Cross-Cultural Communication and Diversity Strategist

Tina Varughese

Communication. DEI. Leadership. Work-Life Balance.

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Tina Varughese

Speaker Bio

An Indo-Canadian daughter of first generation parents, Varughese says her cultural background allows her to find “the best of both worlds” and shed light, knowledge, and, most importantly, universal humour into the changing workplace. Her highly entertaining, interactive, and practical keynotes leave attendees inspired to think, behave, act, and communicate with intention.

For fifteen years Varughese worked with immigrants in her roles with the Province of Alberta’s immigration office. She also ran her own successful relocation and settlement firm. Varughese draws from her experiences as an entrepreneur, mother, daughter, wife, sister, and friend when delivering keynotes on diversity and inclusion — topics that resonate with her both professionally and personally.

Varughese has been named one of “Canada’s Top 10 Notable Speakers” by Ignite Magazine for her ability to break down barriers and create a comfortable, inclusive, and fun space for attendees. She was the face of diversity, literally, having been chosen to participate in Dove’s campaign for Real Beauty, representing beauty in diversity.

The past-president of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (Calgary), Varughese is a contributing writer for the Human Resource Institute of Alberta’s Network magazine, Calgary Real Estate News, and Home to Home magazine. She was also profiled in Alberta’s Venture Magazine.

Tina Varughese Topics
50 Shades of Beige: Communicate with the Cross-Cultural Advantage.
Just Be(longing): Authenticity, Belonging, and Connection at Work.
Be VISIBLE at Work.
Better Together in the Changing Workplace.
The Human Side of Unconscious Bias.
Inclusive Leadership: From Silos to Solutions.
Thriving Through Uncertainty: Where Communication, Connection, and Compassion Intersect.
Ctrl-Alt-Del: Give the (Re)Boot to Work-Life Balance.
Recruiting and Retaining Foreign Workers for Success and Sustainability.

Successful organizations understand that being able to communicate cross-culturally in the workplace leads to enhanced productivity, performance and employee engagement. Managing diversity drives profitability, leads to innovation and promotes an inspiring workplace culture.

Everybody can benefit from communicating more effectively, however, when 20% of Canada’s population is foreign-born (and much higher in urban centres), communicating with the cross-cultural advantage is arguably one of the most important types of communication to understand and benefit from in the 21st century. Any organization with a culturally-diverse client base or increasingly multicultural workforce would benefit greatly from this topic.

What Attendees Will Learn:

– Cultural differences in communication: Indirect vs. direct speaking styles

– Individualistic and collective cultures: How values change the way we communicate

– Effective day-to-day communication when English is a second language

– Non-verbal communication: Why the “unspoken” word is the most important of all

– How global companies lose millions in revenue due to a lack of understanding of cultural differences

We’ve all felt that sinking feeling of not quite belonging. Altering ourselves to fit a certain mold for acceptance rather than being able to embrace our authenticity. When everyone is seen, heard, and acknowledged authentically, intentionally, and consciously, workplaces promote a sense of belonging rather than a longing to belong. Is it easy? No. Can it be done? Yes, but it’s a continuous journey, not a destination. Ultimately, to belong means to be seen. If we cannot change the way we look, we need to change the way we see.

Key takeaways:

– How to have healthy dialogue, discussion, and debate at the workplace.

– How biased beliefs affect critical outcomes.

– Strength in vulnerability.

– Longing to belong: Small actions, large impact.

– Laughter at work: Time theft or productivity metric?

Everybody should be seen, heard and acknowledged at the workplace. However, how do we accomplish this when we don’t know how to elevate ourselves at work? BIPOC understand that being able to communicate effectively in the workplace leads to potential advancement, enhanced productivity, optimal performance and employee engagement. In fact, allies, advocates, and accomplices of BIPOC also know how important representation at all levels within an organization truly is.

Successful organizations understand managing diversity drives profitability, leads to innovation and promotes an inspiring workplace culture.

Key takeaways:

– Individualistic and collective cultures: How values change the way we communicate

– Cultural differences in communication: Indirect vs. direct speaking styles

– Effective day-to-day communication when English is a second language

– Non-verbal communication: Why the “unspoken” word is the most important of all

– Why networking in Canada feels ‘foreign’ and strategies to ensure it’s more effective

– Practical and tactical strategies to empower BIPOC team members to become more visible at work

– Why diversity, equity and inclusion should matter to the sustainability of any organization

– Why global companies lose millions in revenue due to a lack of understanding of cultural differences

Successful leaders understand today’s increasingly multigenerational, multicultural, and multifaceted workforce brings both opportunities and challenges if not managed effectively. To create trust, collaboration, and creative work environments, inclusive leaders need to effectively communicate, understand, and listen to their fellow employees. Everybody wants to be seen, wants to be heard, and wants to be acknowledged. Learning how to communicate and cooperate in the workplace leads to a healthier, happier, motivating, and inspiring workplace where everybody benefits.

Target audience:
Leaders, managers, skilled professionals, or anybody that works in a multigenerational, multicultural, and multifaceted workplace.

Key takeaways:

– Are you generationally “savvy”?

– Does your leadership style reflect “gen zen”?

– Play nice in the sandbox — team building through collaboration and understanding.

– Empowering introverts in the workplace.

– Individualistic and collectivist cultures: how values change the way we communicate.

– What time is it? The difference between monochromic and polychromic cultures and why it matters to the workplace.

First impressions, positive or negative, are made in seven seconds or less. We all make quick assessments of others without even realizing it. We are not born with bias. Biases are formed by past situations, experiences, background and culture.

