HSSE Specialist’s Persistence Leads to Career Success in Canada

MelanieHealth, Safety, Security, and Environment (HSSE) Specialist Melanie Lim is not the kind of person to just sit around. “I’ve always been the adventurous type,” she says with a laugh. So, after completing a Biology degree in the Philippines, her desire for adventure led her to a career in HSSE around the world. Working in places such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Papua New Guinea, she ended up gaining a total of 8 years of HSSE experience in construction and Oil and Gas before arriving in Calgary in March of 2016. When she started looking for a job in her field, however, she found her lack of both Canadian experience and the Canadian HSSE credential was seriously hurting her career prospects. Landing in the middle of one of the worst recessions in Calgary’s history made things even more challenging. And, knowing absolutely no-one in her new community, it was difficult for her to meet people in her profession.

Being the highly driven person that she is, Melanie eventually found jobs in the food services sector at McDonaldand Calgary’s iconic Saddledome. While this helped her pay the bills, she was determined to put her 8 years of HSSE experience to use.  She knew that to be competitive in such a tight labour marketshe would need to upgrade her credentials.

Through her research, Melanie discovered a Health and Safety Administrator course through the Alberta Construction Safety Association. Using her own funds to pay for the course, she rapidly completed it in her limited downtime, but decided she needed something a step higher. She discovered the Canadian Registered Safety Professional designation (CRSP), and realized that the University of Calgary offered a certificate program that would meet the educational component of the designation. However, the tuition was more than she could afford on her current salary, and another job was not realistic due to her already busy schedule. Melanie’s landlord (an immigrant, herself) encouraged her to visit one of Calgary’s settlement agencies to see what kind of resources might be available to her. After visiting the Centre for Newcomers to speak with an employment consultant, Melanie found an IAF brochure and realized a loan from IAF would be the perfect fit for her.  

Within a week of applying, Melanie was approved for an IAF loan and started the certificate program at U of C in April of 2016. Continuing to work in the food industry while taking her courses, she kept applying for jobs and eventually managed to land an interview at Predator Drilling in Red Deer. The knowledge gained through the U of C certificate helped enhance her extensive work experience, and ultimately she succeeded in the interview. In May of 2017, a year after landing in Canada, she was offered a position as an HSSE Administrator, which she happily accepted.

“I have two more courses to complete before I can get the CRSP designation, but I am very glad to be working in my professional field. I would recommend IAF to any new immigrants.”  

As in Melanie’s case, new immigrants to Canada bring a wealth of experience from around the world when they arrive in the labour market. However, barriers to credentialization can often prevent them from meeting their full potential, which is a loss to both the new immigrant and to Canada, itself. IAF is proud to support skilled immigrants in achieving their professional goals in Canada.  


Every year, IAF helps hundreds of immigrants by providing loans to help them pay for the licensing or training they need to work in their field in Canada. Now more than ever Canada’s newcomers need our help. Please consider a donation to IAF today.