A Volunteer Steals the Show at the BC Immigrant Professionals Conference

Hicham Zinalabdin, once a client of MOSAIC’s Workplace Connections Mentoring Program, went through all the challenges that internationally trained professionals face when they move their careers to Canada, and found a unique way to integrate into his new home, photography.A highly experienced Harvard educated engineer, project manager, and business analyst, Hicham said, “Only through integration into Canadian society would I find true success, volunteering helped me achieve this.” Though never losing sight of his ultimate goal of returning to his field, photography became a medium of integration for Hicham in Canada.Now, employed full time as a marketing manager for one of the most successful Canadian companies, Hicham continues to offer his photography services, and volunteered his time at the BC Immigrant Professionals Conference to capture headshots for the 500 newcomer delegates for their LinkedIn or other social media profiles. Word quickly spread, at the MOSAIC and ISSofBC co-sponsored event, about the free headshots, and the lines began to grow in the room where Hicham had his professional quality equipment set up.“I think he’s in trouble,” said one volunteer, as the lineup grew to about 30 people, “he will need to move faster if he is going to fit everyone in.”The story from here is one of passion, compassion and connections, for Hicham never rushed a shot, and made sure every delegate walked away with the perfect picture. “Tell me about your kids,” asked Hicham, to insight an expression or smile, click. “Tilt your head to one side, right there, perfect,” click.“For some it takes 30 shots, others just a couple to connect. This is what photography is all about”, said Hicham, almost unaware of the throngs of people waiting for their shots, with delegates now willing to miss conference sessions they had signed up for weeks in advance. Conference organizers often had to usher in headshot hopefuls into workshops and many were seen running late to presentations, not wanting to lose their spot with the patient photographer.The BCIPC keynote speaker Iman Biock Aghay stated in his inspiring address that “it is not how many people you know, but who knows you that matters.” On Saturday, March 21, Hicham Zinalabdin, took the picture of almost 150 delegates, presenters, conference staff, and other volunteers. Hicham may not remember them all, but no one will forget him.