Three building-related industry professionals were winners of the 2016 RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards.
The people’s choice award recognizes inspirational immigrants who have come to Canada, achieved success and made a positive difference living here.
A shortlist of finalists were presented on canadianimmigrant.ca, chosen by past Top 25 winners, Canadian Immigrant editorial staff and leaders who work within immigrant or ethnic communities. Voters across Canada choose the final winners. Anyone living in the country could vote.
Chandran Fernando is a business leader who started his own talent recruitment company, Matrix Search Group, in Toronto in 2001. Now, after 15 successful years in business, the specialty real estate talent firm is going strong.
“I started our platform because I saw a need for an increased presence of diversity and inclusion in corporate Canada,” says Fernando, an immigrant of South Asian heritage. “I have been an active voice for the voices that are not heard in corporate Canada, specifically in commercial real estate. I believe and live diversity inclusion in my everyday life.”
Fernando credits his success to his people-centric approach in connecting clients from the real estate industry to candidates, and candidates to clients. His company received the Corporate Citizen of the Year Award from the Real Estate Institute of Canada, Toronto Chapter, in 2015.
Bulgarian-born Ignat Kaneff, chairman and chief executive office of the residential, retail and commercial development company Kaneff Properties Limited arrived in Canada in 1951 with $5 and no education.
His first job was as a labourer for a building company, and he eventually saved enough money to secure a small loan to purchase one building lot for a home of his own. By 1956, that small house evolved into his company, which is still vibrant and boasts more than 300 employees.
“Success in the real estate business, and, I think, in any business, is not possible without being good at communicating with people to understand their needs, wants and wishes,” says the 90-year-old Kaneff. “Relationships are at the core of our success.”
Renan Orquiza is an engineer and environmental activist hailing from the Philippines. After moving to Canada three years ago, he found a job through Career Edge, an Ontario non-profit organization. He now works as an environmental project manager for geo-environmental consulting firm Watters Environmental Group and volunteering at the Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) Mississauga Chapter as a committee member. He also serves as the event ambassador for the Credit Valley Conservation Authority.
“I was able to get my foot in the door within the professional engineering industry here in Ontario quickly,” says the 30-year-old Orquiza, who relicensed as a professional engineer in a year. “It showed me the importance of being involved and connected with various organizations.”
With files from Canadian Immigrant