April 14, 2015 9:40 pm
Updated: April 14, 2015 9:49 pm

Surviving the slump: How to turn a layoff into an opportunity


CALGARY – Julia Zarina was laid off from her high-paying position at Suncor when oil prices collapsed, but she’s leveraging her human resources expertise to start a new business.

“I’ve designed my own logo, I’ve designed my own website,” said Zarina.

The young Calgarian admits losing her job hurt on a personal level, but says the experience made her realize she’s finished with “corporate HR” and is going to launch a career coaching company geared towards millennials like herself.

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“I really want to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Experts say many new businesses, including energy companies, are born during economic slumps.

“I’ve often heard of people who have just taken that uncertainty at their current employer and thought, ‘I’m going to take some certainty into my own hands and I’m going to start my own company,’” said Scott Crockatt with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.

Calgary non-profit Momentum says you can leverage a layoff into a business if you already have a product or concept in mind. The organization helps would-be entrepreneurs formulate ideas, offering training, coaching and micro-loans. Click here to visit Momentum’s site for more information.

“Often somebody who’s experienced a layoff has tremendous assets they can leverage, and sometimes they’re in just the right place for a business idea to flourish,” said Momentum’s Carolyn Davis. “For example, a woman who has a strong language barrier, and speaks Spanish, may be able to create a day-home environment that specializes in helping young children learn Spanish.”

Zarina immigrated from Russia at 21, aiming for an oil and gas career.

“Yes, I got laid off, but I made it to where I wanted to be.  So I did achieve my goal, and now is just a new phase of my life, and I will achieve more.”

She hopes to begin taking clients by summer 2015.

With files from Erika Tucker

© 2015 Shaw Media

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