July 17, 2019
Hamoon Ekhtiari (BMath ’09, MAcc ’09) sticks to his vision and brings bold ideas to life.
Hamoon Ekhtiari (BMath ’09, MAcc ’09) sticks to his vision and brings bold ideas to life.By Celena Alcock Office of Advancement
Hamoon Ekhtiari (BMath ’09, MAcc ’09) is no stranger to embracing change and making ideas become reality, having worked across multiple sectors and disciplines. Upon graduating from Waterloo, Hamoon worked at Deloitte as a management consultant, built and raised $1M for a social enterprise from the ground up, and became the Founding Director for Studio [Y] at MaRS Discovery District, one of the world's largest urban innovation hubs. After that, he joined TELUS as the Director of Strategy & Innovation before making the decision to leap into entrepreneurial life.
His company, Audacious Futures, partners with executives and organizations to reimagine the future and bring bold ideas and breakthrough innovations to life. Their projects range from the future of work and education, to the future of technology and humanity, to the future of philanthropy and government.
Their latest venture, FutureFit AI, is a GPS for your career that uses AI to help enterprises and governments upskill people for future jobs. It has been selected by the US Department of Education as a winning innovation, reimagining the future of work and learning. It also won TD’s $1M Ready Challenge Prize and was selected by Google AI as a Global Finalist among 2,600 applicants.
Hamoon is a public speaker, a member of the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference, a Canada Millennium Scholar, and the proud recipient of two Young Alumni Awards from 2013 and 2016.
Alumni Relations met up with Hamoon to ask him some questions and talk about life after Waterloo.
The most challenging aspect of my career is:
Telling my immigrant parents, my extended family on the other side of the world, and even my 100% Canadian brother and his friends what I actually do.
If I were to change professions, I would:
Be an astronaut
The last thing I Googled was:
SEINO Holdings TYO
An entrepreneur is:
At its best, a purposeful innovator with bold humility — purposeful in that you have a clear vision for the kind of world you want to create, innovator in being a creative problem solver who thinks of every problem as a treasure, and bold humility in that you believe in the seemingly impossible yet always remember that it’s never just about you and you never have all the answers. At its worst, a frivolous pursuit of a higher valuation where money becomes the destination rather than the fuel.
The most rewarding aspect of being an entrepreneur is:
1) Building something from nothing that people actually find value in, and hopefully makes a difference in their lives
2) Having to overcome your own self-doubt day after day after day
3) Controlling your own schedule — spending the morning with high-powered executives and the afternoon at the beach
One word to sum up the culture in my office is:
One piece of advice I'd give young alumni is:
Don’t edit your dreams to fit the requirements of friends, family, or society.
On the day I graduated, I wish I'd known:
To prioritize relationships over work, every time and all the time.
My first job after graduation was:
Working as a management consultant at Deloitte — a job I wasn’t qualified for on paper, though that streak has held up for every single job I have ever held.
The worst job I've ever had was:
Factory-line-style Christmas gift wrapping! There are a lot of things I am really bad at in life, but that one is definitely up there. I’m pretty sure I got fired after a couple of hours.
My funniest Waterloo memory is:
While I claim zero responsibility for either of these, I once thought it was a good idea for us to go down every floor of Dana Porter and turn off various lights at night (during exams no less!) to get a particular pattern for a picture from outside. I might have also jumped off stage during my convocation, but nobody knows for sure.
The most ridiculous fact I know is:
The names of all 11 parishes in Barbados
Being a recipient of a past Young Alumni Achievement Award means:
That I wasn’t good enough for the Adult version? Just kidding.
Honestly, it means that I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by people who believe in me. It means a great deal to me to be recognized by an institution that I’ve always admired and that is admired by many globally.
If I could have dinner with anyone in the world deceased or alive it would be:
Elon Musk, hands down. He is basically the personification (personal life aside) of what Audacious Futures is all about and the type of world we are trying to build.
My favourite movie is:
Wag the Dog
What I hope to be doing when I retire is:
I have never quite understood the idea of retirement — too often, we delay purpose, pleasure, and philanthropy until that magical day when we retire. I’m increasingly a believer that we need to do our life’s work, enjoy the world’s pleasures, and give in every way we can at every step along the way. So, I guess, my answer is that I hope to live my ‘retirement’ every day of my life.