By Shabana Ansari
Diana Kinimah loves a good challenge. “I am not afraid to try new things and explore all my options, especially when life gets tough and spirals out of control” she says.
In 2011, Diana came to Canada from her native Ghana in the pursuit of a better life for herself and her family. However, she hadn’t anticipated the personal and professional hardships that were to follow.
After the breakdown of her marriage, she suddenly found herself caring for two young children with barely any emotional or financial support from her ex-spouse.
Even though she had a degree in procurement from a Ghanaian university, Diana struggled to find a job.
In order to make herself more visible to Canadian employers, she decided to take a medical office administration course at a local private college.
But her troubles were far from over.
A short time after she finished the course, the college was shut down and her diploma became invalid.
“It took an insane amount of courage to step back from my situation, think about all my options and then try and find solutions that would help me put my life back on track.”
With the intention of making some money and polishing her professional skills, Diana decided to start a day-care service operating out of her house.
“At that time, I didn’t realize it but running my business helped me pick up newer skills in administration, accounting and finance.”
Her tenacity and persistence paid off and Diana decided it was time to look for newer opportunities. “After a few years of working out of my home, I felt ready for a more professional setting.”
However, it wasn’t easy finding a suitable opportunity, and Diana had to often work two jobs to put food on the table and keep a roof over her family’s head.
“Giving up was not an option. Besides, I am always enthused about doing a lot more with my life, so I created a new professional path for myself and decided to find work in the public sector.”
Now an Information Officer with the National Defence, Diana has also worked with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the Treasury Board Secretariat.
She volunteers in her free time, mostly with immigrant and refugee women in need of support.
“Sometimes, just a kind word can work wonders for those facing personal or professional hardships,” says Diana who has spent many happy hours discussing personal grooming at events organized by Immigrant Women Services Ottawa (IWSO).
Currently she is the brand ambassador for Dress for Success, a not-for-profit that helps women prepare for the workplace by providing them not only with professional clothes but also tips and advice on career advancement.
Aspiring for a position in management in the next few years, Diana is learning French and continues to take courses at Carleton University to enrich her professional experience.
“I am fortunate to get some excellent advice from my mentors and other people in my personal and professional network.
“But in the end, it is my own voice that rings truest to me. I go by my intuition and end up doing exactly what feels right to me at that point in time,” says Diana who feels that self-belief, self-care and persistence are the keys to having a happy and successful life.