Starting back in September, we have been sharing a weekly series called Employee Spotlight, featuring the staff at The Storefront and what we do. This week’s spotlight is on Sanah Manickam, our Training and Skills Development, Project Lead.
Name: Sanah Manickam
Job Title: Training and Skills Development, Project Lead
What do you do at The Storefront?
Currently, I am supporting residents with access to skills, tools and knowledge to achieve specific work goals. This includes technical employment skills to navigate the labour market, as well as understanding of local training opportunities.
Do you have a motto you like to go by?
The motto that I like to go by is “you manifest what you believe.”
How did you come to work at The Storefront?
After completing a Master’s in Public Administration, I spent some time at the Ministry of Finance doing climate change policy research. I then started working with the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, where I worked on policy implementation for Social Assistance programs in Ontario. While I did love my job, I felt the need to do more on-the-ground work where I could see and feel its direct impacts. I wanted to work directly with people while still being able to use my previous training and experience. That’s how I ended up at The Storefront – an organization located in the very community I grew up in!
What does it mean to you to be part of a Community Backbone organization?
I was 8 years old when we moved into the KGO community – a time when The Storefront was not around. Growing up in a marginalized community, I experienced and witnessed a lot of hardship and we didn’t have a whole lot of support to deal with it.
Today, I see that people from the community come into The Storefront with a sense of confidence, knowing that we have their backs; that we’re here to support them through whatever it is that they need help with through our various programs and resources, as well as the space to create, learn, and build together.
It feels really good to know that the void I once experienced has been filled and that people in the community now have a whole network of support through this community backbone organization.
A book I often like to revisit is The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. It was a book I couldn’t put down the first time I read it..so many words of wisdom.
What do you enjoy most about working at The Storefront?
I love getting to meet and engage with all the different people and local groups that come through The Storefront. The work we do is inherently collaborative, and so this means that we often get to experience a wide range of perspectives and ideas from community members to peers. I love the exposure to the different levels of thought and being able to learn and grow from them.
What is your favourite food/cuisine?
I am an absolute foodie; but if I had to pick, I would say, I love when my partner creatively whips up a meal at home. He doesn’t cook per say, but whatever it is that he puts together, it’s always so satisfyingly good.
What is a project that you are working on at The Storefront?
A project I am currently working on at The Storefront is developing videos for East Scarborough Works, which is a local workforce development initiative. The purpose of these videos is to connect decision-makers with lived realities and to highlight the value of a place-based approach to local training and hiring. We also hope these videos will offer some encouragement to those whose employment journeys have been disrupted due to the pandemic.
Apart from your work at The Storefront, what are some side projects or hobbies you have outside of the office?
Outside of the office, much of my focus right now is on my 2 year old daughter, engaging her in different kinds of play and enjoying all of the new things she says and does everyday. We have also moved to a new home and neighbourhood, so we’ve been busy exploring the best local parks, trails and sights.
If someone were looking to join the team at The Storefront, or looking for work in a role similar to yours or in the nonprofit sector in general, what advice would you have for them?
The work you do in the nonprofit sector can be constantly evolving. I’ve come to see this as a remarkable opportunity to experience new types of work, meet new people, and enhance your skill-set. Being flexible and adaptable are key here.
Also, a concept that The Storefront values is putting ‘people and process before product’. This is something that personally resonates with me and I believe it is an ability that can help one thrive at The Storefront.
Favourite place you’ve been to?
One of my top favourite trips would have to be our most recent travels to Banff and Jasper, Alberta. This was the first trip we took with our daughter, who turned ten months on the day that we visited Lake Louise – so it’s a very beautiful memory that we have of celebrating her. This was also the first time we truly got to experience the breadth of Canada’s natural beauty. It was just awe-inspiring, and now I can’t wait to explore other parts of this big beautiful land.
What is on your wish list for the next five years?
Having a young child, I often find myself wondering what kind of a world she will find herself in 20 or 30 years from now, and it tends to make me very anxious. As someone who cares about issues such as a sustainable environment and equitable, inclusive and healthy societies, these are things I want to start teaching and exposing my daughter to early on in life, so that she has a set of values and beliefs that will always guide her to do her part to take care of and uplift this world. I hope in 5 years, my child will be action-oriented and that we can take on meaningful little projects together to promote the change we want to see.
Professionally, I actually have a simple wish which I have been putting off for too long now. The goal is to get certified in project management. While I have some training and experience under my belt, I’d like to be able to incorporate more project management tools into my daily work.