Today’s Notable Young Professional is Abdullah Snobar, who’s the Executive Director of one of the world’s leading business incubators – downtown Toronto’s DMZ. We caught up with him to find out how his work is making a difference in Canada’s tech scene and what advice he would share with other ambitious young professionals…
Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I help people build their dreams and support the thriving Canadian tech ecosystem.
What was the inspiration for your career route?
Before joining the DMZ, I came from a background of military, hospitality and then a faculty at Ryerson where I heard about the amazing things happening here. I was then asked to take on role of director of community and business development at the DMZ where my learning curve was sharp. In July of 2015, I became the executive director of the DMZ.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
Becoming the executive director of the DMZ. Then, as executive director, the DMZ ranked #1 in North America; and meeting with a 10-year-old aspiring entrepreneur on the same day that the DMZ hosted His Royal Highness, The Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
In five years: helping people. The rest is still unknown as I am new to my role and excited to see what opportunities will be popping up in our world as we advance.
In 10 years: helping people and having a family. In 20 years: early retirement in old Havana smoking cigars at the Iberostar Parque Central.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Name of the game is purposeful passion. Something that has stuck with me throughout the years is one of my mentor’s sayings: be the best at something that matters. I’ve carried that through in work and I believe that’s a great way to look at your career, and stay true to your passion while providing value to others. Make sure to read the news, stay in the know, wake up early, and when times get rough, prove them wrong!
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
I support a few: Ride to Conquer Cancer, Lifeline Syria, Ryerson University, Supa Maasai (a foundation which I helped build), RIEL and ShareTheMeal.
Life is all about paying it forward. We don’t get ahead by thinking of ourselves but by thinking as one. I truly believe that the power of generosity can change the world. I always say, love the world with your hand, not just with your heart.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Work-life balance. But on the other hand, I’m convinced there is no such thing if you love what you do.
Sometimes being too hard on yourself when things go wrong can be challenging. It is always about remembering why you started, being in the present so you can act on the future.
Part of how I learned to deal with my challenges has been perspective through travel. It has helped me understand the difference between a crisis and an obstacle, and helped me to see the opportunity in everything and focus on what is important.
What does the word notable mean to you?
“When you look back at everything you have done, is there a legacy amongst it?” – Unknown
Where is your favourite place to dine in the city?
Hard to choose just one. Here are my current top three (changes regularly): Foxley on Ossington, Jacob’s and Co. Steakhouse on Brant Street, and Milo’s (best shawarma in town) at 10 Dundas St E.
What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
Website – BBC News. Tied between Hotline Bling and Vivir mi Vida – Marc Anthony.
Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
You should absolutely follow @Brentertainer on Twitter and Instagram: “The Joy Jar”
What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
Havana, Cuba, because of the beauty of the people, the simple happiness, the love of music and dancing, and of course the cigars!
Beirut, Lebanon, because it has everything to offer; nature, food, fashion, nightlife, and of course beaches.
Next, I am travelling to Ecuador with six Ryerson students on a volunteer experiential learning initiative, a project that I created and have been leading since 2009 to help give perspective to students and engage with incredible communities abroad.
What gives you the greatest FOMO?
Waking up late and sleeping early.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Nutella ice cream cheesecake!
What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
Nothing… no regrets ever. But if I really had to, I would choose to spend less on Uber.
And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Real happiness; #puravida. I live by this.