Roberto villamar

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Roberto is an Ecuadorian-Italian entrepreneur and strategist transferred to Canada since 2012 to research best practices in Governance, Strategy and Family Enterprise Management, and to develop business and investments opportunities.

Roberto has the role of Chief Strategy & Compliance Officer at COHECO, a related company of Mitsubishi Electric located in Ecuador, so he keeps a frequent travel and a permanent teleworking practice.

Part of his private activities include owning and running a Property Management company in Ecuador, Family Enterprise Advising and becoming a Google Suite Reseller for Canada and SA, since 2014.

With a strong community volunteering orientation, Roberto has been setting in Compass Kitchener City Hall, the Regional Municipal Affairs Committee and the Work Steering Group, both at the KW Chamber of Commerce, all of them for the last 3 years, sharing his perspective as an international trained executive and entrepreneur living in the Waterloo Region.

His Peer to Peer networking activities include KW Chamber of Commerce, Institute of Corporate Directors, ASQ, PMI, and the Family Enterprise Xchange, from where he is obtaining his accreditation as Family Enterprise Advisor.

Roberto will be sharing his experience arriving and living in the Region, how volunteering and networking have been key to improving his sense of belonging, and a different perspective about the potential of contribution of professional immigrants to our Community.


Fauzia mazhar

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Fauzia Mazhar has worked in the local not-for-profit sector in various roles ranging from employment counsellor to program coordinator since she arrived in Canada 17 years ago. Fauzia has a BA in Education and Economics from Pakistan and a BA in Psychology and Masters in Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University.  Her professional portfolio  includes management, program/project planning and implementation, and community development and organizing.  She currently works as the Coordinator of the Family Centre in Kitchener. She teaches Community Development and Outreach at the Conestoga College. Fauzia is a founding member and current chair of the Coalition of Muslim Women of KW.  She also serves as a director on Kitchener and Waterloo Art Gallery's board. Fauzia's passion is to bring people and groups together to build a welcoming, inclusive, safe and vibrant community.  





Brought to you by Silver Level Sponsor Chartered Professional Accountants Ontario

Carmen Jacques, CPA, CGA- Student Recruitment Manager with CPA Ontario

Carmen Jacques is a member of the Recruitment Team with CPA Ontario. Carmen specializes in helping internationally educated professionals navigate the challenges of immigration to succeed in creating a new life and new career with the CPA designation.

Carmen speaks four languages and holds an accounting designation and a bachelor of commerce degree from the University of Mumbai. She moved to Canada from India in 2003 and applies her experience in helping others make their own transition. She enjoys working closely with community associations and immigration agencies to provide the best possible advice with candour and insight.


Enas Vazdekis, MBA Small Business Advisor, Scotiabank

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I have had the privilege of working for Scotiabank for the past 8 years in a variety of roles at several locations. My Scotiabank journey started as a Customer Service Representative, to now my current position as a Small Business Advisor.

It has been an honour to have held numerous positions within the Branch Network over the past few years. This has given me an appreciation and the skills to work in operational effectiveness, client experience, providing advice to Small Businesses and new entrepreneurships. We’ve also enjoyed mentoring several new employees as they begin their career with Scotiabank.

I have always had a passion for personal development evidenced by my commitment to lifelong learning. I hold a bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Arab American University – Palestine, an MBA in International Business Administration from North Park University – Chicago and Investment funds in Canada certificate.

Personally, I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters, my greatest life accomplishments- Saydra and Jovana, along with a great husband  of 10 years. We enjoy spending our time as a family and strive to discover new places along the way.


Geoff Henry, Accountant, sarona asset management

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Geoff has an education and working background in accounting from the UK.  Geoff has lived in the KW region since moving here end of 2014.  After receiving his permanent residency in May 2016, Geoff started looking for work and was astonished how much help and support was available to newcomers to Canada to help integrate into the community and find work.  After 5 months searching Geoff was offered his first job in Canada working as an Accountant at Sarona Asset Management, a small private investment company in Kitchener.  Geoff is still with Sarona and is looking to enhance his career by enrolling on the CPA programme.


Engineering & Technical Professions

Gerald Ford, Supply chain and management consultant


Gerald started his career working for a small electronics manufacturing company and quickly progressed from Buyer at the University of Waterloo to Director of Purchasing at the City of Cambridge. Starting in 1988, Gerald worked as a Demand Planner for IBM Canada where he won the Administrative Achievement Award. In 1993 Gerald left IBM and started Cambridge Solutions. As the President of Cambridge Solutions, Gerald has worked on a variety of projects where Gerald’s talents and skills can be best applied to solving complex challenges. His customers include The Cooperators, Denso Manufacturing, Culliton Mechanical, Open Text, Proveer Signs & Graphics, McMaster University, Electrical Safety Authority and York University to name a few. Gerald has also spent 34 years delivering training and educational programs both at Conestoga College and for the Supply Chain Management Association. 

