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Zahra Al-Harazi

Award-Winning Entrepreneur | Purpose-Driven Leadership Expert

Zahra Al-Harazi
Journey to Entrepreneurship
Virtual: Braving the Wilderness
Unbranded Me: TEDxCanmore
Zahra Al-Harazi
Journey to Entrepreneurship
Virtual: Braving the Wilderness
Unbranded Me: TEDxCanmore

The road to real leadership is rarely a straight one. Among Canada’s most successful entrepreneurs, few have faced more obstacles than Zahra Al-Harazi. With a no-holds-barred attitude, Al-Harazi helps people and organizations realize their potential for success through finding their purpose. She draws on her experience as a pioneering woman in the business world with a unique approach to attitude, leadership, and success, as well as her experience as a refugee, immigrant, entrepreneur, and community-builder.

A survivor of two civil wars, Al-Harazi immigrated to Canada with her three children in 1996. She had no higher education or connections and very little understanding of the business world, but her entrepreneurial spirit quickly led her to start her first company Foundry Communications, an internationally recognized Canadian creative powerhouse. Al-Harazi details her incredible journey in her bestselling book, What It Takes.

Today, Al-Harazi is co-founder of the startup, Skillit, a marketplace for sharing knowledge and building skills. She is also a consultant who has worked with thousands of leaders on employee engagement, navigating disruption, leading change, shifting stakeholder values, corporate social responsibility, and brand transformations.

In recognition of her many accomplishments, Al-Harazi has been named one of Calgary’s Top 40 Under 40, Woman Entrepreneur of the Year by Chatelaine magazine, and one of Canada’s 100 most powerful women by WXN. She has also received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for contributions to Canada and the RBC Top 25 Immigrants to Canada Award and is a former Canadian Ambassador to UNICEF.

As a speaker, Al-Harazi has spoken to audiences in more than 20 countries, inspiring leading institutions such as Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs, government agencies, and professional organizations. Her clients have included The Royal Bank of Canada, Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Ernst & Young, Young Presidents Organization, WXN, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Great West Life, Telus, University of Toronto, and the Government of Canada, among many others. Her specialty is in understanding the complexities required for building a smart, skilled multi-generational workforce.

Speaking topics

Presentations listed below include in-person and virtual keynotes, as well as workshops, fireside chats, and other presentation formats.

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Client reviews

  • Zahra’s presentation was VERY well received. We had many comments right after the session and they are still coming in. They thought that her message was very powerful, she was relatable and a wonderful keynote speaker. Thank you again for the great suggestion.

  • It was a pleasure having Zahra speak and engage with our leadership team. Her storytelling capabilities are as extraordinary as the life experiences she has had. She was very authentic in her approach and kept the message clear and on point. I walked away with several great take-aways that will support the ongoing growth in my leadership journey.

  • Zahra Al-Harazi’s magical personality shines through every word she speaks. The keynote she delivered for 350 young women at the JA Southern Alberta World of Choices Career Exploration event was warm, informative, and highly inspirational. Her insight into how people can harness their passion and overcome obstacles to become, and remain, successful is as refreshing as it is powerful. She is an amazing and engaging speaker. The audience becomes wrapped up in her message of perseverance and hope!

  • Zahra was committed, gracious, cooperative, and very easy to work with. The Launch event in 2012 was the most well-attended event in WIPP’s history. We feel this is thanks, in no small part, to Zahra’s compelling personal and professional accomplishments… Zahra’s powerful story of determination, spirit, and will to follow her dreams to a path of exceptional success, was inspirational and compelling to our audience. Our WIPP donors are still talking about the impact she made. One of the guests attending commented, “Her message resonated with all of the women in the room.”

  • Zahra’s keynote was nothing short of amazing. All of the advice that she shared with the audience was simple to understand, but by taking her advice and applying it to your day to day life, you knew that you can have a big impact on your path to success. Students and academic leaders in the crowd, were absolutely astounded by her story, one that received a standing ovation from every single individual in the crowd after her last words were said. With just over half of all the students involved in our program being females, Zahra served as an ideal role model for our female student leaders — as well as the males — one that they inspire to emulate. Through feedback from the audience afterwards, you could feel that everyone was energized, inspired, and motivated to overcome any obstacle, tackle any challenge, and achieve anything they put their mind to.

  • Not only does Zahra have a compelling story, but she has a very humble and connective way of telling it. From the moment she started her speech, I could tell the audience was engaged, involved, and wanted to hear more. She injected humor when needed, remained serious when the story got intense, and wasn’t afraid to share everything with the group. Zahra has a real message to tell, and makes sure to include lessons learned and expressly focus on the take home value inherent to her experiences.

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