Job Title: Lead, Official Languages in Education Programs, Government of Alberta; Owner, Viva Caf Cafeterias Ltd.
Why She’s Top 40: She’s helping guide the future of language education in Alberta and providing opportunities for immigrant women to succeed.
If you could change one thing about Edmonton, what would it be? “I’d love to see each woman bringing more of her own networks of friends in a way where they’re supporting each other, not only outside of work but in the workplace too, and cross-networking.”
When Vivian Abboud came to Canada at the age of 17, she was stunned by the amount of freedom she had compared to her native Lebanon. However, there were still obstacles and roadblocks she had to navigate. “When I first arrived to my welcoming community, there were lots of boundaries, and lots of people saying things that could have defined me if I would have accepted them,” Abboud says. She has made a consistent effort to evolve and break down those types of barriers.
“I think that I’ve changed a lot of stereotypes that women, specifically immigrant women, can’t do it all.”
After graduating from the University of Alberta’s Campus Saint-Jean with her bachelor’s degree in education, Abboud began teaching mathematics at Balwin School. In her second year, she was appointed head of the department. Abboud, who confesses to always having her eyes open for opportunities, eventually stepped out of the classroom and into consultant and program-manager positions within mathematics. In her current position as team leader at the government of Alberta’s Official Languages in Education Programs, she deals with numbers in a different way, focusing on consensus-building and negotiations – something Abboud says appeals to her logical side.
Abboud’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to create Viva Cafe Cafeterias Ltd., a catering company that provides healthy options at Holy Trinity Catholic High School while creating jobs for women. Her busy schedule can include 5:30 a.m. workouts and meetings with community members, but mostly time spent on doctoral work. The former teacher, set to graduate with her doctorate this fall, considers education a huge priority. “As the world is evolving, we need to evolve as citizens, leaders, decision-makers,” she says. “I find that the best way to update our thoughts is research.”
From her childhood schooling to her entrepreneurial pursuits, Abboud has had one overarching goal throughout her life. “I wanted to prove that women could do whatever they want,” she says. “Wherever I feel there’s not enough women, I like to dive into that field.”