May 1, 2020
Latin for Agile, “Agilis” defines the everyday Executive pursuing extraordinary goals. We launch our Executive article series with a humbling story of an Extra(ordinary) Executive (“EE”), who persevered through challenges and obstacles many of us have only read about. This EE’s personal and professional journey illustrates intuition, resilience and agility; traits we often neglect to showcase to our colleagues, our clients, and ourselves. Sometimes, humility prevents us from highlighting an exceptional skill or talent to others. In the case of our EE, the opportunities to highlight his talents to achieve rewarding career opportunities were far and few. But, he chose patience and character over competition…and won playing the long game.
Our EE immigrated to Canada in 1970, leaving the comfort of a large family and an inherited opportunity to run a successful family business. Canada called, and he took a risk to embark on a journey that would offer him professional growth and personal achievements far beyond what he ever intended to explore. Gifted in mathematics, our EE enjoyed multiplying triple digits in his mind, with a timer to challenge himself. During the days, he pursued a Bachelor’s degree at the University of Alberta, while washing dishes overnight at local restaurants, earning his rent and saving what was left for tuition. Ultimately, life had other plans for our EE, who had to leave University prior to graduation, with a mere four courses short of completing his computer sciences degree.
Nonetheless, our EE challenged himself in a full-time role delivering exquisite China dishes to local shops across Edmonton. He prided himself on establishing credibility and trusting relationships with his clients quickly. Enjoying his role, our EE spent his free time memorizing inventory numbers to keep his mental math skills at its peak. It was sadly short-lived, as our EE was delivered the sad news of the organization’s closure. He was aggressive in his search for new employment, and his down-to-earth personality and natural intellect secured him a role with a starter energy company in payroll, notwithstanding the initial request for a University degree. Our EE was in his element for years, completing tasks well ahead of requested deadlines. It was at this time our EE chose to pursue building a dream home for his family, rewarding his tenacity in achieving a career goal. He spent his free time at his home site, hour after hour walking through a house he envisioned back in 1970 that he would one day own.
Unfortunately, and within three months of moving into his new home, our EE was given the sad news of his position abolishment; leaving a role of janitorial services available for him to consider. Our EE did not waste time in securing new employment; accepting and working three different roles with three different organizations, back-to-back, over 24 hours. Working twenty hours a day to ensure security for his family, and a commitment to remaining in the home he had prided himself in building, this was our EE’s reality for several years.
Opportunity then came knocking for our EE to tap into his entrepreneurial spirit. He took a risk and purchased two gas stations, which he successfully owned and managed for ten years, taking him to retirement. But, our EE insisted there was more for him to accomplish and learn. He decided to enjoy his days at home, while working at nights with a not-for-profit organization, supporting an addiction treatment center. Tapping into his natural ability to connect with people, he became a role model and a coach for clients and peers at the center. He shared knowledge, enthusiasm and optimism to encourage a mind-set of positivity and accomplishments. Our EE had developed thought leadership through his journey, with a humble recognition that his obstacles developed his character, and strengthened his resilience.
Two years ago, an unfortunate slip on ice resulted in a minor concussion for our EE. He has thankfully recovered, and is now challenging himself with online learning opportunities during his retirement. This year, our EE celebrates 50 years in Canada. As he tracks and memorizes COVID-19 statistics globally, he feels privileged to be a part of a united society. We watch him offer virtual and unconditional support to individuals he has never met, encouraging them to find the strength to persevere.
This Extra(ordinary) Executive is my father. Subhash C. Khullar, Retired (but not tired).
An Executive is present within all of us, irrelevant of status, title or pay grade. Let’s continue to learn from each other’s journeys; commit to being agile in circumstances beyond our control; and find the ordinary in our extraordinary.
How do you measure success?
-Written by Reena Khullar, Founder & CEO