SASKATOON, Sask. – For about a year and a half now, Kevin Newbon has been a proud Canadian.
When considering a move from his home in England, the 47-year-old had his eye on a couple of other countries as well, but ultimately the Siemens Transportation Group’s Going Global strategy lured Newbon to Canadian soil.
Newbon is now one of 250 international drivers working for Siemens. The company established the Going Global recruitment program, which is an internal company program specializing in the recruitment and retention of professional truck drivers and mechanics on an international level, in 2004.
At the time, Newbon was running a driving school in England and the more he heard about the program, the more intrigued he became by it.
“I found myself thinking, ‘I’d love to do that’,” he said, adding that his time with the British Armed Forces got him used to being away from home soil. “One of my ambitions was to live in another country.”
The London-born immigrant got an early start in the trucking industry, as he was able to obtain his trucking licence at a young age as part of his military service.
Newbon spent 12 years in the military and that was, in many ways, his first involvement in trucking. He was in the Signals Corps, where the unit did a lot of field operations, and Newbon would load his equipment into a truck, drive to the destination point and set up his equipment.
Newbon also has experience as a driver-trainer in his native land and eventually, he started running a driving school in England. It was during this time he was tipped off to Siemens and its Going Global recruitment program.
Newbon explained the decision to immigrate to Canada was not one he or his wife took lightly. “We felt it was important not to just jump,” he added. “We discussed it quite a bit.”
Some of the things he considered were leaving his family – he was leaving behind a grown daughter and his parents – but he was also considering how congested the roads were in England and what they would be coming to.
It wouldn’t be the first time Newbon would be on Canadian soil, as he vacationed here a couple of years ago. Although familiarity with the country did not play as big a part in the decision as the support he received from Siemens’ recruiting department throughout the entire immigration process.
“Personally, the company was very supportive all the way for that,” he said. “We found the process worked for us. We could ask for help when we needed it.”
Newbon did not need a lot of help adjusting to driving a truck in Canada, or transitioning from his job as a teacher to getting back behind the wheel in a driving capacity.
“The biggest difference, outside of driving on the other side of the road, is the differences in the transmission,” he explained. “Being behind the wheel of a truck and instructing, pretty much goes hand in hand. You have to change your mental attitude, because bang, you’re back in there.”
Newbon has adjusted so well to life behind the wheel of a truck he is even doing some instructing with Siemens’ driver development manager Kevin Wald.
When it comes to moving between countries, the work culture is only half the battle. For an employee to be successful and happy, they will also have to adjust to the social culture of their new surroundings.
Since moving to Canada, Newbon has noticed the biggest difference between his new home and his old home is the attitude and frame of mind of the residents.
“People here make a lot more of their free time,” he noted. “By comparison, the English have a tendency to get into their shell and stay there.”
Newbon admits immigrating to another country to live and work may not be appealing to everyone, but it was to his family. He and his wife have adapted quickly because they didn’t continue to make comparisons between Canada and England after the first couple of months, adding that they fell in love with the Canadian culture to where it has now become their lifestyle.
“We’ve embraced the culture so much it’s our way of life,” he said. “It fits in with us.”