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Melissa Briones is a 2014 graduate of Ashton’s Diploma in Human Resources Management Program.
A native of Manila, Melissa immigrated to Canada in 2011 with her children in search of better professional opportunities for herself and for them. “It was a way for me to obtain what I wanted for my family, which was a better life and a brighter future,” she says.
In the Philippines, Melissa was a lawyer, specializing in Corporate Law with contracts for multimedia conglomerates like ABS-CBN, the Philippines’ leading information and entertainment broadcast company. Despite her breadth of experience, Melissa had trouble finding employment in her field in Canada. “Two months after arriving in Canada I was hired as the Editor-in-Chief of the Philippine Canadian Inquirer, where managing employees and relationships became a big part of my daily routine.”
“I was debating making a career change, and after being encouraged by a friend, I decided to apply for the Lilian To Bursary award.”
The bursaries, offered by Ashton College in partnership with Canadian Immigrant magazine offer full time tuition to newly landed immigrants for a variety of programs and courses. “When I won, I was thinking, ‘Wow, I’m a step closer to my dream’. It really confirmed for me that things will be better for us in Canada.”
After completing the online program in August 2014, Melissa was hired by Organika Health Products Inc., where she currently works as a Legal Officer and Human Resources Manager. “The transition from editor to HR manager was quite a leap; I had to learn the rules and procedures for things that were very different from what I was used to, and I didn’t know what to expect. My Ashton education gave me a really good base for applying my knowledge in the field, and I’m really glad that the company I’m working at recognized my legal background and allowed me to incorporate the legal side of HR into my position.”
As an HR manager, Melissa’s days are filled with tasks related to recruitment, performance management and employee engagement. “No two days are ever the same! I screen candidates, onboard new hires, gather and respond to employee feedback, and develop initiatives to increase employee engagement and loyalty. I am here to serve, contribute and inspire – this is what I want to do, and this is what I get to do at my job. I am so glad my work is in line with my values.”
Melissa is lucky enough to enjoy her co-workers as well as her job, noting “I love the people I work with; it’s a very lively atmosphere, and everyone is friendly. When I think about the company and the industry potential, I am amazed – people are thinking more about their health, so I am glad to see the changes and the need for our company’s services.”
“I’m very happy I got into this industry; and I wouldn’t have been able to do so without the help of Ashton.”
Melissa continues to challenge herself, and is currently in the process of completing the bar exams, set by the national committee for accreditation. “I have completed three exams, and have five to go. I hope others who see my story will realize the power of education, and recognize that it can bring you to your dream career in the most amazing way.”