Name: Stephen Olusegun Akinfemi
Career: Information and Communication Technology
Title: Operations Manager
Country of Origin: Nigeria
Moved to Canada: 2016
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Journey in One Word: Fulfilling
The idea behind “Immigrant of the Month” is to showcase and celebrate ordinary Canadian immigrants who are doing extraordinary things. Those who passionately pursue what they set out to do and go beyond just surviving are our everyday heroes. They deserve to be honored. But beyond that, their stories are meant to inspire other immigrants to move away from their comfort zone and truly live.
Stephen Olusegun Akinfemi is on our honor roll this month of October. Born in the 70s to Nigerian parents, this young man started out early knowing what he wanted in life. He wanted to succeed. He wanted to have access to all that life had to offer. He wanted exposure and a platform that will open doors of opportunity and fulfillment. His home country, Nigeria didn’t seem to have the capacity to give him all of that. That birthed first a desire, and then a dream – to go beyond the shores of Nigeria.
After a failed attempt to move to the United Kingdom for further studies, Akinfemi learned about Canada as an immigrant’s destination of choice and decided to pursue Canada.
But, 15 years was long enough to go after his dream and clinch it.
An experienced immigration lawyer couldn’t help him to appeal CIC’s refusal. He was refused a Permanent Residency on health grounds. For the lawyer, it would be a hard nut to crack. Fortunately, another lawyer who had succeeded on a similar case took up the case. Out of the blues, Akinfemi received his PR and found that he had to leave Nigeria in less than 2 months.
It wasn’t the right time. Akinfemi was on a roll back in Nigeria – he was an accomplished IT expert (a CIO – Chief Information Officer to be precise), working as an expatriate in a West African country and earning in Unites States dollars. He was very comfortable, and his wife was doing great too. Life couldn’t be better, or could it?
The nays were more than the yays. Family and friends were against the move. Why should he live when his career was beyond blossoming? Why should he leave for an uncertain future? As an IT Communications and Information Officer, he was overseeing people, processes, and technologies. He however took up the challenge, came to Canada to perfect some of his documents and went back to Nigeria after just a week. He went back home to prepare for his permanent move which happened after a year. Listen to his episode below:
It has been over 5 years since he came to Canada. Stephen Akinfemi says, “I’d rather endure a bit and be successful than rush into success and fail at it.” Is he fulfilled already? He doesn’t pause before giving his affirmation. “Yes!”, he says. “Not in terms of money. I haven’t earned in the last 5 years what I was earning back home. But in terms of value, opportunities, exposure, and my children’s education, I’d say yes, I have no regrets. I have been able to contribute a lot to my new country.” He believes he is fortunate enough to have been able to reflect and see the bigger picture.
Akinfemi’s major thrust has been volunteering. His first job was as a volunteer. And he has never looked back almost 5 years down the line. Even though he got his first professional role 6 months after landing in a Senior Networking role, he still volunteers. He explains that volunteering gives you an opportunity to understand your environment, interact with people in a more positive way, garner the much-needed Canadian job experience and give back to the society. It also helps an individual to build the right values and character.
Some of his volunteering activities include:
1. Mentor with Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council (CRIEC) – since Jan. 2019.
2. Workshop facilitator – Project Management Institute, Southern Alberta Chapter (PMISAC) – since Sept. 2018
3. Independent mentor to new immigrants (helps them to find their path in Canada) since Jan 2019.
4. Videographer at Centre Street Church, Calgary since June 2016.
5. Technical Consultant and PMO member at the annual Thrive Conference since 2020.
6. TELUS Ambassador and mentor in the new Canadian community – (a volunteer role within TELUS, the program is called MOSAIC) – Since October 2020
The future seems bright for Stephen Akinfemi. Though it has been fulfilling, yet there’s so much more to do. He has moved from the point of seeking to get from Canada, to giving back to Canada. Now, he volunteers his time to coach individuals and provide some mentoring support.
He will be at the THRIVE conference 2.0 on October 23, 2021 to provide some support to those who seek him out. THRIVE conference, themed “Step In and Step Up” is a one-day virtual event that is absolutely FREE. All it takes is to register to get your ticket.
Are you inspired? Or do you have a story to share that you think can inspire the immigrant community? Click here to submit the details here.