Gerald has served on a number of Boards including the Supply Chain Management Association of Ontario where he was the President in 1993. He also served on various other Boards including the Human Resources Association of Ontario Grand Valley Chapter, Certified Management Association of Canada Ontario Advocacy, APICS Grand Valley Chapter, Conestoga College Program Advisory Committee Supply Chain, Guelph Chamber of Commerce Workforce Development Committee and Guelph Innovation Network.

Gerald most recently received the Volunteer of the Year Award from the Supply Chain Management Association of Ontario. He lives in Cambridge Ontario and in his spare time, Gerald enjoys coaching girls’ softball, golfing and mentoring.




 Réda Fayek

Réda Fayek held several senior leadership and executive management roles with both private and public technology organizations at various sizes and growth stages including start-ups. Over a 25 year period, Réda helped reinvigorate several technology companies, enhancing the pace of innovation and leading several international launches of award-winning products. He successfully brought more than a dozen innovative products from concept through full commercialization cycles including mass production, and has repeatedly recaptured economic value of sophisticated technical products by re-focusing on competitive advantage and core competencies. Due to his efforts, he attracted international interest culminating in acquisitions by Bio-Rad and Becton Dickinson. He also directed graduate research as an adjunct faculty at the University of Waterloo. Réda has a Ph.D. from the University of Waterloo and Executive MBA from the Ivey School of Business. He is a senior member of IEEE, a volunteer with PEO and a Fellow of Engineers Canada. He is a board member of several non-for-profit organizations and an active youth counselor.


Jong Kim, Executive Project Manager, IBM Canada (retired)

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Jong Kim is a retired Executive Project Manager from IBM Canada who is actively involved in volunteer activities and community services in the local community since his retirement.

Jong started his professional career as a physics teacher in South Korea and moved into Information Technology (IT) field in late 1970s.  Jong started his IT career as a Mainframe Assembler Programmer at Korean Air in South Korea.

After Jong immigrated to Canada in 1981, he worked for RBC Financial Group, Manulife Financial Group, and IBM Canada as a mainframe COBOL programmer, System Analyst, System Designer, Local Area Network (LAN) Administrator, DB2 Database Administrator, as well as Technical Support Manager, Project Manager, Project Director, Assistant Vice President, Senior Project Manager, and Executive Project Manager until he retired in 2010.

Since his retirement, Jong volunteers at local charity organizations, provides guidance to local community groups, helps the next generation new comers to find jobs in Canada, works as a language interpreter/translator for Kitchener Waterloo Multicultural Centre (KWMC), and will soon teach at the Conestoga College to continue his effort to support & guide the next generations.

Jong has an Executive Project Manager certification from IBM, a Project Management Profession (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI), Life Office Management Associate (LOMA) certification from Life Management Institute, and an Information Systems Professional (ISP) designation from Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS).

Jong has a BSc degree in Physics from Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea.



Human Services

Yesenia Torres, Volunteer Engagement Specialist

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Yesenia Torres is a Volunteer Engagement Specialist at Community Support Connections – Meals on Wheels and More (CSC), a local charity that provides a variety of programs and supports to seniors and adults with disabilities, enabling them to live at home with independence and dignity. As a volunteer Engagement Specialist, Yesenia recruits, screens and supports over 700 volunteers. Previously, she worked at Focus for Ethnic Women, an organization dedicated in supporting newcomer and immigrant women. Before that, she worked at Deloitte, in the role of Records Coordinator. Yesenia is a graduate of Wilfred Laurier University, where she completed a double Honours BA in Communication Studies and Global Studies. She has also completed a Business Management Diploma, Human Resources certificate and most recently a Volunteer Management certificate at Conestoga College. This past year, Yesenia was awarded the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce Employee of the Year Award in recognition for her commitment in working with employees, volunteers and the general public.

Yesenia is very passionate about volunteering and giving back to her community. She believes that you get more than what you give. In her spare time, she volunteers for various organizations and causes. Yesenia has lived in Kitchener, since arriving to Canada in 1992.



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Viktoria Webster is the Volunteer Mobilizer at Immigrant Services Guelph-Wellington, an agency that has been committed to excellence in settlement services for 40 years, and has a vital role in their Mobilized, Engaged, Involved (MEI) Program, funded by United Way Guelph-Wellington-Dufferin. MEI services create mutual understanding between newcomers, local organizations and communities; promote voluntarism and create opportunities for new immigrants to volunteer in the community; build networking and communication skills; and experience Canadian workplace culture.

As a believer in volunteering strategically, she helps newcomers, and students, to recognize the symbiotic nature of volunteering, where helping others is part of the motivation for reaching their personal and professional goals.

As a teacher, she is passionate about empowering others through an inspiring and interactive learning experience. Viktoria supports both newcomer and volunteer participants of the 1 on 1 English Conversation Practice Program with communicative activity ideas.

In 2014, she started volunteering at several English Conversation Circles with YMCA Immigrant Services, in Kitchener-Waterloo. For 3 years, she spent more than 600 hours volunteering. She has gained empathy and understands the challenges newcomers face in this multicultural environment.

