Mentor Spotlight: Alex @ Instawork

Mentor Spotlight

Meet Alex, a Mentor at The Commons and General Manager of Instawork.

To summarize Alex's career path in one line: UWO Civil Engineering -> Forensic Engineering -> Rotman MBA -> Strategy & Ops @ Uber -> General Manager @ Instawork

Describe yourself with three emojis

🦫 Curious engineer always repping Canada

📈 Growth-mindset: looking to drive growth at work and personally at all times

👨‍🍳

When I’m not working you’ll often find me in the kitchen refining a recipe or trying something new (work parallel is always building playbooks(similar to recipes) for new processes)

Current role & location?

📍General Manager at Instawork. Based out of Toronto.

What prompted you to transition careers?

Career plateau and slow advancement led me to look for new ways to keep learning and growing.

How did you identify what type of roles and industry you wanted to shift into?

I had a lot of time to coffee chat with people across many different industries and roles while doing my MBA. 

How'd you land your role at Uber?

A referral of course! Shane Parkhill (The Commons mentor & advisor), graciously met me for coffee and shared about his experience and offered to refer!

Now that you've held a few different roles, how has your thinking around career path changed over time?

Lattices not ladders - pre-Uber, I thought careers started at the bottom and slowly climbed the corporate ladder set out by the company. Since then my approach has shifted towards a self-driven career path being more of a lattice with many different types of opportunities including many companies and function types that is by a combination of opportunity, experience and ambition.

And now you've joined us at The Commons! What are your favourite aspects of being a mentor here? 

  1. Mentor community - no need to go through problems alone when there is a highly skilled peer group often struggling with similar experiences.
  2. Recruiting talent - mentoring someone over time gives you 100x the data than a set of short interviews. I’ve been able to make some great hires directly from The Commons.
  3. Stay sharp - The Commons provides a safe space to try new things and practice skills that aren’t always part of day-to-day life at work. 

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

Just do it. Networking at a large event standing in a circle around the industry professional trying to get a thoughtful question in, is a thing of the past. Combine education and networking into one, learning what you need to know from who you need to know - and build lasting relationships instead of fleeting ones.

Tell us more about your role at Instawork! What do you do there?

I’m the General Manager of Canada for Instawork. I own the P&L of the Canadian business, our first international expansion. I’m also building out the playbook to repeat for future international expansions.

Looking back at your work history, what's a cool project you've owned?

  • Project Objective: Crisis Management - Reduce response time to an external crisis such as hurricane/flood
  • Project Overview: Redefine response criteria, action planning, and work with product do develop purpose built tools to improve SLAs.
  • Your Role: Just about everything! Project management, process building, team training, QA, product design & testing.
  • What made it so rewarding? In one major storm, my safety message made it onto Reddit, where a Redditor was thankful that the company was looking out for their safety.

Thinking back on your career journey, what is some advice you'd give to yourself as you were starting out?

Don’t try and do it alone, people are willing to help - you just need to have the courage to reach out.

Any words of advice to people looking to make a similar career transition? 

Career moves are hard, get ready for a journey, don’t be afraid of rejection, network, network, network!

And now, a few fun tidbits about you!

Tell us some of your favourites:

🎙 Podcast: Planet Money, The Indicator, StartUp, The Pitch

📚 Book: Project Hail Mary - Andy Weir - a fun science fiction story that I couldn’t put down

🎨 What you're doing outside of work: Cooking, Hiking, Dog Walking

➕ A handy shortcut: “sheets.new” in the URL bar to quickly build a new spreadsheet. Works with forms, docs, slides

Join our Core Sprint to get 1:1 access to mentors like Alex (and maybe he'll even hire you onto his team)!

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