Born in Egypt to an Indian father and a Czech mother, Gautam Nath has travelled to/lived in over 25 countries. In Canada, he sat on the boards of the Indo Canada Chambers of Commerce, Multicultural Community Interpreter Services, York University’s Internationally-Educated Professionals, United Way Toronto, TRIEC, and Maytree’s Mentorship program. Nath is the founder of Multicultural Marketing Society of Canada and co-chair for the multicultural group of the American Marketing Association’s Toronto chapter. He also launched two portals on Google and LinkedIn to support newcomers and help them to find jobs and settle in Canada. This is an excerpt of his Fall 2017 interview with The Edge.
Within two years of coming to Canada, you won the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award. How did you manage that?
I began to speak at forums, created and joined help groups, and began sharing my knowledge of multicultural marketing with MBA students and corporates. I also started to write in newcomer publications and published a column in Canada’s leading newcomer magazine called ‘Building your Brand’, which ran for over two years.
At the same time, I began building my LinkedIn profile and grew my network base. I literally met one new person every week, sharing my journey, my learnings, and my network with that person while learning from them at the same time.
And finally, when the Top 25 Immigrants Award was in its final stage of public voting, I connected individually with each person in my network, sharing the information and canvassing for their individual vote. It was not a mass email campaign, but a very customized one-on-one outreach. And that worked.
Tell us a little bit about all the organizations you’re associated with, and how you came to choose all these organizations.
Environics Research Group is one of the largest Canadian-owned market research agencies. I was introduced to the president, and we chatted for an hour about my life and experiences with both clients and research agencies, and I was offered a leadership role in their Toronto office.
Two years down the line, the founder of a multicultural communications agency in my network had lunch with me. This resulted in an offer to join his startup agency as a business partner.
And then, four years ago, and again based on an invitation to join her for lunch, the founder of one of Canada’s leading multicultural communications agencies made me an offer I could not refuse. And I’ve been here for the past four very interesting years.
How has volunteer work helped shape your career and build your brand in Canada?
In Canada, you have to learn how to give back; it is a way of life, not a hobby. As a new Canadian, the voluntary roles you play show others what your capabilities are and the level you have the capacity to represent.
For example, in 2010, I was invited by the executive director of Canada’s largest not-for-profit language solutions agency to join their board. I have been volunteering as a board member since then, and today, I have the honour to be the chair of the board, a role occupied by very few Canadians like me. This, and other board-level volunteering roles, indicate the level of visionary thinking that I bring to the table.
Any advice for young professionals and immigrants choosing to make a new life in Canada?
There are two different sets of advice to both groups.
If you are young and have the luxury of time, get involved in a mix of professional and social activities. Take up a Canadian sport and get yourself networked within that world, too.
If you are an older immigrant and have landed here in your relatively later years, focus on your career, as that takes time to establish, and therefore dedicate your volunteering to avenues that are linked to your field of specialization.
And for both, don’t live in your ethnic silos – get out of your comfort zone and learn to live with and love the diversity Canada offers. Give back to the country and get back in equal.
Shruti Ganapathy | Contributing Writer