Qasim Rasi

Top 40 Under 40 2016

Photography Curtis Comeau

Age: 39

Job Title: Director, Strategic Markets, ATB Financial

Why He’s Top 40: He brings a diverse background of academia, Hollywood and business knowledge to ATB where he supports Alberta’s manufacturing industry.

Unexpected Hobby: “I’m a big Call of Duty fan and I watch games live at home. I know I’d waste too much time [if I picked up a controller].”

Today, everyone knows Qasim Rasi as “Q,” the multifaceted entrepreneur. But his childhood was very different.

Q left Kabul, Afghanistan in 1989 with his two sisters and parents, seeking refuge in India away from civil war. He quickly learned English and Hindi, and how to help other refugees as an interpreter. 

Years later, the Canadian Embassy in New Delhi called upon his skills. Rasi recalls: “They needed a local interpreter who not only understood the language, but also the culture.”

As a 21st birthday present for Q, the embassy gave him and his family plane tickets to Vancouver to start a new life.

For two years, he worked night shifts at 7-Eleven while also doing undergraduate science studies at Simon Fraser University. Eventually, he moved to Edmonton to get married; he worked as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Alberta. 

He found his way back into the classroom as a business student.

A game-changing opportunity came from the Alberta School of Business, which asked Q to lead Entrepreneurship@UAlberta, which guides students through entrepreneurship.

Always questioning how to make things better, an idea came to Q while watching TV one night leading to him co-founding (formerly called Covet). This venture connected him to Hollywood fashion and TV – things he previously knew nothing about, but he conquered the steep learning curve very quickly.

Similarly, at ATB he works with manufacturing and franchising companies, industries he only had basic knowledge of when he started earlier this year. Now he’s impacting the industry by making Alberta-based companies more resilient.

“All those experiences intersect and give you that aha moment: maybe I did all that stuff because now it serves the purpose for me to do this.”

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