Ryan Drew started her journey with the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. team back in 1999 as a part-time language instructor. By 2006, Ryan was invited to join the team full-time and has since held a variety of positions. In 2018, she was appointed to her current role, Director of Integrated Services for Newcomers.
S.U.C.C.E.S.S. is the only organization in Canada that has a full range of settlement services, this includes our pre-arrival services, port of entry services at YVR and then post-arrival services. Ryan manages the integration of the diverse range of S.U.C.C.E.S.S. services and facilitates communication between departments. Ryan is always looking for new ways to foster collaborative teamwork so S.U.C.C.E.S.S. can provide wrap-around supports for all clients.
During her 23 years at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Ryan has had the opportunity to work with S.U.C.C.E.S.S. staff in various capacities, today she describes her team members as family. When asked about why she has stayed with the organization for so long, she states that when you work at S.U.C.C.E.S.S., “not only do we get to have an impact on individual lives, but we have an impact on the entire community.”
One of the highlights of her S.U.C.C.E.S.S. journey is during the pandemic, Ryan was involved in facilitating a series of learning opportunities for staff surrounding anti-racism, bystander training, and anti-oppressive communication.
Gregory’s journey at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. starts in October 2014 as an English teacher. In 2019, he became a Language lead at the Fraser office, drawing on his teaching experience to mentor the team to create lessons for the students. Gregory makes sure that everything at the office runs smoothly in order to deliver effective classes and avoid overwhelming situations at work.
Being in a management position has taught Gregory how to engage with his team to serve them better despite working remotely, looking for the human touch is important to not make them feel isolated. He believes, “offices are not machines, they are houses of humans. Things are always changing, and the challenge is to be creative finding a way to make things better.”
Gregory describes his S.U.C.C.E.S.S. experience as a learning process where he is free to try new things and encouraged to implement changes. The community building inspires him daily, and S.U.C.C.E.S.S. has opened his eyes to learn and talk more about diversity and decolonization.
“The organization cares about me and wants to retain me,” Gregory says, referring to the different trainings he’s had such as conflict resolution which he has applied to his professional and personal life. On top of it, the employee benefits are excellent, “I can address health issues as needed,” and the paid time off is great, no questions asked.”
Dorna started her relationship with S.U.C.C.E.S.S. when immigrated to Canada as a client in the Immigrant Settlement and Integration Program at the Burnaby location. After volunteering for almost three years at the front desk and helping to run events, in November 2021, Dorna became a full-time Project Facilitator at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. on her role, she organizes workshops, and education material related to health particularly COVID-19 and dementia in different languages, particularly for the Farsi community is challenging to find community services on these topics.
The friendly, multicultural and supportive environment at work meeting newcomers inspires her to give back while improving her skills and increasing her network, “specifically immigrants who I want to help with my knowledge and skills because I got help.” Dorna emphasised.
Dorna calls her experience working at S.U.C.C.E.S.S., “miraculous,” particularly in those moments when despite the language barriers, people communicate through their body language. Dorna acknowledges that she has supportive managers and says the work-life balance culture inspires her to go to work knowing that at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. everybody is equal. As she says, “S.U.C.C.E.S.S. is a place to learn from each other and understand other cultures.”
Knowing S.U.C.C.E.S.S. from the inside out and playing different roles, Dorna has developed different skills that today, as a Project Facilitator, are helping the community by sharing trusted information to support the wellbeing of her clients “when we help our clients, we also learn from them.” Dorna concludes.
When Harrison’s family immigrated to Canada in 1994 S.U.C.C.E.S.S. provided them with assistance. So, years later, when he saw the opportunity to work here when a role opened during the pandemic, he went for it.
In his role, Harrison draws from his experience in the private sector to create best practices to drive engagement internally, building trust and connection to make others aware that S.U.C.C.E.S.S. as a reputable employer that cares. “Every day there is something new, a new challenge to address, when working in the private sector I was behind the scenes, whereas at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. you are part of the improvements,” he says.
Harrison treasures the flexibility of the organization, particularly while he was adapting to a new place and sector while working remotely. The outcome of this experience has been one of his biggest achievements: the new hybrid policy which is “adaptable for everybody and maximizes resources.”
As a mid-career professional in the HR field, working at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. has allowed Harrison to challenge himself in a supporting environment. He shares that at S.U.C.C.E.S.S., maybe you end up taking a position you never imagined, because you discover new career opportunities adding value to your professional development. “If you want to work with talented people that really care,” Harrison says, “this is your place.”
Waleed was inspired by his experience as a refugee from Iraq to support other newcomers making their life easier until they become citizens as a volunteer for S.U.C.C.E.S.S. “I promised myself to give people the information they need,” he remembers, adding that working at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. is a “call to help others.”
In 2019, Waleed applied for the Settlement Practitioner role at S.U.C.C.E.S.S and now he supports the Arabic speaking community. He has also had the opportunity to support a broader audience with employment services, walking clients through their job-seeking journey, as well as providing resources to the LGBTQ2S+ community.
