June 3, 1999 Vol . 15, No. 4

Starting Line: Payback

Osmar Zaïane loves Canada so much that he turned down lucrative jobs in the United States to stay.

The PhD graduate in computing science wanted to stay in Canada because this country accepted him as a landed immigrant seven years ago. He says he feels more at home in Canada than in Europe, "mainly because I'm getting used to it, but because Canada is very multicultural and I was married here."

Zaïane's background is also multicultural -- his father is Tunisian and his mother is German.

Before graduating this spring, Zaïane was contacted by headhunting firms in the U.S., many from Seattle. He received several job offers last year even before he completed his PhD. One company wanted to place him immediately with a client.

"They were looking for somebody specializing in web applications and knowing that I'm here in Vancouver they said, 'Are you willing to come to Seattle?' I said 'I can commute to Seattle once or twice a week,' but they said 'no, we want you here' and they were willing to rent an apartment for me in Seattle." But in the end, Zaïane turned the offer down.

"The salary I would get if I start working with a computer company in the States would be higher than my supervisory salary today after years of teaching at SFU. But there are many reasons why I'm not going to the States. Canada accepted me as an immigrant and invested in my Master's (at Laval University) and my PhD. I cannot say goodbye to Canada and go away, now that I'm productive. The States didn't invest anything in my education. I think it's my moral obligation to stay here."

Zaïane, who taught databases at SFU for one semester, also decided he preferred to start his career in academia.

Zaïane says the companies that contacted him learned about him through the Internet, where he set up a personal web page, containing a list of his published papers and his resume.

Zaïane sent out only one resume. It was to the University of Alberta for a faculty position, which he ended up getting.

Before that, Zaïane will receive a $5,000 award from the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) for best post-graduate student in the category of computer science and software engineering.

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