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Talking About Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: Spotlight on Sophia Chea

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Sophia Chea is an Analyst on Toronto Global’s small but mighty Business Insights team. Sophia works to generate the value proposition for the Toronto Region for international companies interested in expanding operations here. She works closely with each company and Toronto Global’s Investment Attraction team, creating customized business cases through data research and analysis.

“For example, if a business is looking to expand here and they want information on the ecosystem, I would be doing custom research to figure out the talent pipeline, average salaries, or any notable opportunities to leverage in the Toronto Region,” said Sophia.

Sophia’s research expands over many different industries and many different types of data, but very often companies are looking to get the inside scoop regarding talent. “I also conduct industry research to understand the strengths and weaknesses we have in the Toronto Region,” she said.

“You’re always learning something new in this role,” said Sophia. “I love the international aspect. I graduated from a Global Management program, so I learned a lot about the decision-making process for companies to operate in foreign countries and it’s great to be able to see it applied here.”

Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Culture

“To me, EDI means the ability to work in an inclusive environment so that the colour of your skin, your age, your gender, or any other social identifiers else doesn’t stop you from achieving your goals,” said Sophia.

Sophia values diversity both personally and professionally, especially due to the international aspect of her field. “It brings a lot of different perspectives into a workplace, being able to work with people of diverse cultures, you get to learn about different ways of doing things. Not only does it bring innovation, but productivity as well,” said Sophia.

“For me as a visible minority, it brings me comfort to know that there are people of colour and women – people who are similar to me – working in the same space,” said Sophia.

Sophia’s experience living and studying in abroad has broadened her perspective and heightened her appreciation for diversity. “In undergrad, I lived in Korea for an exchange program and that’s when culture, diversity and inclusion stuck out to me,” she said. “Being in a new place and bringing so many cultures together through the program – not just Canadian students but German, French, Chinese, and so many more – is what drove my passion for this field of work.”

“That experience showed me that learning and understanding different cultures is actually one of the most important skills a person can have,” said Sophia.

Personal Perspectives

Sophia has been in her role for a year and half and has gone through the unique experience of starting work in a remote workplace and transitioning into a hybrid model – working in the office on select days during the week. Sophia found that a key factor in taking care of her mental wellbeing during this experience was to maintain a schedule that is applicable to work from both home and the office.

“I made it a point to distinguish my personal life from my work life,” said Sophia. The simple act of separating her workspace from personal space is very influential toward her mental wellbeing, whether working in the office or not.

Another important step in establishing mental wellness is physical activity. “After 5 p.m. every day I try to do some sort of workout to destress and unwind from the workday,” said Sophia. “It’s a good way to focus on just me.”

“My biggest takeaway from the pandemic overall is that it’s okay to take things slow and that hustle culture is glamourized,” said Sophia. “Before living abroad, I was so into hustle culture, I had to make sure everything I was doing was always productive and I became very anxious. It wasn’t until I lived abroad that I learned to take things slow.”

“When I came back to Canada it was kind of reverse culture shock, because things were all of a sudden happening so quickly again,” said Sophia. “When Covid-19 hit, it put things back into a slower pace for everyone and I’m starting to realize it’s better that way.”

Traditions and Fun Facts

Every year, Sophia looks forward to her family holiday party with relatives from both her mother and father’s sides. “My dad has like, 10 siblings, so it’s a huge get-together,” Sophia said. “My mom and dad’s families are very close, so we all get together at my house for karaoke and games, so a lot is happening in that space. It’s something we did every year growing up, so it’s very nostalgic,” said Sophia.

Sophia speaks two languages and is learning Korean. “I picked it up while I was in Korea and took a few classes at Seneca College when I came back,” said Sophia. Her mother tongue is Teochew, a Chinese dialect she learned from her family, and she learned English in school.  

What’s Next?

Sophia looks forward to continuing her work toward achieving her goals and learning more about internationality while prioritizing her wellbeing. Her favourite mottos are tied between the following two:

“If you don’t go after what you want then you’ll never have it,” and “It’s always a no if you don’t ask.”

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