Waleed says his experience as a staff member working for a multicultural organization goes beyond a typical job description. “Here I never feel behind or less than,” he says. I’m part of a community that needs me because I make the difference.”
The training and the employee benefits allow Waleed to have the mind to be focused on finding solutions for his clients knowing his wellbeing is taken care of. The value of respect at S.U.C.C.E.S.S resonates with Waleed and it is an inspiration to his daily interaction at work: “If you want to have a purpose go to S.U.C.C.E.S.S.”
Crystal has explored three different positions at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. over her career. She started in direct client services seeing the progress and success of the clients. Then, as an English teacher she worked with students on developing their skills to get into different fields such health care, customer service and security.
Working as a teacher at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. she had the opportunity to meet different people and learn from different cultures. After 20 years of being an English teacher, Crystal was encouraged by a supervisor to become a Best Practice Coordinator in May 2021, launching her into a new challenge. “When I’m teaching newcomers,” Crystal says, “we have such a connection to get together and practice the language—learning never stops.”
Neither does the gratitude she receives from students—at the end of one term, a student wrote her a poem using pictures of flowers Crystal had shared as conversation starters. “It was beyond what I have received as a teacher,” she recalls.
When she had to move to Vancouver Island, S.U.C.C.E.S.S. flexed with her to permit remote work. “The future is working remotely and S.U.C.C.E.S.S is very good at it,” she says. “Our hybrid model has shown this future is doable.” Crystal is grateful to be part of a workplace culture where everybody is “very helpful and generous with their time, they trust me to work on the assigned task—this gives me a lot of freedom."
As a recent newcomer to Canada, Vladyslav he remembers how he got support from S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Now, he truly understands the importance of supporting his Ukrainian community in this uncertain time, and he wants to make sure that they know about the resources available for them.
Vladyslav was hired as a Settlement Practitioner for the Ukrainian and Russian communities in summer 2022 and quickly adapted to the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. outlook and is busy giving back. “As a translator I build bridges for people, I can be useful,” he says. While learning, he reaches out to other more experienced team members to get valuable resources and advice, making him feel supported. “My mentor who is another settlement practitioner shows me how to be better in what I do.”
Vladyslav has diverse language skills. He speaks Russian, Ukrainian, English, French and Arabic. He was a translator and interpreter back home and worked in Saudi Arabia as an administrative assistant and interpreter for businesses. He also worked for the Minister of Infrastructure supporting in aligning the Ukrainian legislation with the European Union. And today, he is putting all of that background at the service of his community.
Vladyslav is helping our Ukrainian arrivals efforts because he knows the language and more importantly, he has the first-hand experience needed to provide more personal assistance to newcomers. At S.U.C.C.E.S.S. we have “customized services because we are a client-oriented organization,” he explains. Because of it, he says, working at S.U.C.C.E.S.S “is fulfilling, it is not a job it is a call.”
Lana is celebrating her third anniversary at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. When she began her S.U.C.C.E.S.S. story, she was coming from the private sector and didn’t have much knowledge about the social service industry. Yet, she discovered it was “the most rewarding thing I can do.”
Before she became a Project Coordinator, she started as a business coach for the Immigrant Women Entrepreneurship Program. Later, she transitioned to a role at the Work BC Self- Employment program before landing her current position. She never expected this kind of swift professional growth when she first started.
Being an immigrant herself, she understands what other newcomers deal with and how she can help. At S.U.C.C.E.S.S. “I’ve grown immensely personally and professionally, I discovered helping is my calling,” Lana says. “I get to connect with people on a deep level, no matter if it is a client or colleague, we deal with life-changing, goals and dreams, daily life topics. I feel honoured to be able to do this job. It’s the most rewarding thing I can do.”
Lana gets daily motivation from seeing the growth of her clients and team, while learning something new from different people, all in a diverse environment. In short, working at S.U.C.C.E.S.S she feels heard and supported. “My managers are mentors,” she says, “they are there to help me to get what I want in my career and life.”
Tala’s first interaction with S.U.C.C.E.S.S. goes back to 2008 when she began working at the BC Employment Program, in a role funded by the government. Later, in 2014, she again encountered S.U.C.C.E.S.S. through a Work BC partnership. In January 2022 Tala found a role that was right for her and she joined S.U.C.C.E.S.S. as a full-time Settlement Practitioner. “It is an open door, when they see the potential in you, they just hire you,” she recalls, “they care about staff and clients, it is not only words.”
Tala speaks English, Farsi, Darsi, and Kurdish. Her fluency in all of them has been beneficial in her role supporting clients with their settlement needs and having a smooth transition into Canadian society. “As a refugee claimant myself, I know my clients' needs and the kind of help they need,” she explains.
