Murilo Torres receives Welcoming Ottawa Week Ambassador recognition

Jim Watson with Murilo and Karla Torres and family.

(PHOTO: Mayor Jim Watson with Murilo and Karla Torres and their family.)

(Editor’s note: Congratulations to Stittsville resident Murilo Torres, who this morning received a 2017 Welcoming Ottawa Week Ambassador Award.  I met him two years ago and was blown away by his energy, kindness, and drive to help his fellow citizens. You’ve probably read about Murilo and his wife Karla before on StittsvilleCentral.ca — most recently in stories about turtles and the blessing of a motorcycle. I’m honoured to count them as a friends and we are very lucky to have their family in Stittsville. -GG.)

LISTEN: CBC Ottawa interview with Murilo Torres and Sam Safari

Welcoming Ottawa Week is an annual festival that celebrates the contributions of all residents (old and new) in making our city a diverse and welcoming community. The WOW Ambassador award, now in its fourth year, recognizes Ottawa residents who go the extra mile to help newcomers feel at home in our city. Each Ambassador is nominated by an immigrant for his or her ability to exemplify important welcoming qualities, including respect, intercultural bridging and generosity of spirit.
Torres was nominated by Meysam Safari, who submitted a testimonial of how Torres’ act of kindness has impacted his integration in our community.  Here’s the story that Safari shared.

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Meysam (Sam) Safari (right) and Murilo Torres
Meysam (Sam) Safari (right) and Murilo Torres. Photo via Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership (OLIP)

Some people believe in fate and for two Ottawa men – Meysam Safari and Murilo Torres – that fate came in the form of an Uber ride on a cold December evening.

Meysam – more commonly called Sam – had immigrated to Canada from Iran with his spouse and infant son three months before.  After living and studying in Malaysia for a decade, his English was very good and he was in search of a new home for his family. “An Iranian friend who lives in Ottawa encouraged me to move here as it would be a great place for a young family and more affordable than larger Canadian cities,” explained Sam.

Like many newcomers, Sam found himself driving Uber to get by until he found a job in his field. As he picked up Murilo one day after work, they began with the usual small talk, but within a few minutes, realizing they had so much in common and the conversation had become serious, pulled the car over to the side of the road.

This chance meeting would set the gears in motion towards an amazing connection. Murilo, who rarely take Uber rides, told Sam that he just had to help him find a job. The energetic, talkative, and outgoing Murilo simply remarked:  “How can we make this happen?”

Murilo was accustomed to hearing the stories of other immigrants, as he was working for In-TAC, a company specializing in finding IT sector jobs for newcomers. Most importantly, he had been there himself, looking for a job in his field for four years. He knew that he could help his new friend to succeed and avoid some of the struggles and pitfalls he remembered from his journey.

Close to four years ago, Murilo had moved from Brazil with his spouse and two young children, because he too had heard that Ottawa is the best city to raise a family. “It was tough, we started our life from scratch, with no family, no friends, and only a bit of savings,” said Murilo. “I took a six-month landscaping job, then worked in sales at Rogers for two years.” Eventually a passion in helping people stared as a volunteer stint had turned into a full-time job at in-TAC.

When Sam returned home he told his wife, “Today I either met a crazy guy or a life changing guy, which one I’m not yet sure.” Accustomed to the silence of many of his Uber passengers, he still couldn’t believe that this stranger truly wanted to help.

And help Murilo did with head strong enthusiasm and tenacity. Although Sam had arrived just before Christmas, which doesn’t tend to be good time for job seekers, he had great skills, with PHD and had taught finance at the university level and was very employable. “I promised Sam I would find him a job in three months,” said Murilo. “It became my personal mission and I wanted Sam to have it easier than me.”

They communicated by phone, email and met occasionally. Murilo began referring Sam as a job prospect to selective members of his broad professional network.

“What Murilo has done for me is over and above what you would expect from a stranger,” added Sam. “He is a true ambassador who has helped me with incredible passion and kindness.”

Murilo knows what it feels like to feel like you’re reaching a dead end. “When I arrived in Ottawa, I looked everywhere for a job,” explained Murilo. “I contact everyone I knew in the Brazilian community. It seemed like everyone was so busy. Sometimes you just become a number and it’s hard to figure the simplest things out, like the process to get a driver’s license, which can really help with employment.”

In Murilo’s line of work, there are dozens of Sams who he doesn’t want to become a number or fail. He teaches them the importance of networking and prides himself in not just connect with thousands of people on LinkedIn, but how to create a trust relationship with then. He builds their confidence. “It’s important for newcomers who are professional not to sell themselves short,” said Murilo. “I see many of them working in fast food or driving Uber like Sam and unfortunately some don’t move on to reach their full capacity.”

Sam did work in construction for a bit, and after a few interviews, and Murilo‘s coaching he found a treasured job in finance, all within three months of that life changing Uber drive. Amazingly, Murilo’s promise was kept.

To help even more the community and the Ottawa local business finding the right talent Murilo just embarked on a new journey with Keynote Group. “So now I’ll be able to help everyone, not only newcomers, not only IT guys. Because find the right talent is crucial for any business.” said Murilo.

 


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