Each year, OBJ and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce choose 40 of the region’s top young entrepreneurs and business executives and recognize them for their professional achievements, expertise and community service.
In these profiles, OBJ highlights some of this year’s recipients – their impressive accomplishments, what drives them and how they like to spend their downtime away from the business world.
Company: A leading commerce platform designed for small and medium-sized businesses worldwide.
Education: Bachelor of arts, University of Ottawa (2013)
Charitable involvement: The Guild Ottawa
Biggest biz achievement: Helping grow Shopify from 150 employees to more than 3,000 employees globally.
Biggest obstacle: I’ve worked incredibly hard to attract new tech talent to Ottawa. This, however, has come with a number of obstacles, particularly when persuading candidates to choose Ottawa as a destination over other global tech hubs such as Silicon Valley, Austin, Toronto and Vancouver.
Biggest influence: My family. I’ve been supported and encouraged to learn, to fail and to push the boundaries beyond the expectations others have of me. My dad, a small business owner, and my mom, a teacher, are both life-long learners and have instilled the values of hard work, taking time to learn, and most importantly, treating people with respect, care and directness regardless of who they are. I have three supportive brothers who have challenged me and pushed me to run faster and work harder (mostly in an effort to catch up to them).
Biggest lesson learned: The most important lesson I’ve learned in business is that learning to make great decisions quickly is a skill that you must actively work on. If a decision is easily reversible, then it should take you less time to make that decision. If it would be hard to reverse the decision, it should take more time. Recognizing that you will never be 100 per cent sure your decision is the best one, but being diligent about acquiring the right amount of context and gaining perspectives from a diverse group of people, will help you make better decisions more often.
First jobs: Ski instructor in the winters and ice cream scooper in the summer
Advice I’d give the younger me: Don’t worry so much. Or perhaps, figure out what things are worth worrying about. I guess this is advice I have for myself today, too.
What’s left to do: I mean, what’s not left! This is just the beginning (and I hope I’ll be saying that until I die). I’d like to keep learning new skills in my field and others, continue growing Shopify to become the best employer on the planet, perhaps start my own business, perhaps run for public office one day, live in new places, meet and learn from many more people, have a family and earn my private pilot’s licence.
Favourite pastime: I love running.
I’m currently reading: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
Favourite movie: I don’t watch too many movies, but the most recent one I watched and LOVED was Hidden Figures.
Favourite song: Easy Silence by the Dixie Chicks
Favourite local pro sports team: Ottawa Senators
Favourite local summer event: Ottawa Bluesfest
Preferred social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram
Twitter handle: @alambzz