Pam Tower – Mentoring and Making Connections

pamPam Tower is the kind of businessperson the immigrant community admires, as she considers it vital to welcome and support immigrants and help them learn how to work here.

An interior designer and proprietor of Tower Interiors, Pam met an ISANS staff member about 15 years ago at a networking event. Since then she has offered her services as a mentor. She describes a meeting where she and five other accomplished entrepreneurs, with different business skills, met with a woman wanting her own landscape architecture business. “We gave her tips on how to start up a business, how to attract business and issues such as offering credit and financial planning.”

Pam says she’s since seen the woman at home shows. “Some are diligent and eager to make things happen for themselves and do their homework. For others, the relationship hasn’t gone very far as their motivation level is different.”

Pam’s ISANS clients work with her one day a week over three months. “We try to expose them to what it is we do here in our business and how we do it.”   They listen in on conversations; they are sent out to job sites to help measure; they attend client meetings to learn how people interact. They also see how she and her staff put together a floor plan or a colour scheme and are asked to pull samples and do research.

Pam stresses that excellent English is vital in her business because, as in many fields, there is a particular vocabulary. “If I’m working for you and you’re building a new house, I need to use descriptive phrases so you can visualize.  That kind of language is hard when you’re learning English.  It’s very specific to our industry, which is different than learning English to be able to live in our community.”

For Pam, working with ISANS clients has been great. “Each one is a different personality. One girl we had last year was very bubbly and open to do anything we asked of her.”  Pam and her colleagues have also discovered the learning is not only one way.  “She shared what it was like in her homeland. We were learning as well.”  Many of the new arrivals tell her about having worked in the Middle East on well-funded projects such as government buildings and lavish and detailed castles. “Wow, I would like to work on a project like that!”

Pam appreciates her connection with ISANS and is committed to helping new immigrants settle into our community. “We need immigrants here but you can’t just bring them and expect them to know how to do business here.” And she admits that someone she helps could actually become a competitor. “I try not to think about that. They’re trying to set up a successful life. They’re coming here to make a better life for themselves and their families, and they better our society and our economic community at the same time.”