Zahra Al-Harazi

Zahra Al-Harazi

Award-Winning Entrepreneur | Purpose-Driven Leadership Expert

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 is currently co-founder of the startup, Skillit, which is 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.

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.

Al-Harazi is a former Canadian Ambassador to UNICEF. She currently sits on the board of directors for The Walrus, and is the author of What it Takes, published January 2020.


What It Takes: A Story of Purpose, Strength, and Laughter

Today, Zahra Al-Harazi is a successful entrepreneur, a loud crusader for human rights, and a sought-after speaker. Her voice is clear and confident and a powerful tool of commerce and philanthropy. But this was not always the case.

Al-Harazi was raised in a country where women didn’t have a voice. Growing up, her goal was to stand out as little as possible. In 1996, she moved to Canada, where, as a new immigrant and young mother with no understanding of the culture or business world and no higher education, she had little confidence in what she had to say. But, through perseverance, she managed to find her voice.

In this inspiring presentation, Al-Harazi shares her journey — how she channeled frustration into courage, the mistakes she’s glad she made, the milestones that propelled her, and how a clear and powerful voice can help anyone get what they want most in life.

Becoming a Design-Driven Company

Tomorrow’s business winners — regardless of size or industry — will be the ones that know how to combine creativity, scale, and agility.

Drawing from her journey to becoming one of Canada’s top designers and creativity experts, Zahra Al-Harazi shows audiences how to leverage the full power of design across business to become a “design-driven” company. She provides a simple yet powerful framework to help spark creative endeavours and drive transformational growth, on both a personal and organizational level.

Smart, uplifting, and counterintuitive, this keynote will change the way you think about creativity, innovation, and the path to success.

The Power of Purpose

Your brand is a reflection of your organization’s culture and that culture is the reflection of your purpose, daily habits, and values. It’s this that guides your employees and teams. In this presentation, Zahra Al-Harazi proves that the key to building great companies lies in how you enable learning, skills, opportunity, and connection. She shows audiences:

  • How to discover the reason your organization exists, and how you will survive in a world that is constantly changing.
  • How to understand the cultural DNA of all your diverse stakeholders, and how to uncover and maximize the powerful strengths of your people and their talent
  • How to empower people and foster connections within your organization that will incentivize and motivate your teams.
  • How to reverse engineer purpose into your DNA in an authentic and meaningful manner.
  • How to harness the power of purpose in order to create compelling brand propositions for a new generation of socially-aware employees, consumers, and clients.

Drawing on powerful stories of extraordinary organizations who have learned to build, shape, and unlock their purpose, Al-Harazi will leave you with practical strategies to effectively understand, lead, and motivate your team; move your business to the forefront; and lead by example.

Dreamer to Maker

To build the life we’re meant to live, it takes more than ability or luck — it takes the right mindset. Today, it’s more important than ever to be a learner, to be able to teach yourself new skills, new ways, and new approaches.

In this keynote, Zahra Al-Harazi — co-founder of the startup, Skillit, a disruptor of how we educate, what we teach, and how we learn — outlines key insights from the new science of motivation and learning to guide audiences through a journey of building resilience and grit, and why adopting a growth mindset is they key to success in today’s fast-paced world.

Using evidence from large-scale behavioral experiments, and new findings from science and the business world, Al-Harazi guides audiences through a journey of resilience, a thicker skin, a better attitude, and an openness to learning and change.