Viktoria came to Canada as an ITP (Internationally Trained Professional) with a joint Honours B.Ed. in English Language and Literature, and Political Science (comparable level in Ontario) and 4 years of EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teaching experience, in 2011.


Beisan Zubi, Community Relations Manager, Communitech


Beisan is currently the Community Relations Manager at Communitech, where she works to break the bubble between the tech community, local community groups and change-makers. Before moving to Waterloo Region, she lived and worked in Ottawa, most notably working for a couple years in communications for the NDP on Parliament Hill.

Beisan graduated from Concordia University with a Creative Writing and Political Science double major and earned Her Master’s in Communication and Culture from Ryerson University. 


Lourdes Vicente, cASE Manager/Observational Job Shadowing Lead, Care CentrE


LOURDES VICENTE has an educational background in both Practical Nursing and Career and Work Counselling. She has 15+ years’ work experience supporting Internationally Educated Professionals. She worked as a Career Counsellor/Facilitator in several non-profit organizations such as Skills for Change and JVS Toronto. In 2006 she started working as a Case Manager at CARE Center for Internationally Educated Nurses supporting IENs back into practice. Aside from being a full time Case Manager she also facilitates Employment Strategies workshops and coordinates the Observational Job Shadowing program at CARE Centre where she arranges placements for CARE members to job shadow nurses at various workplace settings such as hospitals, long-term care and in community nursing.



Laura Kacur, Senior HR Consultant and and HR Growth Coach, Communitech

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Laura is currently a Senior HR Consultant and and HR Growth Coach at Communitech. 

She has over 25 years of experience building and leading HR teams in technology companies both in Canada and the U.S. In her previous roles as head of HR at three local technology companies, she was responsible for the development and execution all HR programs and initiatives including talent acquisition and management, employee engagement, total compensation and organizational effectiveness. 

Laura holds a Business Degree from Wilfrid Laurier University. 


DasunPRIYA Anuradha, Technical account manager sortable

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Dasun holds an MBA from the Cardiff Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom and is currently a Technical Account Manager with Sortable. Sortable helps publishers to contextualize their user data and dig deeper into their analytics, ultimately helping publishing companies to increase their revenue. Dasun has over 18 years of experience working in different leadership roles in the IT Industry, specifically in the sectors of Engineering, and Marketing and Business Operations. He effectively helps businesses offer high quality products and services by bridging the gaps between business and technology operation requirements.

He recently moved to Kitchener from Sri Lanka three months ago with his family and has smoothly settled into Canada and the KW Region. Dasun possess a lot of experience and knowledge on how to prepare to immigrate to Canada from another country, and how to quickly integrate into Canadian society upon moving to Canada. He also brings valuable knowledge around different strategies that can be used to build professional networks and effectively job search for your first job in Canada.

He is passionate about volunteering and giving back to the community, and he is always happy to share his experience and knowledge on immigrating and settling in Canada.



Agueda Livera, Project Manager at the Regional Municipality of Waterloo


Agueda is a Project Manager at the Information Technology Services at the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. Her professional experience includes several internal and external customer facing roles in cross sector fields, such as in retail automation, manufacturing, IT industry and government. She worked with business process modeling, software development and implementation and project and client portfolio management. Agueda has degrees in Electrical and Software Engineering


Networking Your Transferable Skills

Sandi young, ontario drive and gear Ltd


Sandi Young, CHRL is a highly motivated, 20 years experienced Human Resources professional with strong organizational, analytical, problem solving and people related skills.   Her dynamic presentation style, coaching skills, and leadership performance will provide an energized, interactive workshop.   Her volunteer roles have included Avanti Women, HRPAO Peer Networking Group Chairperson, and Waterloo Region Connector mentor.    As a current employer, she understands the challenges and opportunities that the new Canadians face in the job market .


Nicole stefan, ontario drive and gear ltd



Nicole Stefan is a Human Resources professional with over 5 years of experience working in manufacturing environments. Her focused experience includes local and global recruitment, legislative compliance, employment engagement and the development of Human Resources / H&S policies.  Nicole earned a Combination Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2010 and a Certificate in Human Resources Management from Fanshawe College in 2011


Starting a Small Business in Canada

Marzena rachwal, waterloo region small business centre


Marzena Rachwal emigrated with her family as a child from Poland to Canada in the mid 1980’s.

She studied Social Studies at the University of Waterloo and Human Resource Management at Sheridan College.  With a passion for business and service she proceeded to work for local small businesses and in the financial industry for over 15 years.   With encouragement from friends and family, Marzena started a café and custom cake shop.  With a successful 6 years in business and a passion for business startups, Marzena naturally transitioned into her role as a Business Project Assistant at the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre- focusing on business startups, education and training for entrepreneurs in all industries.

In her free time, Marzena loves to spend time with her family, loves to cook/bake, travel, stay active and volunteer her time as co-chair on school council.

 Her love for community, business, and education is what keeps her passionate on a daily bases.