun! Your family, kids and friends will appreciate it.” Arnold’s happiness strategy is a model for anyone to turn every experience into an opportunity for joy. People who are energetic, fun and helpful are the potential employees recruiters look for, so it is always a good career move to find something you enjoy at your job, no matter what it is.
One strategy he uses regularly to network is asking others for help – strategically. Over the course of a conversation, he asks them who they know, what groups they can introduce him to and what problems he is trying to solve that they could help out with. Mentioning an issue as part of the conversation, and asking for advice often makes people want to help you more. Remember: Don’t tell them your whole life story! Just focus on one thing you would like to get advice on and you will find there are many people who want to help out.
So let’s look at Arnold D’Souza’s strategies for developing a professional network – the fun way!
- Always be networking – look for daily opportunities to have conversations with people
- Do things for fun and connect with people as you are having fun.
- Introduce your skills, interests and talents in a natural way during a conversation as it comes up. Find out the same from the person you are speaking with. That way you are both going to remember each other and better connect to potential opportunities.
- Ask for help and advice, people love to help.
- Enjoy everything you do as you are doing it – joy is contagious and attracts potential good employers!
- Spend time on things that will allow you to grow your professional network, not just work or solitary activities, that is how you invest in yourself.
Want to see the whole interview? Check it out here.
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Marie Gervais, PhD, CEO Shift Management is a business-to-business entrepreneur who specializes in helping employers train their middle management to lead, get their workplace learning online and interactive, and conduct team assessments to figure out who to promote and how. She has a background in integrating internationally-trained individuals to the workplace and has supported many businesses in their efforts to hire, retain, support and promote immigrant and diverse employees.
Get in touch – she would love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org or 780-454-5661