The summer student experience at DIVERSEcity includes learning about workplace culture and about the different types of work our staff does to support our clients in their success. This series of staff interviews will provide different glimpses of what life is like at DIVERSEcity. From interviews with members of our executive team to front line staff, we hope our interview series provides an interesting and holistic insight into our agency.
What is your name and role at DIVERSEcity?
Michel Ndiom (pronounced like Dion in Celine Dion, but Niom). I am the Manager of Francophone Services.
How long have you been working at DIVERSEcity?
Since December 19th, 2010. 6 years.
But you weren’t a manager the entire time?
I was a settlement worker for four years, then a manager.
What inspired you to work here?
What inspired me to work here was the desire to find a way to help other immigrants better settle in Canada. I did not intend to stay for long, but over the years my interest grew. There was always something to learn and someone to help.
Can you tell me about how you spend most of your time at work?
Every day is different. The last two days I have been responding to emails but there are days where I spend most of my time meeting with staff. It varies depending on the needs of the calendar. Interacting with my staff is essential to me as I need to know exactly how they feel and how I can help them in a more effective way.
What are your main responsibilities?
I write proposals and I also make sure to hire the right people to implement our contracts. We therefore make sure that every single day, as a team, the contract is being fulfilled.
What advice do you have for clients?
I would tell them that as a settlement worker, it is our job to support whatever decision they make. We provide information so that they will be able to make the right decisions for their lives, because a settlement worker’s initial job is to refer and to provide information. We do not provide workshops for the sake of providing them. We want them to be informed. There’s this mentality that the settlement worker helps you; no – the settlement worker supports you. I am not here to live their lives for them. They have a story to write, I am not here to write it for them. We support them to help make sure their dreams come true.
Knowing what you know now, what advice do you have for someone getting into this line of work?
You must always be willing to learn new things. Information changes and you must be up-to-date in order to give timely and accurate information to your clients. You must be versatile. You cannot focus solely on your own language group, instead you must also learn how other ethnic cultures function and how you can learn from them. Yes you will provide information to others but you are also constantly learning from the environment you are in. The key thing is that you learn every day.
What do you find most enjoyable about your work?
I love seeing the joy in the faces of my staff after they have helped their clients.
What are some of the challenges?
Time management. Schedules are important however they do not always work for everybody. I need to be able to find a way to manage my time between speaking and meeting with my staff and to also attend management meetings. Juggling between the follow-ups of meetings can be difficult. The key thing is prioritization. My priority might not be someone else’s priority, which is challenging.
What is the best thing about working at DIVERSEcity?
Being able to see different world views coming together for the same purpose: to help.
If there was one thing you could tell the general public about refugees or immigrants, what would it be?
They are written letters to read and to be inspired from.
What do you do outside of work?
Spend time with family and friends. We keep the bond between us. For fun, I like making pastries, baking, cooking, and watching TV with family.
What do you like to watch?
I like watching cartoons with my children.
Which country or city would you like to visit?
Sydney or Melbourne.
What books are you currently reading or read last?
A book on disabilities called Disabilities Politics and Theory by A.J. Withers.
What is something that most people who work with you don’t know about you?
I don’t know how to swim.
Can you share something you are proud of or a success you have had at DIVERSEcity?
In the French department, our influence has grown to the point where today we have a team that is well-known in the community as the go-to place for French speaking immigrants in Surrey.