Georges Desthain - Portrait of an employee from Central Africa
June 27, 2019
PORTRAIT OF AN EMPLOYEE FROM CENTRAL AFRICA
Name: Georges Desthain
Native of: Congo-Brazzaville
Position at Kezber: Network and Systems Administrator since April 23, 2018
Favourite Quebec expression: Bon matin. They don’t say that where I come from - I’ve adopted the expression.
Favourite Quebec food: Poutine
Globalization has many advantages, among them the fact that Quebec companies can now look beyond the province’s borders to find and recruit workers. For some people, working in another country is a necessity, and finding a job there can be a challenge. A case in point is Georges Desthain, who had to adapt to the realities of the Quebec market to be able to find a job in his field.
Who is Georges Desthain?
My name is Georges Desthain and I’m from Congo-Brazzaville, a country next to the Democratic Republic of Congo. I have been a Network and Systems Administrator at Kezber since April 23, 2018.
What pushed you to change countries?
I had to change countries out of necessity. I love my country, but unfortunately, for political reasons, I decided to leave. Living in Congo-Brazzaville had become uncomfortable and dangerous. Coming to Canada wasn’t easy, either. I would even say that the journey forged my character and made me the man I am today.
What was your professional background before you came to Quebec?
I hold a bachelor’s degree in corporate communication. After earning my degree, I struggled to find a job in my field. This led me to learn computing on my own. My passion for professional development drove me to do IT training in India and South Africa, and to earn certificates in Microsoft Professional and Cisco. Next, I specialized in network systems administration and in virtualization. I started out my career as a level 1 support technician before turning to system and network management. Back home in Congo-Brazzaville, I worked for Airtel Congo, a mobile telephony company, then IBM Congo, followed by IBM Poland.
What made you choose Quebec?
I chose Quebec for the French language. French is the official language in my home country, so I thought it would be easier to integrate into Quebec society, where people speak French, as opposed to an English-speaking province.
What challenges have you faced and what advice could you give?
The first challenge has been to find a job in my field. Often, when newcomers arrive in Quebec, they are told that their dreams are unattainable and that they’ll never be able to work in the field they studied.
My advice can be summed up in the saying, “If a child washes his hands he could eat with kings.” For someone arriving in Quebec, I recommend starting out by learning how things work here. Organizations are a good source of advice. All you need to do is put their recommendations into practice. With a little bit of effort, you can succeed.
I suggest always asking questions when you’re unsure of something. Googling the question helps you speak the same language as your coworkers, which is useful. Finally, I would tell everyone that hard work is the key to achieving anything. You have to love your work and always try to give it your very best.
What steps did you go through to find a job at Kezber?
Personally, when I arrived in Quebec, I didn’t hesitate to sign up with the Collectif (www.cfiq.ca) to do the training I needed. As a newcomer who didn’t know where to begin, I decided to take a workshop called Objectif d’Intégration. The Collectif is an organization that provides newcomers with support and guidance. The goal of the training was to help us integrate and get to know the laws and customs of Canada. Thanks to the work methods I learned, the Collectif helped restore my confidence in myself and gave me the tools I needed to achieve my goals. It has taken a lot of patience and hard work to achieve success.
At the end of the training, I was also paired with a career counsellor who helped me redo my resumé and prepare for interviews. Then, she put me in touch with an organization called Escouade Estrie, and they’re the ones who mentioned Kezber to me; I didn’t hesitate to send in my resumé.
Why Kezber in Magog?
I grew up in a small village where everyone knows everyone. To me, the principles of community are very important. Although I attended several job fairs in Saint-Apollinaire, Trois-Rivières, Shawinigan, Quebec City, and Montreal, I immediately fell in love with Magog. I love the wide-open spaces, and being in close contact with nature helps me better manage my stress. Magog is the home of the lovely Lake Memphremagog and its surrounding mountains. Also, the people in Magog are very friendly. That’s when I understood that I could settle here permanently.
What are the most surprising cultural and professional differences you’ve noticed?
One striking difference is that I met Kezber’s CEO during my first interview at the company. In my home country, the CEO is considered a “king” and wouldn’t usually be seen taking part in an interview.
Another difference is that family and personal fulfilment are core values at Kezber, and this adds to my motivation and makes me feel at home here. These aren’t just nice words on their website; it’s the truth! Previously, I worked for big companies that didn’t take family into account.
What really sets Kezber apart is its focus on open communication. I remember during my first day on the job, I didn’t understand why my coworkers were greeting me with the words Bon matin - an expression I’d never heard, but that I myself have started using!
Could you describe your experience of professional integration in Quebec?
I can’t say it was easy; that wouldn’t do it justice. It’s true that computing uses a universal language, but the concepts and expressions can vary. This gap in the technical language made it a little bit more complicated to integrate at work. Thankfully, Kezber’s philosophy of open dialogue helped me bridge the gap fairly quickly.
So what do you do now, as Network and Network and Systems Administrator?
I maintain clients’ VMware and VDI infrastructure, deploy systems, assist the servers’ many users, and set up and migrate servers and infrastructure.
Does your current job meet your expectations in terms of challenges, working conditions and opportunities for advancement?
I am very comfortable in my job. I have learned a lot and give it my very best, day in, day out. In the future, I see myself managing IT projects. I have a wide knowledge of networks, systems security and virtualization. I plan to leverage all this knowledge to keep moving forward. My biggest dream is to become a systems engineer. And at Kezber, advancement is possible.
What are the next steps for you and your family?
It’s complicated. For now, I’m living alone in Canada. My wife and daughter stayed back in Congo. I talk to my daughter on WhatsApp. The next step for me is to bring my family over to Canada, and I hope that Kezber will be able to support me in this process.
To wrap up, if you had to do it all over again, would you?
Yes, I would... even if, at first, I underestimated how much of a sacrifice it would be to live far away from my family, my wife and my child. Looking back now, I really believe that you have to prepare yourself mentally because the distance can be difficult, and, for some people, it can be too much and lead to failure. All things considered, I would say that since I’ve lived in Quebec, I have felt fulfilled. I bought a car, I got my apartment, I do volunteer work, I have a mentor, and soon I will be a youth mentor myself thanks to Grands Frères et Grandes Sœurs de l’Estrie.
At the time of this writing, Georges Desthain and Kezber have received wonderful news! George has passed the first step of his LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment). We are now going to submit an application for a closed work permit at Kezber to allow Georges to welcome his family to Quebec. We anticipate that the family will be able to join Georges within the next 4 months.
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