Welcome to the latest installment of Q&A, our regular series of one-to-ones with some of Greater Vancouver's leading business figures.
Our subject this week is Hillina Ghulam Nabi, Founder and CEO of Kids Innovative.
What inspires you?
I'm inspired by people who go out of their way to make a positive impact in the world. When I see that people from all walks of life can change lives, it drives me to do the same.
What's your earliest memory?
My earliest memory was when I was two years old playing with mud with my sister and a neighbour in Afghanistan.
How do you relax?
I relax by going on adventurous hikes, reaching new heights, immersing myself in a sci-fi book, taking power naps, trying a new recipe, or building a home project out of scratch.
How do you balance work and maintaining a personal life?
By focusing on total balance instead of allocating my time for a work-life balance. I practise this by listening to my intuition and allow myself to take breaks until I feel I can perform. I nurture and cultivate my relationships with my family and close friends to ensure that they are also thriving, and I aim to be 100% present and spend quality time with the ones I care about which restores balance in my life.
What was your first job?
My first job was at Starbucks in Suter Brook Village as a Barista. I enjoyed the experience of working in an enriched cultural organization.
What's your most prized possession and why?
A book that my friend gave me when I was 12 years old. Starting teenage years can be tough, and sometimes you need a different perspective to understand what people are trying to communicate, and that book was it for me.
What keeps you awake at night?
Environmental issues, poverty and unresolved problems. I spend quite a bit of time thinking about viable solutions that can tackle these issues. Lately, it has been about methods of sustainable power by identifying and engineering the next steps of computational science and technology through quantum entanglement.
Who do you most admire and why?
My mom. She has shown me what can be achieved through resilience and compassion, and how to adapt to different environments while maintaining my values. She is relentless and a visionary leader who inspires me to dream big.
What is the biggest challenge you've faced in your career?
When I decided to change careers, twice. I enjoyed the work, made life-long connections, and appreciated the cultures. It can be difficult to learn new technical skills but even more difficult leaving a place that treats you well.
What is the biggest challenge facing Greater Vancouver?
Affordable housing and increased poverty are the biggest challenges facing Greater Vancouver.
What do you like most about doing business in Greater Vancouver?
What I like most about doing business in Greater Vancouver is the network of individuals I work with and the ability to reach diverse people with different perspectives.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement to date?
My greatest achievement was the moment I set foot on the path of entrepreneurship. It started with a passion for helping people by sharing my tips and tricks to become more digitally literate. When I began, I didn't think it would gain traction.
What is the most important lesson, business or otherwise, life has taught you?
Life has taught me to never have any regrets. This means doing something that may be scary at first but knowing that you will not have the 'what-if' thoughts in the long run.
What do you think makes a great leader?
A great leader is one that builds more leaders. They empower and inspire people to have a bold vision and encourage them with trust. Leaders are open-minded about new ideas and welcome feedback that might be tough to hear.
Where is your favourite place in Vancouver?
My favourite places in Vancouver are Stanley Park, Olympic Village and the Seawall. We're very fortunate to live in the most beautiful place on earth.
What do you think Greater Vancouver needs more of?
Greater Vancouver needs a continued focus on underlying issues that are facing the communities in terms of clean energy infrastructure, educational programs, diversity and inclusion, Indigenous people, and poverty reduction.
Who has helped you most in your career?
My family and my mentors have helped me most in my career. I'm empowered when I have my family's support, and my mentors help me learn more from a business perspective.
What do you do when you aren't working?
When I'm not working, I'm developing my skills or focusing on my well-being. I will often take a course, read a book or do some yoga and strength-resistant exercise.
What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?
Despite my resting face, I enjoy laughing and have been known to occasionally pull pranks.
Kids Innovative offers courses in various STEAM fields for children interested in coding and technology.