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Robin Cardozo on Immigration, Mentorship, Volunteering, and Diversity in Canada

By Gelek Badheytsang
Published on WES Global Talent Bridge

Robin Cardozo is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the SickKids Foundation. He arrived in Canada in 1976. The following is a conversation that took place on May 4, 2017.

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Do you have time to volunteer these days?
Yes. I sit on the board of a theatre company and also on the board of the Ontario Nonprofit Network. In addition to that, an area I am volunteering in that means a lot to me has been mentoring young people. I have done that through CivicAction’s DiverseCity Fellows, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and also informal mentoring as well. I think I have something to offer to younger people like you*, and also something to learn in return.

Can you expand on why mentoring is necessary when you are trying to build a career?
I will start off by saying that from the mentor’s point of view, a mentorship connection is very helpful because it helps one to be grounded in the reality of what young people are dealing with today. For me, it broadens my horizons by talking about life stories, experiences, and so on.

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How can one go about identifying and getting a mentor?
There are some formalized programs, like the CivicAction DiverseCity Fellows. Many professional bodies now have mentorship programs—the Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) has one. One of the things that I have always been interested in observing is that people are usually happy to offer advice. The trick is to get to them in a way where they can trust that relationship with you. A cold call probably is not going to get you anywhere.

Apart from mentees, I meet a fair number of people who want to move to the nonprofit sector often mid-career, or from a different sector. I tell them, number one: It is hard to make the immediate jump because the nonprofit sector is just as competitive as any other sector. But it is possible to develop a long-term plan to get there.

The second thing I suggest to them is to get involved in the sector as a volunteer. If you have the opportunity to get on a board, great. Not everyone has that opportunity, so it is often easier to get on the fundraising committee or program committee. Look in places like Volunteer Toronto.

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Find out more about Robin and read the full article here.