An Interview with AREC (Association of Romanian Engineers in Canada) President, Daniel Cheoreanu
Daniel Cheoreanu is the President of AREC (Association of Romanian Engineers in Canada), which is a Non-profit professional organization of voluntary service. AREC represents thousands of Romanian engineers in Canada, promotes their contributions to the success of Canadian economy, and establishes relationship with other technical and professional organizations, creating a forum to contribute to and enrich the community.
Q: First of all, how did the idea and foundation for AREC come about?
A: I came to Canada with my family and with the cultural values from my country of origin, my hopes and my dreams. I asked myself: “Is this the right time to be here? Am I doing the right thing? How can I connect with the right people to advance my career and to make friends?”
Newcomers have many challenges to face when they try to find employment in Canada. The impact of cultural differences in recruiting and the misunderstandings can lead to immigrants being unsuccessful in their job search for reasons unrelated to their ability to perform the job in question. One of the biggest challenges is the fact that the majority of the jobs are filled through internal posting and internal referrals. All these are real issues!
In 2003, a group of Engineers who have lived in Canada for a while got together and began meeting monthly, mainly to network, share information and see how they could help those who were new in Canada. The purpose was to help each other succeed in our careers by understanding cultural differences.
Q: In what ways does AREC network effectively?
A: Effective Networking takes many forms, but for us, it is:
- creating opportunities for AREC members to effectively communicate among themselves (networking)
- better communication of the benefits and value of being an AREC member to current members and potential members
AREC is a network of people; a platform for contacts between students, engineers, the industry and society. The network gives support to students and engineers, opening borders and minds. It aims to help understand cultural differences and develop one’s personal and professional skills. Our goal is to make positive changes in our lives and to support each other through those changes.
Q: Tell us about the process of growing this organization. What were the biggest challenges? and how did you manage to overcome them?
A: It was indeed a slow process in the beginning years. We were all volunteers, coming from a country where, this concept did not exist at that time. But the response of the community was extremely positive and little by little, the organization grew, increasing its membership every year. The PEO licensing seminar is a constant, we do employer visits and presentations about various technical, professional or personal development. Our social events are well known in the community with hundreds of guests participating every year in our cruises, picnics and the annual Gala.
In 2010 we launched the South-Ontario Chapter in the Kitchener-Waterloo area.
As of today, we have over 500 members and over 1200 supporters, people who have been involved with us in different ways over the years.
Q: Most of our readers are entrepreneurs and business owners themselves, so they would like to know what are the most important aspects of starting a business or organization?
A: I would say, because I am one of the founders, that it is very important to have a TEAM which shares the vision and keeps a positive attitude throughout all activities. We learned quickly that AREC needed to offer other services for our members such as networking opportunities, career advice and referrals, access to job postings, mentoring services, and last but not least, great discounted insurance rates through professional group agreements.
This is, in short, who we are and we strongly believe in the power of networking and remain committed to giving back to the community.
Q: In what ways do you reach out and create a relationship with other organizations? How big of a role does networking play in that?
A: Actually, because of our successful activities, in 2009, we were invited to join the Professional Immigrant Networks program (PINs, as we call it) – an initiative of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council. TRIEC recognized the important role diverse networks play in increasing the chances of immigrants getting employed or advancing in their careers. Participating in the PINs program has helped us re-define and re-position the association. We are now part of a network of almost 60 professional immigrant associations and are seen as one of the most active and reputable of the group.
As I mentioned before, my colleagues and I believe in the power of networking! A commonly phrase says: “What you know is important; who you know is even more important.” Furthermore, a more appropriate phrase would be: “It isn’t who you know, but who knows you and knows what you know.” Networking is one of those activities that is always important but only urgent when is too late. That’s why we encourage our members and their friends to participate in our events because we strive to offer meaningful networking opportunities that will benefit them, their families, our profession and our community!
So, AREC offers:
– opportunities to expand your professional network and make new friends!
– learn form others and sharpen your skills set!
– learn about hidden employment opportunities!
– be part of the mentoring program either as a Mentee or a Mentor
I’d like to add a quote I like very much by Jeffrey Gitomer: “Networking is life skills and social skills combined with sales skills.”
Q: How about forming strong and professional relationships with people in your field or potential clients? Does this contribute to your success?
A: I would say that we all are in sales! Selling is a game. Life is a game. Both have their rules… and attitude is everything! The key to success is handling failure. A strong positive attitude is one of the most important traits, not only for a sales professional, but for everyone who wants to build strong relationships and succeed in any undertaking! Not always is easy to keep a positive attitude, but whatever you focus on becomes your reality, believe it or not. AREC’s purpose is to help you make better use of your professional network and help the people you trust in return. Improve your performance with the guidance of peers and mentors who’ll help you stretch and achieve your full potential. Be part of something bigger than yourself. “Let’s Connect and Build Relationships” is one of our objectives.
Speaking of AREC’s successes, an important part of that is because of our sponsors and partners, and I’d like to thank them again for their continuous support. Some of them were with us from the beginning, others have joined us recently, and we at AREC appreciate you all!
Imagine that you have access to a pool of thousands of highly skilled internationally trained engineers from a wide array of expertise, qualified to match your business needs (such as recruitment or tapping in diverse markets)… this is AREC! (www.arec.ca)