Meet Ahad Al-Hakim, 35, director of operations & HR at PolyAnalytik Inc., and one of our 20 Under 40 Class of 2021 recipients
A REFUGEE AND first-generation immigrant, Ahad Al-Hakim earned her BSc degree from Western University and advanced laboratory technology diploma from Fanshawe College, and since 2011 has been an integral part in helping analytical and validation services firm PolyAnalytik Inc. expand. Working to improve efficiency of sales and operations, as well as raising over $500,000 annually in grant funding to support R&D efforts for the organization, she has overseen all HR efforts to support the operation’s expansion from two employees to 20 scientists and engineers. A dedicated community-builder, she has immersed herself in several local organizations and initiatives, including taking an active and ongoing role with Immploy to help local employers connect with skilled immigrant talent.
What would you call your biggest business achievement, and why?
My biggest business achievement is to be as invested in the organization I serve, PolyAnalytik Inc., as I did when I first started just after my convocation, a decade ago. I often say, regardless of where you are and what you do — whether you work at an office or in a very hands-on technical position — it is up to you to make the most of out of it. From my windowless office at the Western Research Park, I was able to create meaningful connections, volunteering opportunities, collaborations and partnerships with numerous local and regional organizations and institutions.
What about your biggest obstacle — and how did you tackle it?
The biggest business obstacle has been to adapt to a growing organization and its business needs with only a science undergraduate degree. Not learning the basics of business structure and acumen has been extremely difficult; however, I am thankful for the leadership I find myself among at PolyAnalytik Inc. I was given the opportunity to expand my network and learn the ins and outs of business by tapping into our local and regional resources.
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What’s left for you to do — personally or professionally?
I am very excited to start a new journey in my professional career in 2022. I will be starting my EMBA program in May 2022. I am both excited and anxious about starting this part-time journey. On a personal level, and if the pandemic taught us anything, it would be to never take travel for granted. I will spend my vacations travelling; I love being introduced to different cultures!
What’s the best movie or show you’ve watched this year?
This may sound out of the ordinary, but my family and I truly enjoyed Encanto. We were fortunate enough to see it in the big screen before the most recent lockdown. I think it was the combination of being able to be in the theatre after two years and the fact that the movie’s storyline was well written — it truly spoke to each of our family members. We had great discussions with our youngsters on our ride back home discussing the uniqueness of every person. Interview by Kieran Delamont