Our Journey to Canada
Meet Annas Khan, a proud Pakistani-Canadian. Annas is the Marketing Lead (East) for dentalcorp and a sought-after speaker, strategist, and communications professional. As a creative leader and storyteller, he has held many high-level marketing roles at Shopify, Walmart Canada, Adidas, and Jamieson Vitamins. He holds a Master of Management from the Schulich School of Business (York University) and an Executive Leadership in Marketing and Strategy certificate from INSEAD. Annas is involved in his community through volunteer initiatives such as being a Mentor with MAX Muslim Awards for Excellence and being a Mentor for the Schulich Executive Education Centre. While reflecting on his family’s immigration story, this is what she had to say:
My family immigrated to Canada in the early 90s with the mindset of giving their children a better future, leaving behind family, friends, and much more in my home country, Pakistan.
My father did what every father did, and he worked hard to find jobs, study, and persevere despite the hardships to build a career for himself in Corporate Canada. My Dad taught me the importance of setting goals and working towards them irrespective of whatever struggles come through. From juggling being a father to 3 children, a husband, studying, and building his career, this created the foundation of my work ethic and giving 120% to everything I do.
During this time, my Mother pursued her passion for Teaching & Fashion by becoming a Teacher and then later pivoting to focusing on cultural and Islamic Art & Fashion, which she still does today. I saw my Mom learn how to use a computer, a cell phone, a tablet, and different technologies. My Mom taught me the importance of finding joy in learning and always using learning to improve ourselves and the people around us. My Mom’s curiosity instilled in me the desire to try something new and not to be afraid to make a mistake. Every mistake is a learning lesson, and through every opportunity to learn, we improve.
Despite my mom's obstacles and hardships, I always saw her smiling and finding moments of happiness and pride. My parents taught me that the immediate struggle is a big piece of the long-term vision we set for ourselves.
The significance of goal setting, kindness, a desire to discover, and always finding positivity in whatever hardship is in front of me, were some of the critical things I learned as a child and became the foundation of who I am today. Furthermore, my family did not have a lot. My parents built everything they had with what they worked for throughout their lives. Regardless of how much or how little we had, we always found ways to give back to the community. The importance of paying it forward is a huge reason why I love volunteering so much!
I have a personal connection with mentorship and teaching. I try to help young individuals find their voice, build their story, and navigate what is a very challenging time, as with the rise of social media, it can be hard to stay focused or set goals, and easy to compare oneself to others. When I graduated from University in Neuropsychology, I remember thinking I would become a doctor.
Despite having everything set up for me to become a doctor, I did not feel this was my path. I was fortunate enough to have parents who understood my vision and creative side, which led me to a completely different journey that I would have honestly never imagined. I decided to go back to school and complete my Master of Management. I then got an entry-level role at Walmart Corporate, built their first gaming channel, and launched social media for all their stores. Following this, I went on to manage Shopify's marketing and social media, and now the latest at dentalcorp, where I feel I have come full circle and now lead their marketing team within the healthcare sector.
Now, I am a proud mentor to numerous students and proud to have mentored hundreds of students over the past several years. I am active in my community by giving back my time and always finding ways to support and improve future generations.
It has been one incredible ride. A ride that may have never occurred if I did not pursue the silent voice in my head telling me I was meant for something else. A ride that may have never happened if I did not have my parent's support and the foundation they gave me despite not knowing where this path would lead me. Deep down, I knew I had all the right skills to make it happen, be a success, and give back to my family and community.
My advice to newcomers or anyone reading this is:
● It’s not easy, but you can make it easy by setting goals, finding your purpose, and building a solid network of people you can rely on when you need them.
● Ask Questions, and Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I struggled with this a lot but requesting help and asking questions is the only way we can keep moving forward and open the right doors.
● Follow your curiosity and follow what speaks to your heart and gets you excited. It may not be your 9-5 or pay your bills, yet. But, if you have the tenacity, the willingness to pursue, try new things, and constantly be curious, marvelous things will open for you.
● Keep learning. Never ever stop learning, whether it’s a book, a lecture, a video, or talking to someone. Keep learning.
● Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. This is the only way you will move up, come out of your comfort zone, and do what is hard (all of which may help make your life become easy).
I hope this story and the lessons I shared inspire anyone to pursue their goals and make their life here in Canada one that they are proud of and feel in alignment.