Source: Canadian Arab Institute
Sharif Higazy is the very definition of a global citizen: when interviewed, he explains that he’s been travelling between five different cities in the past 48 hours, including Dubai and London. As an international business expert and entrepreneur, the 37 year old Higazy has spent the last ten years working with clients like Amazon, Google, RBC, and Wal-Mart. “I have developed a unique experience in strategic planning, entrepreneurship, marketing, mentoring, business development, exporting, media and designing innovation ecosystems.” It’s a CV that would impress most CEOs.
Higazy, who holds a bachelor of international business from Carleton University, started practicing his business skills from a young age. “I participated in a wide variety of entrepreneurial activities in North America and Europe, and several incubation and accelerator programs.” While still at Carleton, he was the brains behind Mosaic Productions, an educational project aimed at Muslim children. Higazy went on to launch projects like 320Reality, a video contest that encouraged social entrepreneurs to pitch solutions to challenges faced by North Africa, Turkey and the Middle East, and work for companies like Canon. Now, managing revenue streams of over $100M is all in a day’s work.
For Higazy, who has been based in Ottawa for over 15 years, being a global citizen has its benefits. “I walk in Shanghai, Paris, Dubai or any other city in the world and do not feel like a foreigner. You perceive all people as equal humans and you have the skill to break through culture barriers, listen, communicate and do business.” His family in Ottawa helps keep him grounded; when he speaks about his three children, he uses words like “amazing” and “wonderful,” and his wife Alia El Banna is a professor of international business at Carleton University. And he’s just as passionate in his off-hours as he is in business. He currently gives his time to the Canadian Cancer Society, and in the past, he’s spoken about his business experience at conferences all over the world.
Today, Higazy casts his business leader’s eye across the Canadian Arab community. “The Arab and Canadian cultures are rich, and there are many positive values to help an entrepreneur advance. It is time to realize that critical thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship are not a luxury; they are a necessity.” He looks up to people who think outside the box, especially social entrepreneurs “who use creativity to address societal change.” For Higazy, social change is just one more thing on his always-expanding CV.