Starting a new life in Canada, a country that celebrates multiculturalism and presents everyone with the opportunity to grow and excel, was Abraham’s dream. His goal was to continue working as a supply chain specialist, a profession that had given him tremendous career satisfaction.
Before coming to Canada, Abraham received a bachelor’s degree in Economics and a Master of Business Administration (MBA), both from Nigeria. He had seven years of experience in supply chain, and his last job was as an Operations Manager in the telecommunication industry.
While getting ready to emigrate, Abraham planned to settle in Edmonton, but a friend from Calgary convinced him to live there. “I didn’t know anyone in Edmonton, but since my friend was going to help me get a place in Calgary before I landed, I changed my mind. My priority was to find shelter. Arriving in a hotel in Edmonton would have cost us more,” Abraham explains.
Hoping to return to his professional field, Abraham started sending resumes as soon as he settled in Calgary. He received a few calls from recruiters, but they all asked him for Canadian experience. He didn’t hear from those recruiters again.
Through perseverance, Abraham managed to land his first job, a contract position. He worked for six months as an inventory planner. “Inventory planning is a branch of supply chain. In Nigeria, I managed a company’s operation. I had a much higher-level job,” he says.
Before coming to Canada, Abraham didn’t know he would need a Canadian certification to get a job at the same professional level as the one he had back home. When his contract role ended, an acquaintance mentioned to Abraham how lucky he was to have landed the contract, considering his lack of Canadian credentials. They advised Abraham to upgrade his knowledge in supply chain.
Abraham took the recommendation to heart. Upon researching educational opportunities, he came across the Supply Management Training program at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), which was offered in partnership with the Supply Chain Management Association of Alberta (SCMA Alberta).
Abraham wasn’t employed at the time, but he managed to pay for the first five courses using his savings. While attending the program, he found a job at a management distribution centre for the eighth-largest retailer in the United States, operated by a third-party logistics company. For a year and a half, Abraham was a warehouse coordinator.
“I had six courses left and was out of money. I was going to suspend the program until I was able to raise some funds, but a fellow student referred me to Windmill Microlending because he had received a loan. I contacted Windmill, got a loan and was able to complete the program.”
During the time Abraham attended school, he came to realize just how different supply chain operations are from country to country. “There are a lot of laws, boundaries and policies put in place. In Nigeria, there were no trade boundaries among neighbouring countries. I could move things easily. In North America, it is quite different. There are policies and guidelines to be followed,” adds Abraham.
Upon completing the Supply Management Training program, Abraham joined a company in the oil and gas industry as a Materials Management Specialist. He was ecstatic. “Upgrading my knowledge in supply chain in Canada helped me a great deal. Before taking the program, I couldn’t get a good job in my line of work. The program opened a lot of opportunities for me,” he says.
To other immigrants, Abraham offers a piece of advice: “No matter your level of education, there are going to be ups and downs. When it goes down, never give up. You’ll find a way to get yourself back to where you used to be.”
Today, Abraham works in the transportation industry and resides with his family in Airdrie, Alberta, where they bought a home.
After receiving the financial assistance required to complete his program, Abraham feels that Windmill presents new immigrants with affordable financing to obtain the Canadian qualifications needed to secure a professional job, which in turn could lead to building a career in their chosen field.