Q: Tell us about a time when you did something awesome and innovative.
Financial literacy is very low in Canada, especially among youth. When I worked for a leading life insurance company, we developed an innovative program with the Toronto Raptors that helped educate young people about finances. The “Money for Life Basketball Clinics” combined the fundamentals of basketball and financial planning. Kids from 6 to 16 years old participated in hands-on basketball skills while listening to stories about saving and budgeting from coaches, players and even the Raptors mascot.
I received oodles of free publicity/marketing with my specialty coffee franchise while supporting the Alzheimer Society during Alzheimer Coffee Break Day. I reached out to all franchise owners in the city to participate. Given my expertise in journalism and public relations, I also wrote the media release and it went something like this: "Metro Grabbajabbas will be perking and pouring pots of java as part of a corporate and community effort in support of the Alzheimer Society, an organization dedicated to the fight against a disease that affects over 250,000 Canadians and their families."
The innovative idea was further enhanced by having volunteer drivers drop off freshly, perked coffees and specialty coffees to all the radio stations in the city to Broadcast Journalists who mentioned my name and retail location in their broadcast, while also supporting a needy cause - the Alzheimer Society.
In Grade 7, I managed to get a bullying teacher removed from our class and kept us safe. We had gone to our parents and other teachers but no one was doing anything. The view at the time was that we were more than likely a trouble-making class and deserved strict handling.
I organized a walk-out by the students and as a group we told the teachers and principal that we were not going back into the classroom until that teacher was removed. We pointed out that it was just a matter of time until the teacher seriously hurt one of us. The walk out made the teachers, principals and school board take the situation seriously. The teacher was removed from teaching by the school board and became an administrator.
I helped build a series of programs and tools that helped improve service at all of Cadillac Fairview properties. The best part about the work was that it helped build more meaningful connections between frontline workers and guests/clients of Cadillac Fairview.
I influenced a business school to establish an entirely new master’s program. I had signed up for an 18-month master’s in management program with a single specialization: operations research. Three finance classes and nine months into the program, I recognized my interest in exploring the world of finance further and decided I would take more finance courses than were required – all of them, in fact!
There was no way I could fit all those credits into the remaining nine months and there was no finance specialization that would recognize my efforts after taking on the extra course load. So, I did some research and approached the business school’s faculty with a proposal:
- they allow me stay on for an extra semester to take all the finance classes I was interested in,
- I demonstrated how the number of finance credits I would take would be equivalent to those taken by students in the MBA program’s finance specialization, and
- I assured them that my academic performance would not be impacted.
Twenty-one months after starting my master’s program, I graduated with a perfect GPA and a diploma that said “Master’s in Management, specializations in Operations Research AND Finance” – the first student ever to receive that double specialization. A few years later, the business school established the Master’s in Management with Finance specialization program.
I spend a lot of my free time taking my knowledge of software engineering, my self-education about electronics and electrical engineering, and building electronics for music and other artistic endeavours. For quite some time, my primary project has been to build my own musical instrument: a modular synthesizer of my own design from the ground up.
I am constantly learning from the work of others, and this is a field that is deep and wide. Someday I hope to look back on what I've done and see my own innovations at work, and contribute ideas back to the communities from which I have learned what I needed to build my own creation.
During my tenure as a software developer I have always tried to improve the user experience in terms of design and build and that has always been appreciated by the end users and stakeholders.
For an economics class in university I started tracking the impact of mental health resources on student outcomes and wellbeing. I was able to show that schools with more mental health professionals offering services to students had significantly happier students with a greater likelihood of getting jobs. This project is going to be turned into a year-long thesis in my final year of university! My hope is that it will empower all schools and all students to encourage the hiring of more mental health professionals on their campuses.
When I graduated from university, I applied to the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET) and was accepted! I embarked on an exciting journey to Japan to teach English in a small town in the south of Japan, and lived there for two years. Even though I didn’t know the language and was across the world from my family, this opportunity helped shape the person I am today. My advice to you is to take risks, travel to different countries, learn different languages and open yourself up to immersive cultural experiences.
I figured out a new way to undo tight knots from plastic bags so you don't have ruin your nails or cut the bag. Take one end of the loop, twist it tightly and push it into the knot. This will loosen the bag so you can open it seamlessly!