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Attitude Key to Managing Diversity

Date Published: February 13, 2020



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“Attitude is everything.”

Jean-Paul Deveau (HonDoc’15) is the CEO of Acadian Seaplants. Last Tuesday, Deveau served on a panel at Saint Mary’s that explored the topic of employees who bring diverse languages and cultures to the workplace.

Deveau responded to an audience member’s question of what skills immigrant or diverse applicants can build to improve their chances of successfully landing a job.  His take: an attitude of openness and tolerance, and a willingness to work hard are the essential ingredients.

Deveau describes his company as very diverse. Acadian Seaplants sells products around the world and having the experience of diverse languages and cultures within the workforce is essential to their success.

The panel comprised five speakers from varying perspectives, including Dr. Malcolm Butler, Saint Mary’s Vice President Academic and Research whose portfolio includes a very diverse workforce of professors and researchers.  Malcolm spoke to the importance of education to learn more about languages and cultures and noted the efforts of Saint Mary’s to promote languages education.

Bassima Jurdak-O’Brien is the General Manager of Arabesque Translation Inc., which offers translation services in more than 100 languages, employing a multilingual cadre of mostly immigrant translators. Bassima’s engaging storytelling revealed how her business model is offering opportunities to both her employees and customers.

Joseph Daniel (BComm’92) is the General Manager of Cresco, a custom home building company responsible for The Parks of West Bedford among other community developments, that again employs 18 trades and professionals of diverse cultures. Daniel pointed out that Halifax is great in terms of connections, and you never know what opportunities you can reach by talking to people.

And Nishka Rajesh (BA’19) brought both her experience as a recent job seeker and as the newly hired coordinator of the Halifax Partnership’s Connector Program which helps new arrivals to Halifax build that important network.

About 90 people braved the weather to attend, the audience was actively engaged, asking questions of the panelists.

Table displays from the Bangladesh Community Association of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Interpreting Services, Canadian Parents for French, ISANS, Université Sainte-Anne CLIC Program, Alliance Française rounded out the evening.

Sobey School of Business joined with the Halifax Languages Consortium to host the Languages and Cultures Business Forum, a panel talk and expo that organizers hope will serve as the foundation for future events.

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