Tina Varughese - Top Safety Speakers

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Tina Varughese

Speaker Expertise
Communication, DEI Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Humor, Inspiration/Motivation, Leadership

Named one of Canada’s Top 10 Notable Speakers by Ignite Magazine, Tina cleverly tackles hot button topics, like diversity and inclusion, in today’s complex climate. She consistently rates as the ‘best speaker of the conference’. By carefully weaving personal stories with touching humour, her interactive and highly entertaining approach disarms attendees as she breaks down barriers while building bridges. She ignites authenticity, transparency and ultimately inclusion.

Tina’s work has been featured in the Toronto Star, TSN, CBC Eyeopener, the Globe and Mail, Adrenaline Magazine, Alberta Venture Magazine and U of S Alumni Magazine. Clients include Pfizer Canada, Disney, Telus, Loblaws, Kraft-Heinz, Hockey Canada, Hyundai Canada, Department of Justice and Canada Life. She is the Past-President of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (Alberta). Tina is also a Council Member of McMaster University’s esteemed Future of Canada Council- a project based on Canada’s future for the better. She has a strong professional background in immigration where she ran her own successful relocation and settlement firm prior to speaking professionally. Tina has been the face of diversity, literally, when she was chosen to be in Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty representing beauty in diversity. Tina resides in Calgary, AB with her husband and two children.

Presentation Description & Topics


50 Shades of Beige: Communicate with the Cross-Cultural Advantage

Are issues like these causing stress, conflict, confusion, time and money in the workplace?

  • Why does this client/co-worker constantly interrupt the conversation? Is he not interested in what I’m saying?
  • He never looks me in the eye. Clearly he does not respect me.
  • Hua said she’d complete the proposal last week yet she still hasn’t. Does she not understand it’s important?
  • Gustavo never has an opinion during meetings. Was he the best candidate for this job?

Why this topic?
Successful organizations understand that being able to communicate cross-culturally in the workplace leads to enhanced productivity, performance and employee engagement. Managing diversity drives profitability, leads to innovation and promotes an inspiring workplace culture.

Key takeaways

  • Cultural differences in communication: Indirect vs. direct speaking styles
  • Individualistic and collective cultures: How values change the way we communicate
  • Effective day-to-day communication when English is a second language
  • Non-verbal communication: Why the “unspoken” word is the most important of all
  • How global companies lose millions in revenue due to a lack of understanding of cultural differences
  • How to use the VAK model of Communication (visual/audio/kinesthetic communication styles) using the cross-cultural advantage

KEYNOTE/CONCURRENTS 45 minutes – 90 minutes
WORKSHOPS Breakout (2 hrs); Half day (3 hours); Full day (6 hours)


Human Resources

Recruiting and Retaining Foreign Workers for Success and Sustainability

Are issues like these causing stress, conflict, confusion, time and money in the workplace?

  • During the interview, this foreign worker couldn’t engage in small talk and won’t address past achievements and accomplishments, yet seems highly qualified. Is he?
  • Zeeshan’s accent is so strong that I can’t understand him when he calls me with off-site with questions.
  • I often offer Pierre constructive feedback, yet he never implements it.
  • Vilma continues to speak Tagalog with Caridad around patients. Will patients feel anxious and confused?

Why this topic?

Successful organizations understand that being able to attract, recruit and retain a qualified worker with appropriate skills, personality, attitude and motivation can be challenging at the best of times, let alone when chronic labour shortages exist in both skilled and non-skilled occupations. A shortage of skilled labour limits the ability to increase sales or production, which is why many successful organizations recruit foreign workers. The top source countries for foreign workers are India, China, Pakistan and the Philippines, all collective in nature. Collectivists often recommend suitable candidates because of their commitment to family and community, giving employers access to a rich database of potential recruits. However, managerial hiring practices are not standardized globally. Religious practices coupled with English as a second language can also affect productivity and profitability if not managed effectively.

Key takeaways

  • Why Canadian hiring practices sometimes inadvertently ‘screen out’ suitable candidates
  • Effective interview techniques with individualistic and collective cultures
  • Face to face, phone and email: Effective day-to-day communication when English is a second language
  • Workplace conflict resolution across all cultures
  • Death by meeting: How mismanaged global teams waste time and money
  • Non-verbal communication: To shake hands or not to shake hands… that is the question
  • Are we speaking the same language? Constructive feedback across cultures

KEYNOTE/CONCURRENTS 45 minutes – 90 minutes
WORKSHOPS Breakout (2 hrs); Half day (3 hours); Full day (6 hours)



Inclusive Leadership from Silos to Safety

Are issues like these causing stress, conflict, confusion, time and money in the workplace?

  • The sales managers are at ‘lunch meetings’ all the time, whereas we’re on site working. How does the sales team expect to make our deadline with that attitude?
  • I believe in an open door policy but Anil is in my office all the time and I’m struggling to complete my own work.
  • Mary Ann’s negativity is decreasing morale. I’m worried it’s affecting our productivity. How should I approach this with her?
  • Joe is highly respected by his crew yet working 15 hour days. Will he burn out eventually? I can’t afford to lose him

Why this topic?

