Co-founder and CEO of Verably.com. Based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
I was born/grew up in: Born in Tehran, Iran. Grew up in Chad. Moved to Canada in my early teens.
I now live in: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
I completed my training/education at: University of Victoria (Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees)
Describe what you do at work.
I work on building our technology company, create software for businesses and community groups. I’m in charge of figuring out where to take the company and how to get there: What should we do next? If it’s a good time for growth, what part of the company should we expand? What are our competitors doing? What do customers want and need?
As a manager, I do a lot of research on my own to learn more about the issues. I come up with different options, and then bring them to the team. Together, we discuss the possibilities and make a decision.
At university, I got an undergraduate degree in math and computer science. Then I studied computer vision as a graduate student. I bridged the fields of art and computer science by researching how to assess colour modulations in famous paintings.
Today, I’m bridging computer science and public engagement. I help build software for businesses and community groups to engage their members. I see it as a way of using software to engage the public for social good.
I mainly work in English, but I’m also fluent in French and Farsi.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people’s lives?
My husband and I are co-owners of our company. Above all, we’re passionate about giving people the tools they need to make social change. When we were developing a business plan, we thought about how our work could have the greatest social impact. We decided that meant helping our clients engage their members, so they could have an even greater social impact down the line.
For me, social impact means helping individuals improve their own lives and the lives of others. Essentially, it’s the result of any kind of work that creates a more equitable society. In my current job, I hope to have social impact by giving people the tools they need to build and sustain their own community and support networks.
What motivates you in your career?
I like discovering how people can use technology to improve their lives and other people’s lives. I love seeing the lightbulb go on in people’s minds when you provide them with the right tool. A lot of the software that gets produced isn’t ready for ordinary people to use. I get to make software for ordinary people and ordinary communities using extraordinary services like cloud-based services.
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
I originally wanted to study medicine. But I got stumped during my second year of biology courses. I just couldn’t visualize the molecular models we were learning about in organic chemistry. I was having an identity crisis! I knew I would bomb my courses if I stayed on the same path. But what else would allow me to have as big a social impact as medicine?
I didn’t have especially good grades in math, but I did enjoy it. So I went to my math professor for advice. He told me bluntly that I had potential, but I just wasn’t putting in enough effort. He offered to delay my final exam and let me work on it over the summer. I worked my butt off that summer, and ended up doing really well.
But what could I do with a degree in math? My professor suggested that computer science could be a good practical application. When I took computer science in high school, I didn’t like it very much. But I loved my first class at university. I had found the answer I was looking for! The downside was that I basically had to start my degree all over again.
In retrospect, the switch from biology and medicine to math and computer science may have been painful, but it was well worth it. And although I never went to medical school, my biology courses did give me important real-life knowledge. I use that knowledge every day to help me understand and explain things. So I wasn’t wasting my time. I was using what I was learning to find my own career path.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
I have two daughters and I serve on the local school board. I also enjoy reading (mostly non-fiction), spending time on social media, and Zumba. I really like getting together with friends and family, especially over dinner, as well as watching theatre and live music. Whenever people ask me for help with technology, I love helping them become more science literate.
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
Don’t be afraid of the future. When I was a teen, I never would have imagined having the career I have today. At some point you’ll figure out what you want to do. But you’ll only understand how things fit together in hindsight. So don’t be afraid to explore your different talents and interests. They’re what makes you unique! Always move forward, always be trying new things.