Mentee Spotlight: Raza Khan, Part 1

learner Story

Meet Raza, a Strategy + Operations Sprint alum and staple in The Commons community

To summarize Raza’s career path in 1 line: Ivey HBA → Lecturer @ Western University (taught 500+ students!!) → Marketing (& Strategy) @ Koodo (subsidiary of TELUS) → Business Operations Associate @ ResQ (Series A startup based in Toronto) → laid off → Business Operations Manager @ Webflow (Series C startup based in SF)

Read on to learn more about why Raza decided to join The Commons, his takeaways from the Strategy & Operations Sprint, and how he likes to stay involved in the community.

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

💪 - I love self improvement, and I think the muscle is the best embodiment of it. You build muscle by 1. Consistency, and 2. Doing harder things. I’ve used that framework in my whole life! I’m hungry, disciplined and always seeking more difficult challenges in my life (and also love working out)

❤️ - I have a lot of love to give to the world and don’t really know how to filter it. This is by far the most used emoji in my life. I’m pretty sensitive and empathetic and lovey

🙋 - I love being involved and doing things. I’m always the first person to have my hand raised / be the first volunteer. No better way to grab life by the horns!

Where are you located?

📍 Currently living in Calgary, although I’m in Toronto for ~3 months of the year (when accounting for total time spent)

Joining The Commons

What was behind your decision to join The Commons?

I originally joined because I didn’t want to leave any stone unturned. When I was at TELUS and trying to pivot into tech, I had five referrals across different orgs and had a killer resume (vetted by 10+ folks). I ended up with 0 interviews. It indicated to me that I was missing something crucial, so I sought to change that. I wanted to tell myself I tried everything in my power before quitting, and The Commons was the next thing to try.

Specifically, what stood out to me was:

  1. The curriculum: being able to learn and reality test important concepts was exactly how I wanted to learn
  2. The Commons founders: they had a ton of relevant experience, were charismatic, and made me feel like this was a no-brainer in my career
  3. The community: people who work where I dream of, and want to help others get to that place. Plus, just amazing human beings all around

Important note: however good I thought it was going to be, I was wrong. The Commons was the best thing I could ever do for my career, and is a massive part of my life – both socially and professionally.

What did you get out of the Sprint? Anything you didn’t expect?

Self confidence: When I first joined, I felt like I didn’t belong and wasn’t smart enough to be a part of this exclusive group. Everyone, however, has been so encouraging, kind and welcoming, and it allowed me to be my true self, and realize I’m good enough the way I am!

Friendships: There are so many people I’ve become a fan of and want to see succeed / hang out with / keep in touch with because of the commons. I’ve hosted 3+ IRL hang outs across two cities, have a group of go-to friends, and just feel like I’m a part of the best community ever. I truly cherish it.

Security: I always know I’m not alone. When I got laid off, or when I deal with difficulty though work, I know I have the people here to reach out to and lean on. It can be personal advice, networking, or interview prep – whatever the use case, there are so many kind and helpful people that want to help.

Now that you’ve finished your Sprint, how do you like to stay involved in the community?

Personally, I find it hard not to be involved in the community. It’s a group of such amazing, curated people, that it’s impossible to not want to message the people and see what’s up.

Personally, I like to

  • Post in #community-advice on Slack –
  • share things I’m going through and get the perspective of the group on how to deal with them (anxiety, stress, dealing with new leadership)
  • Answer any questions I see where I can share my perspective
  • Host sessions – Another community member, Ryan, and I hosted a tech recruiting roundtable session earlier in 2022 and it was such a blast. I want to do more with my career and have sessions like these to help pay it back
  • Host IRL meetups – it’s the perfect mix of making friends, seeing people you already love, and putting names to faces from the amazing folks in the community

What should anyone thinking about joining The Commons know about it?

I just don’t see a world in which this is the wrong decision for you. At the very worst, you join a curated, exclusive community of current and future tech leaders who are incredible, kind, and helpful, with whom you can become friends with, learn from, and potentially score your next job through. At best, you’ll make lifelong friends, learn tangible skills that pay massive dividends in your career, and be plugged into the “what’s happening” in the industry.

Something fun to end it off!

Tell us some of your favorites:

🎙Podcast - For all business folks: strongly recommend the All In podcast! Incredible insight into what’s happening in the economy / investor sentiment / measuring what matters

📚Book - Give and Take: tldr – it taught me that you can actually be a good person and succeed in life, which was something that truly kept me up at night when I was in business school (how will I be successful if I’m myself but competing with my classmates for the same job???)

🎨What you're doing outside of work - Powerlifting ~3-4x a week, training jiu jitsu 1-2x a week, starting to run, and trying to be a better friend to the people I care about. Also, reducing time on technology unless I’m reading manga / watching anime (the most refreshing and inspiring use of time for me!)

🌟 A CEO or leader you admire - Really not just saying this to say it, but I really admire and look up to Vlad Magdalin – the CEO and cofounder of Webflow. At one point, he had two kids at home, a partner who was a homemaker, and was in $30K+ credit card debt trying to make his dream come to life, and flash forward to now he’s the CEO of a $4B startup changing the world giving everyone super powers. He is the living proof that you can be an amazing person and be incredibly successful. I’ve had the pleasure to meet him a few times (and see how he operates firsthand) and he inspires me in every way.

To read more about Raza's career and experience in BizOps in tech, check out Part 2 of our Spotlight with Raza.

Looking to navigate a career in a strategic business role in tech? Join The Commons to learn the skills that will set you apart, meet mentors, and network with 1000+ in business and tech.

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