Ishpreet Lamba, Fall 2010

Ishpreet Lamba, CMA knows his way around balance sheets, financial forecasts and business bottom lines. He’s Senior Financial Analyst at Exel Global Logistics Canada and Finance Manager for the Syncrude account. With a Bachelor of Business Studies (majoring in economics) and his CMA designation, Ishpreet is a respected – and busy – member of the Edmonton business community.

He’s also deeply committed to Edmonton – and to helping other new Canadians make the most of their new home city.

Ishpreet moved to Edmonton from England in late 2007. He has also worked in Europe, Australia and the U.S “If my experience and knowledge can help somebody else, then I would like to help,” Ish said.

Ish is a man of his word. He offers his volunteer services to several organizations, including the Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council (ERIEC). From January to April 2011, Ish mentored two new Canadian professionals, Sanjeev Sharma from India and Mustafa Akkaya from Turkey, for about 90 minutes a week.

Ish understands a newcomer’s top priority. “The first thing anyone needs is a job. Until you can feed your family, your attention span is short. You need to be hooked into the job circuit. Once you can fill your basic needs, then you can rise, step by step, up the professional ladder.” With that understanding, Ish first reviewed his mentees’ curriculum vitaes (CVs).

Ish also focused on business communication, including the language his mentees need for interviews and for fitting into the Canadian workplace culture. “The chat around the proverbial water cooler is really important. Either you participate or you are left out. These discussions happen off the cuff so you have to be ready to jump in. I encouraged Sanjeev and Mustafa to listen to the media so they could learn about politics and sports and other topics.”

He also helped his mentees build their professional language skills by linking them into the Certified Management Accountants’ professional website, telling them, “You’re in Canada now, in the accounting profession. Without this lingo you won’t progress to interviews. Employers expect you to talk their professional language.”

Ish also had Sanjeev and Mustafa work on five-year professional roadmaps. “You have to know where you’re headed or you won’t know when you’ve succeeded.” Sanjeev and Mustafa rose to the challenge. One said the exercise was enlightening, making a commitment to complete his professional designation by 2013.

As well, he reviewed interview scenarios and questions. “For anything in life you need to do a 20-second SWOT analysis. This is a very valuable skill to prepare for any business interaction including an interview,” Ish commented. He also told his mentees a few home truths about Canada. For one, Canadians are very honest and hard-working. “Canadians will believe what you tell them. Don’t take advantage of that trait. Once you breach this trust, you have lost.” He’s also observed that Canadians and for that matter, North Americans do not have a perfect work and personal life balance, as compared to the Europeans. They tend to work more and play less.

Ish feels a deep sense of personal satisfaction in helping his mentees. “Relationships are always a two-way street. You always learn from another person. Mustafa, for example, offered many Turkish experiences and perspectives, highlighting differences in our cultures. If I have a Turkish client in future, I will be better prepared to talk to that person.”

He found more than enough payback from his role as mentor to want to continue his volunteer role with ERIEC. “The organization is very much on the right track from a business perspective.” He applauds ERIEC’s screening procedures, the workshops and its hands-on approach.

“I really like having both mentors and mentees attend the same workshop. There is a transparency in having everyone together. Mentees need to have faith that they are being treated as equals, as professionals. The workshop allows them to do that. As well, they can see how the mentors act themselves. They, too, ask questions and interact among their peers. You don’t learn by reading books; you learn by seeing and doing. ERIEC understands this.”