Unconscious biases typically exist towards gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability (both physical and mental), and weight. Most of us will say “I see people for who they are” but do we?

Unconscious biases affect and impact decision making both professionally and personally with real impact. Recognizing, managing and mitigating unconscious bias promotes diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion drives innovation, increases productivity, and stimulates creativity while promoting a healthy, happy, engaging workplace culture.

What Attendees Will Learn:

– The Neuroscience behind Unconscious Bias (“No blame, no shame”)

– Managing and Mitigating Unconscious Bias in Recruitment, Retention and Employee Engagement

– Breaking Bias – Strategies for Gender, Maternal, Affinity and Ageism

– Sesame Street 2.0 – One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong… or does it?

– How Diversity Drives Innovation, Creativity and Productivity

– Why Creating a Culture of Inclusion affects Positivity, Profits and Purpose

Creating a great organization isn’t just about breaking down cultural barriers. It’s about building a workplace where everyone works towards a common purpose and feels included despite title, rank or position. Successful leaders understand people do not leave jobs. People leave people. Today’s successful leaders believe not only in investing in themselves, but encouraging others to grow, to learn and to develop in order to build inclusivity and trustbreakdown silos, foster employee engagement, encourage open lines of communication, promote creativity and create a healthy, happy and inspiring workplace.

What Attendees Will Learn:

– Breaking down silos: How to create respectful, communicative, inclusive and collaborative teams

– Delivering constructive, influential, inclusive and solution-based feedback

– Death by meeting: Five key steps to inclusive and effective meetings

– Inclusive personal and organizational purpose: How recognizing others’ contributions gives you a stronger sense of purpose

– Negative Nellie and Nasty Ned: How to actively listen, include and empathize to change negative behaviors at work

– The importance of stress management for leaders

With the onset and ongoing turbulence of COVID-19, organizations were forced to pivot, adapt, and plunge into uncharted waters while facing overwhelming uncertainty. Despite title, rank, or position we are all leaders at work and at home and have the capacity to impact, influence, and inspire others through intentional actions. To put people first effective communication, collaboration, empathy, inclusion, and understanding is imperative.

Employees are becoming increasingly demotivated and disengaged coupled with experiencing a lack of work-life balance. Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and addiction are on the rise hence it is integral to lead with compassion, transparency, integrity, and most of all resiliency as we stand together apart. Additionally, with remote work companies need to lead inclusively where they realize diversity reflects who’s on the team, yet inclusion reflects who gets to play. Great organizations recognize operating in silos create cultural barriers. Creating a sense of belonging promotes healthier, happier, inclusive, and innovative workplaces.

Key takeaways:

– How to actively listen, empathize, and empower others towards a positive paradigm.

– Retraining the brain for positivity for optimal work-life blend.

– Balanced boundaries: You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep others warm.

– Psychological safety: The key to diversity, inclusion, and creating a sense of belonging at the workplace.

– Cultivate inclusion at virtual and in-person meetings.

– The power of surrendering to circumstance: Why letting go strengthens resilience.

Only 23% of working Canadians are highly satisfied with life. In fact, one-third of Canadians feel they have more work to do than time permits. Work-life balance is not a gender issue. Men have the same issues balancing career and family as women do. With technological advances coupled with more women entering the workforce due to economic pressures, work-life balance can seem evasive and unobtainable. But with essential tools, tips, and strategies, employees can minimize stress, maximize efficiency, improve productivity, and boost positivity both at work and at home. Increased work-life balance leads to lower employee absenteeism and turnover rates and higher levels of employee engagement.

Target audience:
Anyone struggling to manage their stress and achieve a healthier work-life balance.

Key takeaways:

– 168 hours = 168 hours: Why more time does not mean more balance.

– Five key stress busters that are essential for a healthier, happier, and more balanced life.

– Tips and tools for difficult conversations at work and at home.

– Increasing your work-life balance score with the Japanese concept of “kaizen”.

– Cultural differences in the perception of work-life balance.

– The high cost of always saying “yes”.

– Retrain your brain for positivity.

– Having it all… or having it all right now?

– Prioritize your life the way you want your obituary to read.

Successful organizations understand that being able to attract, recruit, and retain a qualified worker with appropriate skills, personality, attitude, and motivation can be challenging at the best of times, let alone when chronic labour shortages exist in both skilled and non-skilled occupations.

A shortage of skilled labour limits the ability to increase sales or production, which is why many successful organizations recruit foreign workers. The top source countries for foreign workers are India, China, Pakistan, and the Philippines, all collective in nature. Collectivists often recommend suitable candidates because of their commitment to family and community, giving employers access to a rich database of potential recruits. However, managerial hiring practices are not standardized globally. Religious practices coupled with English as a second language can also affect productivity and profitability if not managed effectively.

Target audience:
Sectors experiencing critical labour shortages including but not limited to oil and gas, healthcare, agriculture, hospitality, tourism, information technology, and trades.

Key takeaways:

– Why Canadian hiring practices sometimes inadvertently screen out suitable candidates.

– Effective interview techniques with individualistic and collective cultures.

– Face to face, phone, and email: Effective day-to-day communication when English is a second language.

– Workplace conflict resolution across all cultures.

– Death by meeting: How mismanaged global teams waste time and money.

– Non-verbal communication: To shake hands or not to shake hands… that is the question.

– Are we speaking the same language? Constructive feedback across cultures.

Tina Varughese

Stories of my life


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