Calgary couple on mentorship: ‘It feels good to give back’
After immigrating to Canada from the Middle East and building successful careers in Calgary, Nadia Namini and Ali Roshannejad give back to their city through mentorship.
“Mentoring is a very good investment in the community,” says Ali.
Ali and Nadia are married and both are engineers working for The City of Calgary. They didn’t have the benefit of a mentorship program when they first arrived in Canada from Iran with their two sons.
“I think if I knew about it and there was this opportunity, it would have helped me a lot,” says Nadia, who immigrated in 1999.
Today, they give their time to ensure others don’t miss this opportunity. Ali and Nadia volunteer as CRIEC mentors and share their knowledge and experience with internationally trained professionals who are adapting to life in a new country.
“We’ve gone through challenges in settling down here: learning about cultural differences, networking, Canadian workplace culture and expectations,” recounts Nadia. “So we’re just trying to help others.”
“After a few years living here, it feels good to give back,” says Nadia.
As mentors — not just for CRIEC, but also other programs (such as APEGA mentorship and The City of Calgary’s summer student program) — they’ve discovered that their impact goes beyond what they can see at the time.
Ali recalls a recent meeting with his current mentee. Initially he didn’t feel he was being of much use. “At the end of the meeting I thought: ‘Sorry I couldn’t help you much,’” he says.
“Then my mentee sent me an email telling me: ‘I got lots of information from you. You might not see value in that because you somehow got to know these things; but for me, I’m new and your information provided me with great value in my career path.’”
Even when Ali thought he wasn’t conveying useful knowledge, he was.
“I can help with letting them know how the work culture is here, the Canadian style of doing things, what is expected from a professional,” says Ali. “These types of things.”
Ali and Nadia have also acquired great knowledge from their mentees.
“Mentorship is a two-way learning experience. I’ve learned a lot from my mentees about their culture and their countries,” notes Nadia. “It has strengthened my leadership skills and my communication skills. So it’s a great learning opportunity for me as well.”
As veteran mentors, what would they say to someone who hasn’t mentored, but is considering it?
“Try it and see,” says Nadia. “I think most people will find it to be a great experience.”
Nadia and Ali appreciate CRIEC and other mentorship programs for providing opportunity to make our community a better place to live and work for everyone.