“It was an eye-opener on how to approach continuing my career in a new country. It highlighted many difficulties and misconceptions commonly encountered by new Canadians, and helped me to avoid them in my job search,” says Luis Rivero about a course for professionals that he took through MOSAIC – a registered charity that serves immigrant, newcomer and refugee communities in Greater Vancouver – not long after moving to Vancouver from Bolivia.
Having benefitted as a student, Luis was later inspired to give back as a teacher; today Luis volunteers with MOSAIC as a mentor to foreign-trained professionals.
Raised in La Paz, Bolivia, Luis completed his post-secondary education in the US, obtaining a bachelor of science in business at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. From there, he returned to Bolivia to work in asset and mutual fund management, and as a general manager responsible for financial reporting, compliance, and business development. Today he works as a controller with West Care Medical Ltd.
Transition to working in Canada
After moving to Vancouver in 2005, Luis earned his professional accounting designation, motivated by his desire to take on more advanced roles. Says Luis, “The controller at my first office job pointed out that without Canadian professional certification, it would be hard to find work with greater levels of responsibility.” He notes, “Having worked in finance for several years in Bolivia, many of my experiences translated to practical knowledge that I could apply while earning my designation and completing my work experience.”
As a volunteer with MOSAIC, Luis mentors foreign-trained professionals who intend to continue their accounting careers in Canada. One area he assists them with is navigating the job search. When asked about a pervasive challenge his mentees encounter he responds, “I think that there are some common assumptions that are hard to dismiss. For example, many people expect to find work at the same level they previously had in their home countries before accumulating some Canadian experience. Also, people assume the best way to find opportunities is online.”
To overcome these challenges, he promotes embracing education and staying flexible. “Obtain Canadian credentials even if you feel you don’t need them, find opportunities to prove yourself and your skill set, and don’t be set on a given title that would seem to be the natural next step in your career,” Luis says. “If your search is not producing the results you expect, don’t hesitate to go for less demanding jobs. It will open doors for you.” He also notes that it’s important to nurture a network, saying, “Over time, relationships are bound to bring you the opportunities that never make it to the job boards.”