Driven to Make a Difference

To begin with, I would like to express my gratitude to Profiles in Diversity Journal for this great honor. I feel proud—and a little awestruck—to be among leaders who brought real, positive difference to their workplace and beyond.

And I feel lucky that, throughout my career, I have found many women who inspire me. Recently I’ve looked to Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo. As a woman and visible minority leading a Fortune 500 company, she did more than boost the bottom line—she transformed the culture, with her strong moral compass, passion for communicating, and devotion to advancement and lifelong education for every member of her team.

My family came to Canada when I was a young teenager. In Kenya, my dad had been a successful businessman, but in Canada, despite his fluent English and accounting background, lack of Canadian experience kept him out of all but the most menial jobs. He even took a job cleaning washrooms at a golf club to support our family.

Even at that early age, I knew there was something wrong—that people shouldn’t have to struggle so hard to give their best to their new country. But I didn’t realize I could change things until one of my university professors told me the way to make change was to influence the policies that determine how newcomers are treated.

My career began on the front lines, as an employment counselor, helping newcomers facing the same challenges as my parents. But it was when I joined the Ontario Government that I really began to feel I could make a real difference. In fact, the achievement that’s closest to my heart was the creation of Canada’s first-ever international bridging program, which is designed to bridge the gap between skilled newcomers and the Canadian job market. Ontario’s bridging program has become the model for similar programs across Canada and beyond, and I still take great pride in that.

Making a difference is still a driving force for me at World Education Services Canada. In a way I’ve come full circle. Once again, my focus is on helping newcomers reach their full potential as professionals. What matters to me, and what ignites my passion, is knowing that through my work I’ve made other people’s lives better.