Excerpt from “Learning Management from the Most Unlikely” by Maria Santos-Greaves in DISRUPT 2.0. Filipina Women: Leading without a Doubt.
A Newbie in Canada: Facing My Self-Worth
You can say it was a fluke, a God-orchestrated fluke. Although I had my passport with me, I really was just accompanying my parents to the Canadian embassy in Manila. My parents were applying for a visa to visit my sister in Vancouver. Right there and then on the spot, without any other documentation, I told my parents after they got their visas that I would try to get one. This was before 9/11. And to my amazement, I got my stamp, flew to Canada, and found a new destiny.
With liberal immigration policies, I became an immigrant in the land of maple syrup, freezing weather, and with a preference for British English spelling. Armed with a Pharmacy degree from Centro Escolar University in Manila, and as a licensed Audiometrist in the Philippines, I was eager to work and use my skills and abilities. Little did I realize, just as many other immigrants would surprisingly find out, that in Canada, a degree obtained outside Canada is viewed as under par compared to their degrees. It is really perplexing considering their own school graduates make as many serious mistakes as graduates of schools elsewhere. And in my observation non-Canadian school degree holders are very qualified if not superior to those who finished their education in Canada.
But earn I must, so I started working at a Dollar Store, then sold Registered Education Savings Plans of Canada, and then worked at a Call Center for three years, way before most Call Centers migrated to the Philippines and India. It was at this time I met my ex-husband. But this is another story.
Later I became an audiometric technician at Fraser Health and eventually landed as a receptionist in various hearing clinics. Hearing clinics prefer to hire front-desk personnel who can do multiple tasks. That was when I thought of starting my own clinic not only for financial security but also because of my personal desire to provide compassionate and complete quality care to those longing to hear better. I saw how profit-driven some clinics were and I resolved that if I had my own, the humanity would be just as relevant as profit.
More than a decade later, I have grown my company from one to three clinics. My business success was recognized when I was honored as one of Canada’s Top 25 Immigrants in 2015. This is a peoples’ choice award that recognizes inspirational immigrants to Canada, who have achieved success and made a positive difference in Canada. The award is an acknowledgement by the Canadian public of the need for positive role models who will inspire and motivate other immigrants, as well as other Canadians.
Not Quite “Finally”
It may sound as a business strategy — our clinics giving back to the community through free hearing testing via our company’s mobile hearing clinic van. We drive our hearing clinic vans all over the Lower Mainland, and provide information lectures at a number of community activities. It is a business strategy. But I do not lose sight of the fact that with marketing we must blend humanity, imparting warmth as we genuinely care for others and their hearing needs.
Owning and managing a business is a composite of vignettes — a dynamic osmosis of learning, gaining competencies, and finding inspiration from the most unlikely and informal sources. Yet when you think of it, it does make sense that a mom, a dad, a friend, a husband or an ex, and a child can train us to be better leaders. Actually, I think everyone can be a leader. The world teaches us the paragon of leadership is someone who commands, who stands six feet tall literally or figuratively. Yet, I am only 4 four feet and 10 inches. But paragons are paradigms waiting to be challenged and subject to change. My advice to you: Go for it!
President, Surrey Hearing Care Inc.
FWN Board Member
Global FWN 100 ™ 2015
Entrepreneur, Leader, Motivator
Maria Santos-Greaves decided to start her own hearing clinic in Canada, in order to provide compassionate and quality care to those needing to hear better. A major motivation: she had become hearing-impaired due to a side-effect of a medication. With a strong determination to succeed, Maria Santos-Greaves built and nurtured Surrey Hearing Care Inc. Because of her efforts, many people of various age and ethnic groups can now hear better in Greater Vancouver. Through the years, Maria has used the company mobile hearing van to provide free hearing tests to the members of the public who need these services. Maria is active with the Canadian Medical Mission Society and contributes her time, expertise, and resources in helping those with no access to health care in the Philippines. For her tireless efforts to help and give back to the community, she was voted across Canada as one of the Top 25 Immigrants in 2015.”I grew up a Filipina in the Philippines. My heart and soul will never forget my roots, my beloved home country that molded me to become the woman I am today; an entrepreneur in my adopted and appreciated new homeland of Canada.”