In Business, Success Stories

Written by Sharon Aschaiek
 

Newcomer’s career takes off with workplace communication course

As a senior project manager at a major Canadian bank, Soroush Mosavati helps the bank operate its engineering transformation more effectively. A seasoned Agile professional, Mosavati enjoys building on his 17 years of experience in delivering technology to help improve the bank’s business operations.

Workplace Communication Skills for Professional Managers Alumni Soroush Mosavati

Soroush Mosavati

Of course, as every immigrant knows, understanding the nuances of a country’s culture is also critical to career success. That’s why OSLT also deals with workplace social and power dynamics, and builds skills such as asking for and giving feedback, and making small talk.

What’s remarkable about Mosavati’s story is that he is a recent immigrant who, after leaving behind a successful career in Iran and crossing the ocean to Canada, has been able to return to fulfilling employment in his chosen field. And what has eased his professional journey and allowed him and his wife to comfortably settle in Toronto is Occupation-specific Language Training (OSLT).

For internationally educated professionals in Canada, OSLT courses provide a way to understand the Canadian labour market, and the industry language and cultural dynamics of specific sectors, occupations and workplaces.

In December 2017, Mosavati joined an OSLT course offered at George Brown College: Workplace Communication Skills for Professional Managers. Geared to permanent residents or protected persons in Ontario with training or experience as a business or technology manager, the course focused on:

  • understanding management within business and technology workplaces in the province
  • interacting effectively with co-workers and supervisors
  • networking with employers and accessing employment resources

In a classroom with other internationally trained professionals from countries in South America, Asia and Europe, Mosavati completed practical assignments and took part in exercises with the faculty and other classmates to develop his written and verbal workplace communication skills. These included writing reports, sending emails, making presentations and participating in job interviews.

“We role-played job interviews and discussed what we should expect in an interview, what kind of questions will be asked, and what we should ask the employer,” Mosavati says. “The experience was so helpful, because these are the things we need to know when looking for work.”

Of course, as every immigrant knows, understanding the nuances of a country’s culture is also critical to career success. That’s why OSLT also deals with workplace social and power dynamics, and builds skills such as asking for and giving feedback, and making small talk.

“In my home country, there is more hierarchy in enterprise workplaces. Managers have a lot of authority and you cannot challenge them,” Mosavati says. “It was important to learn how it’s different here, because companies want more than technical competencies.”

While taking the OSLT course, Mosavati was also participating in a mentorship program through the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council. That program led to him connecting with the bank, and he was able to draw on his OSLT training to make the right impression over four interview sessions. He was hired in April 2018, and was promoted to his current role a year later.

Even today, the OSLT course offers value. He has an expanded professional network and exchanges job leads and tips on LinkedIn with his former classmates. He also continues to use the communication skills he learned, on the job.

“I see how everything I learned comes into play in a real workplace,” he says. “As part of my job I always run meetings and do presentations, and what I learned in the course is still useful.”

Occupation-specific Language Training (OSLT) courses are free workplace communication training courses for immigrants. They are available full-time or part-time; classroom-based or online. These courses are offered at many Ontario colleges and cover a range of occupations in business, construction, health sciences, human services and technology. OSLT is funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and coordinated by Colleges Ontario.

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Patricia Matos, Workplace Communication Skills for Professional Managers Alumni