Our LYP series titled “Stories from Successful Immigrant Women” features women from diverse backgrounds and industries who share powerful insights and advice they have learnt from building their careers in a new country.
Enjoy Part 2 of my chat with Leticia Sanchez!
Q4: What is your favorite detour or failure in your career, and how did that set you up for even more success?
A4: One of my most significant detours was when I first arrived in Canada and had to start my career from scratch, despite having achieved some degree of success in Mexico. It was a challenging and isolating time, and I often doubted myself. However, it was during such moments that I realized the importance of maintaining a healthy mindset. I learned to focus on clarity by picturing what I truly wanted. It was through clarity that I developed mental strength, which was essential for overcoming self-doubt and external challenges. I also recognized that hearing "no" is not a failure but an opportunity to persevere and dig deeper. Rejections and obstacles have fueled my determination to succeed, and I've come to appreciate the value of a strong mindset and unwavering perseverance.
Q5: What recommendations would you give other immigrant women of color as they navigate professional hurdles?
A5: I would recommend that immigrant women of color prioritize using their voice within their organizations. It's crucial that our voices are heard, and when they're not, don't hesitate to escalate the situation to your superiors. In my experience, I was supported by a great boss who advocated for me. A willingness to speak up and escalate issues is not only beneficial for your own experience but also for the organization as a whole. It demonstrates a healthy working environment when they are willing to step in and ensure a comfortable work environment for women. Additionally, your willingness to use your voice can lead to positive changes in toxic work environments. I encourage women to be proactive in using their voices and escalating when necessary.
Q6: What value have you found in community over the years of your career, and what resources are out there for women who are seeking to build or be established in community to achieve career success?
A6: Community has played a crucial role in my career development. When I first arrived in Canada, I wasn't sure about my career goals, but I knew that volunteering was essential to me. I started by randomly joining organizations without necessarily aligning with their purposes, for instance, I joined one that promoted musical events. While seemingly unrelated to my goals, it was through these experiences that I connected with people who introduced me to Canadian culture and community. This reflection helped me identify that my true passion was professional development, and I began to seek opportunities that aligned with it.Later, I joined organizations that focused on professional development. It was through these communities that I built my network and made lifelong friends.
My advice to other women is to find something you care about and join communities centered around that interest. Be open to connecting with people and contribute to and learn from those communities.
Q7: What advice would you give your younger self when you just came to Canada, and what advice would you give your older self in 20 years?
A7: To my younger self, I would advise her to start networking as soon as possible. As a newcomer, building a network is essential, and the sooner you start, the better for your career. I waited initially, shying away from speaking due to insecurities about my accent and my English proficiency. However, that time I spent being insecure was wasted. Start networking right away and overcome your shyness. Additionally, work on your public speaking skills, as it can significantly impact your career. Don't underestimate the power of your voice in the workplace.
For my older self in 20 years, I would emphasize the importance of continuous learning and skill development. The world is ever evolving, and staying relevant and flexible in your career is essential. The pursuit of knowledge and skill acquisition ensures you have the flexibility to switch careers and remain valuable and adaptable. Keep learning and growing to meet the changing demands of the professional landscape.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adetola Oladimeji is a medical doctor and a global health leader who is deeply interested in the use of digital health technologies for optimizing population health outcomes. She is committed to lifelong learning, continuous personal development, and intentional community building. Check out her research and other publications here.