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Empowering Canada's Newcomers

This U of T Program Teaches Newcomers How to Play to Their Strengths

Sponsored by:
Sponsored by:

Sabina Michael

Associate Director, Rotman Intercultural Skills Lab

Vijay James

Manager, BDO Canada
Business Edge alumnus

The Intercultural Skills Lab equips immigrant professionals with the knowledge, real-world experience, and tools necessary to advance their careers.

At the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, there’s a professional development department that addresses the difficulties of navigating new and diverse work cultures. Over the past 10 years, the Intercultural Skills Lab (ISL) has helped internationally educated professionals navigate and thrive in globalized sectors.


The department challenges and reclaims how international experiences are merited. Participants gain insights into how culture influences communication and behavior, adapting their own styles to effectively collaborate with individuals from diverse backgrounds. This development of intercultural intelligence empowers them to skillfully articulate their value in the Canadian job market.

The ISL programs include Business Edge Finance, which lays out a path to financial leadership roles by focusing on areas like personal brand development, upskilling, and current trends. Business Edge Change Management is another bridging program that helps professionals transition into leadership roles and become agents for change. There are also the Career Shift Supply Chain Management and Career Shift Tech Sales programs, which help workers upskill and transition into new industries. Plus, The Intercultural Leader program helps managers of diverse teams create and implement strategies to bolster a successful working environment. 

Through the Ontario Bridge Training Program, the department can offer courses at a subsidized rate, as well as bursaries. All fall 2024 applications are now officially open for these programs.

Vijay James, a manager at BDO Canada and Business Edge alumnus, explains how the ISL impacted his career’s trajectory.

Why did you decide to apply for this program?

When I came to Canada, I was confident in my high-level education and career experience, but I struggled for at least three years. I faced employment barriers, lots of rejection, and few career advancement opportunities. I decided to apply to the ISL because I needed a structural roadmap and a change in mindset to advance my career.

What do you do differently as a result of the program?

What I learned is so deeply integrated into my practice and who I am today. I recognize cues, play to my strengths, and see everything as an opportunity for connection and growth. Essentially, I was taught the unspoken codes of thinking, communication, and behaviour that happen within a workplace, and it completely changed how I operate.

What would you say to someone who’s considering applying for an ISL program?

I would say that this program will be a life-changing experience. It’s going to provide you with building blocks that you never knew existed. It’s going to give you lots of “aha” moments. You need to be unique and learn how to promote yourself, but you also need to know how to effectively communicate with others. You’ll learn how to handle any situation and grow a peer support network. The tools and information gained through the ISL set you up for success and will serve you for the rest of your career.

Register for an info session to either Business Edge or Career Shift.

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