Mentoring Immigrants Helps Organizations Build Better Leaders

By all accounts, Raegan Paul’s journey in Canada has been both exciting and rewarding. Since he arrived here from India in 2007 to pursue an MBA at Montreal’s renowned HEC, he has managed to build a successful career. Yet this journey has been far from easy.

“I thought things would be simpler,” Raegan says. “But I realized how different the professional culture here is, how different the requirements of the employers are, and how many of them value Canadian experience.”

To his disadvantage, this was something he did not have “in his pocket” at the time, and it took a lot of effort and persistence to find opportunities in the field that he was aspiring to be in, applying the skills he had built outside Canada. Raegan currently works as Senior Program Manager at TELUS Health.

Giving back to the community, and sharing the learnings and experience he had accumulated over the years “to make the journey of those who are new to Canada a little bit easier” was the natural next step.

He signed up as a mentor in IEC-BC’s MentorConnect Program, and in a span of just two years he has mentored 7 skilled newcomers to Canada from half a dozen countries.

“For me it was about bringing a difference in the community one person at a time,” he says. “I knew that each person that I was working with would probably multiply it into a bigger and better change.”

For Raegan, mentoring was a chance to learn about different cultures. And it was also an opportunity to build his own skills –  to listen and to coach people, and to see the goodness and strength in them – all very important in any professional environment.

And even though mentoring usually starts at a very “cellular” level, it is extremely valuable for organizations as a whole. It exposes them to the diversity of skill sets and the diversity of thought that mentees bring. Potentially, this is a new pool of talent that organizations can tap into.

Another important aspect is growth of people who are mentors. Organizations that encourage such programs are building better leaders.

“They are giving them the time and space to practise their people skills, build on those skills, and then bring those skills back into the organization,” Raegan says.

He believes that ultimately mentors can help influence “how companies are thinking about foreign talent and their own HR practices.”