Interacting with humble and supportive supervisors at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. has changed her viewpoint about what a manager is meant to be. “I see them as actual leaders, if you are looking for a job with people that are working for real leadership skills, S.U.C.C.E.S.S. is the place,” she says, adding she’s provided with everything possible to have a less stressful work environment with a work-life balance.
“At S.U.C.C.E.S.S. you are not a number to meet deadlines,” she says. “I knew in my job interview that I was in the right place.”
After employed in sales, predominantly consulting about business development and marketing, "giving back to the community in a different way" inspired Denise to explore working in the non-profit sector.
Denise has been a Business Coach at the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Burnaby location, helping women of all ages to gain the business skills they need to make their entrepreneurial dream tangible from starting to expanding the business, in this program they learn how to navigate the system. In her one-to-one coaching, she unleashes the experience women got back home, and optimizes the potential of supporting women of all ages, from working on a positive mindset to budgeting. She ensures that women complete their program cycle, even when some attendees are still working.
Knowing that in these series of workshops, "women newcomers get the education they need to take off." This well-experienced business coach provides education that “you don’t learn in school.” Denise's transition to the third sector has been positive for her. At S.U.C.C.E.S.S she gains more knowledge about the entrepreneurial field. By being part of an accountable team, "we focus on what we do best." This is the importance of working with a responsible team that is in touch to reach their monthly goals and improve the program.
About her experience working at S.U.C.C.E.S.S., Denise mentions the value of being in a workplace where you feel safe and heard. She started working in the middle of the pandemic and signed up for the internal Coffee and Chat with the CEO event, "we felt good about giving our input and worries about the pandemic and stigmas around it."
In the pandemic context, Denise also volunteered at the traditional Bridge to S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Gala, where she had a fulfilled experience volunteering for an event in which despite of COVID "I saw lots of donations in real life, I saw what the company is about."
Five years ago, Tareq started his career at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. as an Employment Counsellor. It’s a special role: “the empathy and passion for helping others is unique,” he says, “because one of the most important aspect of newcomers' life it is not finding any job, but their career job.” Tareq has also developed his career at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. “I’m not the same person,” he says, of the person who started five years ago. “S.UC.C.E.S.S is always keen to help me to develop myself. I I didn’t dream have this progress in my career this soon."
Working at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. has been like working with a big family, according to Tareq. He highlights the camaraderie as a remarkable feature in his team. “I might not know all the employees, but I meet one and I feel that it has been forever,” he says.
The organization has also been accommodating and invested in keeping him. Tareq recalls that when he experienced a personal incident that meant commuting to a Vancouver location office for his work was no longer possible for him, management helped ensure he was relocated.
That’s one of the reasons Tareq advises that if you want to work in a healthy and supportive environment, working at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. is a unique opportunity. “You have paid time off to take your son to his doctor's appointment, so your vacations are vacations to recharge. And on top of it you have the chance to develop yourself and grow.”
For the last 13 years, Outreach Services Manager Massi Moosavi has been collaborating with S.U.C.C.E.S.S. at our Surrey office, providing information at the front desk, supporting the Farsi-speaking community with her language skills and assisting management. Whatever she is doing, Massi’s work has always been driven by meeting people and implementing new programs.
Back in her home country of Iran, Massi was an accountant, however, once she immigrated to Canada she needed local work experience, so she began working in retail. One day, a friend who worked at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. invited her to join the community, and here she is 13 years later working where she “gets paid to learn,” as she says.
She values the opportunity to work with a team changing people’s lives, serving all peoples regardless of their choices, gender, religion or cultural background. “Every day we expand ourselves,” she says, adding it makes her feel proud to work at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. “At the end of the day when I go home, my body might be tired but my mind is free.”
If you’d like to work in a place where your language skills add value to what you do while working with talented colleagues who care about human rights and learning from the community you serve, there is a place for you at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. As Massi says: “from the bottom of my heart, this is true.”
Nuno Jordao made the journey to Canada in 2008 from Portugal, where he had spent ten years as a lawyer and worked for the Azorean government as a manager of finance, planning, and administration. When he arrived in Canada, Nuno was searching for a better work/life balance.
After eight years in Canada, he was looking for a career change and joined a S.U.C.C.E.S.S. program targeting Canadians looking to realign their professional backgrounds. Following the program, Nuno was asked to apply for a position at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. and became a temporary program manager for youth employment in 2017. During the course of that year, Nuno took on multiple roles with the organization. At the end of the year, an HR lead position became available, Nuno decided to apply and was successfully awarded the position. Today, Nuno is a senior HR manager who manages and oversees the function of the Human Resources department.
Having worked in multiple fields, Nuno enjoys working with a non-profit because of the “meaningful sense of accomplishment.” As an immigrant, Nuno enjoys working for a diverse and supportive team and an organization that supports his community. “One of the things I enjoy about working in HR at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. is that we hire for ‘the who’ and not ‘the what.’ I love working S.U.C.C.E.S.S. because I am able to exercise my profession and at the same time contribute to my community.”