One night Vasvi Balasaria found herself unable to sleep and decided to use that time to find online opportunities through Reddit.
Little did she know that she would meet Riaz Sidi, President at Sidi.io, who would change her life forever.
“I had been looking at a lot of online options because everything was closed down due to COVID-19,” she said. “I thought this would be the perfect chance to look outside of India because it’s really easy to do online work from anywhere.”
Balasaria shared that she was curious if she would be able to take her experience from India and apply it to other international markets.
“I wanted to experience other markets, there’s a certain way advertising was done in India and there are different approaches for different countries and I found that fascinating,” she said. “That’s when Riaz reached out to me.”
Balasaria and Sidi continued their conversation through LinkedIn where they set up an interview for the role of Performance Marketing Specialist.
After successfully completing the interview and practical case study, Balasaria began her journey working at Sidi.io.
“Because I wanted to work directly with my teammates and clients I actually worked from 5:30 P.M. to 2:30 A.M. India Standard Time.” she shared.
After a couple of months into her career, Balasaria was promoted to a Digital Strategist, a role that puts her in charge of leading client strategy, development, and execution.
Working Remotely: Canada vs. India
Thinking back to her experience working at Sidi.io, a Canadian company, and comparing the differences, Balasaria said it was quite a shock at first.
“In India, there’s a lot of hierarchy in the workplace,” she explained. “You wouldn’t call their boss by their first name ever, there’s not enough freedom, and so it almost took me some time to get used to the freedom.”
She shared that there were so many differences, not only because she was from another county, but a completely different continent and culture.
“I remember when Riaz gave me a Facebook campaign and he told me ‘You can do whatever you want with it.’,” she said. “But then I would want to test a new audience and would wait hours to get his permission to do it and he’s like ‘Why are you asking me? If you want to test an audience just do it.’ and I realized that I wasn’t used to that freedom.”
After working at Sidi.io for almost a year, Balasaria had reached out to Sidi and Michael Crow, Director of Performance Marketing to pitch an idea.
“I wanted to continue growing because it was my dream to move out and that was the first time they sort of realized it,” she said. “A few days later we talked a little more about it, looked at the options, and what kind of Visa we can apply for.”
After a few gruelling months figuring out how she was going to get to Canada and the process behind obtaining a work Visa, Balasaria received the good news.
“I didn’t know if it was going to happen, but once I realized it’s real and I got the Visa in my hand, I went to see my grandparents, my uncles, my cousins, basically everyone I grew up with and that was really great because they were all really happy for me,” she said.
One week before her flight Balasaria shared that everyone around her had become very emotional but she did her best to stay strong and make the move.
“I had to just put my foot down emotionally and get the move done.” she shared.
Arriving in Canada
On the day of her flight, Balasaria began her 2-day journey to Canada.
“So I arrived really late on Monday, like 11:55 P.M. so you could say almost Tuesday, and it’s funny because I was so used to people just walking around me and suddenly I just heard my name being called out and I looked and saw Riaz but I didn’t realize it was him,” she said. “Then it hit me that it was Riaz and I was shocked by the fact that he made it all happen.”
After meeting Riaz for the first time he helped her with her luggage and brought her back to her new home in Ottawa.
“I got home and I slept for 12+ hours because I needed that, I took a well-needed shower and on Tuesday night Riaz took me to a restaurant with his wife and kid,” she said. “That was the first time I went out and then from that day on for the rest of the week he would come pick me up from work every day.”
Balasaria explained that Canada had many key differences from India that truly surprised her including self-checkouts, paved roads, clean drinking water, lack of cows walking around, and fewer people milling around the streets.
“I’m comparing what I’m seeing here to a giant overpopulated city in India,” she explained. “Ottawa is quiet, peaceful and there’s so much space even downtown. There were a lot of small things that surprised me too like cars stopping for me, people at Walmart stopping their carts so I could cross and I was like, why would you do that for me?”
In terms of the weather from India to Canada, Balasaria shared that she finds it cold but she is starting to get used to it as long as she has a jacket handy.
“I think I’m getting used to it but I won’t get used to it at the same pace as it’s going down. So I’m definitely in for a very interesting winter,” she explained. “I’m excited about the snow too and I mean I’ve had snow cones before and I accidentally put my hands on it. So I know what to expect. Like you touch it and it starts melting even though it looks fluffy and then your hand is red.”
As of the posting date of this article, Balasaria has been in Canada for a month and shared that she has mastered the transit system and feels more independent than ever.
“I want to work really hard and continue that momentum because moving is such a big decision and it kind of threw me off — not threw me off as and like I wasn’t prepared — but I need to get back into the rhythm. It’s a lot more comfortable here and I don’t want to get used to the comfort because if you get too comfortable, it’s difficult to progress,” she stated.
She added that by 2022 her ultimate goal is to continue to grow in her role as a Digital Strategist and bring her family down to Canada to visit.
“That’s what I’m saving towards, I’ll save enough so that my parents can come to visit,” she explained. “I can show them around hopefully in summer because I wouldn’t want them to come when it’s cold.
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