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Dyslexia, Diversity, and Professional Development: My Brazilian-Canadian Journey with PMI Manitoba

Greetings, PMI Manitoba Community,

 

My journey from being a dyslexic kid playing in the vibrant streets of Brazil to the boardrooms and lecture halls of North America has been transformative. It has been highlighted by challenges, growth, and a relentless pursuit of personal discovery, with a focus on empathy toward others and self-understanding. As an international student and a proud immigrant, the robust Project Management Community we have built in Manitoba has been invaluable to my journey.


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Together, we are more than just professionals; we are architects of change, collectively reshaping the world with each project we undertake. My nine-year journey in Canada, which I now proudly call home, has been one of my most significant projects.

During this time, I've successfully navigated various milestones such as the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP), obtaining my work permit, securing my first job in this new land, and ultimately, achieving Canadian citizenship. These experiences were not just bureaucratic steps but pivotal moments of adaptation and integration into a new culture.

In the span of these nine years in Canada, with eight of them enriched by my association with PMI Manitoba, I've experienced profound growth and integration.

The support from PMI Manitoba, along with the University of Winnipeg's Professional, Applied, and Continued Education (PACE) program, has been instrumental in my journey. They have aided me in integrating into the welcoming Canadian community, attaining citizenship, and steering my professional career. This journey highlights the crucial role of collaborative support and community in fostering personal and professional development.

It was in Winnipeg that I learned the true meaning of acceptance, a testament to Canada’s ethos: Canadians are born all over the world; some just take a bit longer to find their way home.

If I had known earlier how welcoming Canada is, and that institutions like the University of Winnipeg offer accommodations for students with dyslexia, including extra time for exams, I would have shared about my dyslexia sooner. To those who are dyslexic and reading this, I want to say:

Consider your dyslexia as a superpower. While it might mean you don't read or write as quickly and effectively as others (although with great effort, you certainly can), that's not the most important point. The real strength lies in your creativity and ability to think differently. These are powers you can harness to your advantage. Understanding more about yourself and embracing your unique abilities is a crucial step in turning challenges into opportunities for innovation and success.

Throughout my journey—from Information Technology (IT) Systems Analyst to steering large-scale IT projects in the healthcare sector, to my current role as Director, Project Portfolio & Growth—I've learned that change is the only constant. This belief informs the PMI Manitoba chapter's commitment to us, the valued current and future PMI members. As the needs of the industry transform, PMI Manitoba and other PMI chapters will be there, championing project management professionals worldwide by adapting to change, overcoming adversity and connecting people like us.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a profound learning experience for PMI Manitoba. It has shown us that adversity is often a catalyst for innovation. By embracing a virtual landscape and adopting a remote-first approach for our Chapter, we have successfully revitalized our mission, vision, and values. It's truly inspiring to see our dedicated members and loyal sponsors continually move forward despite unprecedented challenges. 

Drawing from my experience in leading digital transformations for portfolios worth $100M, I can vouch for the transformative power of adaptability to change. Embracing diversity and different mindsets has proven that together, we are not just strong, but better. Together, we can overcome any obstacle and think creatively. 

My journey with dyslexia, which has necessitated learning in different ways, has uniquely equipped me to work effectively with multicultural teams under tight deadlines while fostering and leveraging each other's strengths.

Reflecting on my path toward Canadian citizenship, I vividly recall the pivotal role played by the supportive community at PMI Manitoba. It feels like it was just yesterday when I had my first coffee chat with Juan Saldivar, the audacious and empathetic President of PMI Manitoba, in downtown Winnipeg.

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That meeting marked the beginning of an extraordinary phase in my life, opening doors to a plethora of growth opportunities within the PMI Manitoba chapter and beyond right here in Canada. Starting from my initial PMI Manitoba role as Associate Governance Director, I have progressed to my current positions as President-Elect and VP of Operations. This journey has taught me that the best way to fully leverage one's membership is through active volunteering within the chapter, aspiring for board positions, and embracing the rich learning experiences that come from collaborative growth and shared knowledge.

Juan's mentorship, coupled with the collaborative spirit of our members at PMI Manitoba, has solidified my belief in our collective strength. As I step into my new role as the PMI Manitoba President in 2024, I bring with me invaluable leadership lessons gleaned from managing dynamic delivery teams. My dedication to aligning organizational strategies with overarching visions, a focus of my previous roles, remains a guiding principle.

"Together, we are more than just professionals; we are architects of change, collectively reshaping the world with each project we undertake"

AI has emerged as a forefront power for PMI Global, and I am eagerly envisioning a 2024 where we will embrace this change to improve the world around us. As an AI enthusiast, I am deeply passionate about the transformative power such changes bring. This significant shift in technology and approach is bound to create a multitude of opportunities and challenges. It's imperative that we come together, pooling our collective skills and knowledge, to make the most of this exciting transition. Our collaborative efforts will be vital in harnessing the potential of AI to its fullest, ensuring that it continues to serve as a positive force in our professional landscape.

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Each one of us is an architect of our own success, a feat attainable only by actively putting ourselves out there, experimenting with different opportunities, and learning from experienced leaders like Juan. I have been fortunate enough to leverage my diverse experiences, which include lecturing at the University of Winnipeg and speaking at various PMI chapters across North America. These experiences have profoundly underscored the value of knowledge-sharing and mentorship in fostering professional development.

"As the needs of the industry transform, PMI Manitoba and other PMI chapters will be there, championing project management professionals worldwide"

As we continue on this journey together, let's remain committed to championing these key pillars of growth. By offering mutual support and nurturing our shared passion for the profession, we create a robust community. Our collective strength emerges not merely from our individual expertise, but from the support and inspiration we draw from each other.

As I reflect on my experiences and lessons learned, here are some essential takeaways for both current and future PMI Manitoba members: