Helping to build a welcoming and inclusive province: Roshanak Sadeghi-Zadeh

Mentors played a huge role in helping Roshanak Sadeghi-Zadeh settle in Canada, and now she is assisting others by being a mentor and practice interviewer at ISANS. “Mentors really impacted my life,” says Roshanak. “They empowered me to find my way in this big scary new world when I first came to Canada.”

Roshanak had earned a Master’s in Science and taught physics in her homeland of Iran before moving to Toronto with her husband and baby daughter in 2002. She changed her focus, earning her TESL Certificate in Adult Learning and Continuing Education and Teaching from Lasalle College, and then working as a college and language school instructor. “It was a great experience for me to learn the culture while teaching.” She changed careers yet again in 2008, graduating in Human Resources Management from Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology, followed by a job with Bombardier.

Although she and her physician husband found Toronto diverse and welcoming, they moved to Halifax for a quieter environment to raise their two daughters, now 11 and 16. She worked in Human Resources with Halifax Housing Authority, and then became Manager Human Resources at Halifax Public Libraries.

Roshanak was a mentor through a Human Resources organization, but still felt something was missing. “It’s about the feeling and passion to give back to newcomers. They come the same way I came with two suitcases and hope.” She reached out to ISANS who matched her with three women, two from the Philippines and one from India.

Roshanak met with each under ISANS’ formal framework and orientation structure with particular expectations and check-in. Together they determined individual goals and how to reach them. They stayed in touch weekly, whether in person or electronically. Roshanak helped with their resumes and job interviews. “It depends on need; sometimes they get a call for an interview, so I’d go the next day to practice. I know how panicky it can be!”

Two women found jobs in their field, and one is studying further. “I know how important it is to have a trusted advisor to take that journey with you,” she says, explaining that networking, writing resumes and doing interviews can be different or nonexistent in other cultures. Having formed a strong connection, she continues to stay in touch.

Roshanak is also called upon by ISANS to lead competency- and behaviour-based interviews, done as role-play with feedback, but her true passion lies with mentoring. “It’s so rewarding to see that you can help someone with your time, knowledge and whatever it takes,” she says proudly. “I’m an emotional person. When I hear my mentees get an interview or a job, I am in the middle of the hallway screaming. Their success is your success.”