Creating a great organization isn’t just about breaking down cultural barriers. It’s about building a workplace where everyone works towards a common purpose and feels included despite title, rank or position. Successful leaders understand people do not leave jobs. People leave people. Today’s successful leaders believe not only in investing in themselves, but encouraging others to grow, to learn and to develop in order to build inclusivity and trust, breakdown silos, foster employee engagement, encourage open lines of communication, promote creativity and create a healthy, happy and inspiring workplace.

Key takeaways

  • Breaking down silos: How to create respectful, communicative, inclusive and collaborative teams
  • Delivering constructive, influential, inclusive and solution-based feedback
  • Death by meeting: Five key steps to inclusive and effective meetings
  • Inclusive personal and organizational purpose: How recognizing others’ contributions gives you a stronger sense of purpose
  • Negative Nellie and Nasty Ned: How to actively listen, include and empathize to change negative behaviors at work
  • The importance of stress management for leaders

KEYNOTE/CONCURRENTS 45 minutes – 90 minutes
WORKSHOPS Breakout (2 hrs); Half day (3 hours); Full day (6 hours)

Strategic business planning facilitation coupled with professional development for management teams may be offered with this session or any other session.



The Human Side of Unconscious Bias

Are issues like these causing stress, conflict, confusion, time and money in the workplace?

• Emily is 30 years old. This role involves a lot of travel – should she promoted? What if she decides to have children?

• Manuel has such a strong accent that I’m just not sure if he’s a good cultural fit for our organization?

• As an ambitious white male I am the minority these days! I can’t check any of the boxes. Will I be passed over for this promotion yet again? I’m ready to quit.

• Should Morton really lead the charge of the IT department? He just seems ancient to me.

Why this topic?

First impressions, positive or negative, are made in seven seconds or less. We all make quick assessments of others without even realizing it. We are not born with bias. Biases are formed by past situations, experiences, background and culture. Unconscious biases typically exist towards gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability (both physical and mental), and weight. Most of us will say “I see people for who they are” but do we? Unconscious biases affect and impact decision making both professionally and personally with real impact. Recognizing, managing and mitigating unconscious bias promotes diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion drives innovation, increases productivity, and stimulates creativity while promoting a healthy, happy, engaging workplace culture.

Key takeaways

• The Neuroscience behind Unconscious Bias (“No blame, no shame”)

• Managing and Mitigating Unconscious Bias in Recruitment, Retention and Employee Engagement

• Breaking Bias – Strategies for Gender, Maternal, Affinity and Ageism

• Sesame Street 2.0 – One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong… or does it? How Diversity Drives Innovation, Creativity and Productivity

• Why Creating a Culture of Inclusion affects Positivity, Profits and Purpose

Hear what others have to say

Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know that I have looked over our 2018 Western Conference on Safety delegate evaluations and I was thrilled to find the reviews of your keynote presentation have been overwhelmingly positive. So much so that I can say, without reservation, that your keynote presentation was the hit of the conference. Thank you for starting off our day with such an energetic, fun and positive presentation that not only entertained but also educated the audience.  – Terry Swain, Conference Chair, 2018 Western Conference on Safety

Tina, on behalf of Pfizer Canada, we would like to thank you for your keynote presentation – what a fantastic way to start off our business meeting week! The relevance of this topic is so pertinent in today’s world and sharing your stories and perceptions with us was truly valuable. Your positive and energetic nature, along with your bubbly and hilarious self really caught everyone’s attention as well as getting your messaging across so effectively! You are an excellent communicator, very inspiring and a true talent! – PATRICIA TAMAKUWALA Marketing, Pfizer Canada

Tina’s keynote, ’50 Shades of Beige: Communicate with the Cross-Cultural Advantage’ was the highest rated at this year’s HR and Leadership Conference. She brought tremendous energy to the conference and engaged the audience throughout the keynote. – RON GAUTHIER CEO, CPHR Manitoba

Your morning keynote ‘Communicate with the Cross-Cultural Advantage’ rated 4.8/5 as did the afternoon workshop, ‘Recruiting and Retaining Foreign Workers for Success and Sustainability’. This is excellent since the audience was quite a mix of people from the entire production chain. I had nothing but rave reviews and will be referring you to anyone looking for a speaker on cross-culture topics. It was informative AND fun… nice to have participants leave on a high note! – KIM BROWNE Conference Organizer SK Pork Industry Symposium

It was such a pleasure to listen to you! You were an inspiration to all the women in attendance – I have never been as moved by a speaker as I was by you. Thank you being inspiring, authentic, and sincere in your honesty. – DANIELLE THURGOOD, CTDP CAA Club Group of Companies

The Lafarge Canada Performance Day Seminar in February 2020 had people development at the core of its messaging. A session on EVP (Employee Value Propositioning) saw our guest speaker Tina Varughese address the team on the important topic of Unconscious Bias and how it can impact the workplace. Tina brought a fresh, energetic and challenging approach to this topic. Her use of real life examples, life experience and well placed humour was perfectly balanced. She engaged her audience and delivered a thought provoking message that was well delivered and received. – JOHN MCCABE Vice President, Lafarge Canada

“We (Ottawa Police Members) thoroughly enjoyed your presentation. Your presentation/dialogue on inclusion was the best I have seen yet.” – MARK FORD Superintendent, Frontline Operations Ottawa Police Service