Mentee Spotlight: Devreet Dulay

learner Story

Meet Devreet, a Strategy & Operations Sprint alum at The Commons & first non-technical hire at Respell

Read on to learn more about why Devreet decided to join The Commons, what she took away from the Strategy & Operations Sprint, and how she made the move from real estate to an early-stage artificial intelligence startup!

To summarize Devreet's career path in 1 line

Operations + Stylist @ Aritzia (progressed from being a product/client expert in stores to working in the backend helping operate 100+ stores in Canada and the US) --> University of British Columbia Sauder School of Business (had 3 specializations: Real Estate + Operations/Logistics + Business Tech Management) --> Real Estate (grew my own real estate business for 5 years during undergrad 😅) --> BizOps Lead @ Respell (1st non-technical hire at early stage AI startup) 

Describe yourself with 3 emojis & give us a little context on why you chose them!

😅 I’m a pretty silly person, and this emoji is how I feel a lot of the time!

⚖️ Balance is a huge personal mantra of mine. I apply this to both my professional and personal life. Things can get pretty intense sometimes and feel overwhelming. I like to ensure I’m always taking time for myself and giving focus to different areas of my life including family, friends, health and hobbies!

​​🧠 Focus and being intentional is something I’ve began to prioritize heavily. I’ve always been a busy bee taking in all the opportunities that have come my way. However, I've come to realize the importance of narrowing down my priorities and dedicating myself wholeheartedly to a couple of key things.

Where are you located?

📍 San Francisco, California

Joining The Commons 🤝

What was behind your decision to join The Commons?

When I joined The Commons, I was at a point in life where I was figuring out my next steps and personal development. After a short stint in San Francisco, meeting people in tech, I wanted to find a community of people in or shifting into the tech space in Vancouver. My goal was simple: meet like-minded people, build connections, and learn together. I was excited about the Sprints and small discussion groups, perfect for learning from others and contributing my bit. The Strategy & Operations Sprint, in particular, seemed like a great opportunity to brush up on some skills and learn new ones to support my new role.

I thought it was the perfect place for community but also learning opportunities. I remember talking to a couple people before I joined my Sprint and they had told me The Commons has a lot to offer depending on the time and effort you want to contribute. I deeply resonate with that and will echo that to anyone looking to join! It’s really on you on how you want to shape your experience. Putting yourself out there and contributing to the community makes your experience worth it.

What other aspects of the community have you found helpful?

There is always something going on in The Commons. They’re so good at hosting different types of events and workshops, whether it’s an intimate circle group, writer’s group or an in person meetup. It’s a nice way to explore new things you maybe haven’t got to before and meet new people through similar experiences. One of the most valuable aspects of this community has been the people I've met along the way. Through my Sprint and other workshops, I've had the pleasure of connecting with amazing individuals who have become great friends. With many of my friends, we shared our goals and what we wanted to work on, and we became accountability buddies to checkin on each other (and we still do)!

Career Journey 🗺️

Tell us about your new role at Respell 🤖

Company Overview: Respell enables anyone to build AI workflows to automate their business, without code. Businesses can save massive amounts of time with modern AI tooling, but this tech needs a large amount of work to productionize. Respell bundles all the tools and AI models you need to go from problem to full automation in a few minutes.

Your Role: BizOps Lead

What You Do: The scope of my role is pretty broad, as expected being at an early stage startup. I touch on almost every aspect of the business including day-to-day operations, marketing, go-to-market strategy, user experience, product development and hiring! My days are always very different, something new will get put on my plate and a lot of the time I will just have to figure it out without any guidelines. The ambiguity and context switching is challenging but also really fun and I have deeply been enjoying it. I feel like a sponge, learning something new everyday, I have definitely learnt immensely just in the past few months.

Where You Found the Role: I knew for a while I wanted to work for a startup so I was searching rigorously through Wellfound, Y Combinator jobs, other startup/ tech newsletters and The Commons private #job-openings Slack channel! A friend in the VC space reached out to me regarding this job and thought I’d be the perfect fit. Within a week of this intro I was working for Respell! Things move real quick in early stage startups.

Key Learnings: One thing I've learned during my job hunt is to be patient and trust the process. If you face rejection, it's probably for the best – that opportunity might not have been the right fit for you, but the perfect one is still out there, waiting for you to grab it. I know how it feels when you get excited during the interview process, thinking "this is it!", and then, after investing so much time, you end up not getting the job. It can be disheartening, no doubt. But hey, I've been there – countless coffee chats and interviews before landing this role.

I wanted to make sure it was genuinely the right fit for me. So, staying positive was key. Don't see it as a setback if things aren't working out – it's just guiding you to where you truly belong. This might sound cheesy, but it’s true!

Throughout your career so far, what has driven you to pivot roles & industries?

I would say the biggest push for me was curiosity and getting outside of my comfort zone. I’m a generally curious person and always wanting to challenge myself, which is why I’m usually dabbling in more than 1 thing at once. Already in my career, I’ve worked in three very different industries: Retail, Real Estate and Tech. I have learned immensely and a lot of the skills have been transferable.

How has your thinking around your career path changed over time?

As I navigated through school and contemplated my career path, I was initially overwhelmed by the prevailing notion that you must choose a single path and stick to it. The idea of pursuing a linear trajectory seemed restrictive, and I thought that switching roles or industries would slow my career progression.

My perspective has definitely evolved over time, and I have come to realize that the opposite is true. Nothing is permanent and you’re not bound by one choice or one career stream, you’re allowed to change your mind and pursue something completely different. Embracing diverse roles has actually accelerated my growth and learning. As I started working and pursued my interests, I grew out of that traditional narrative and focused on learning instead. This shift in mindset has completely transformed my outlook and brought many amazing opportunities my way.

Any advice for people looking to land their next role?

Many people, including my friends, often feel scared to leave their current jobs or make a career pivot, even if they dislike them or have outgrown them. I see them get stuck in this loop of "what ifs." If there’s anything I’ve learnt in this process, it's essential to go after what you truly want without dwelling on all the reasons why you "can't" do something. We're all creatures of habit, and stepping out of our comfort zone can be scary, but that's where the magic happens – that's when we learn and grow the most.

Sure, some might see startups or new career moves as risky. I’ve come to the realization nothing is ever certain. So, why not take that leap of faith and give it your all in pursuing that pivot or new career you want to take.

Something fun to end it off 🎉

Tell us some of your favorites

🎙 Podcast: Huberman Lab

✏️ Place to Source Jobs: Y Combinator 

📚 Book: Atomic Habits

🎨 What You Do Outside of Work: Going to farmer’s markets or finding a new local cafe 

🌟 Leader You Admire: Michelle Obama 

💬 Inspiring Quote: “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure" - The Alchemist

➕ Handy Shortcut: ChatGPT anything 

Ready to take the next step in your career? Apply to the Strategy + Operations Sprint to learn valuable skills for operations roles and learn from mentors who are rising stars in tech.

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