In Conversation with Saeid Fard
“Immigrating to Canada as a child I had this idea of what success looked like, and I pictured someone in a suit,” Saeid says. “I went into the hardest programs to get into, and ended up working in consulting and investment banking.”
Although Saeid has always been fascinated with tech and design, uncertainty of the field had him focused on business instead.
“My first career was a horrible fit for me personality-wise, it tickled the intellectual curiosity to some degree…but it was hands-off,” he says. “I just had a really deep dissatisfaction with my life.”
Saeid’s concept of a successful person started to morph. He wanted to be challenged intellectually and to be able to explore his creative side. Saeid wanted to build and develop applications.
In Seattle, Saeid found himself a little bit everywhere within Expedia, volunteering to do design work and taking any chance he could to work on the product itself.
Saeid held onto a piece of advice that would resonate with individuals going through similar experiences of change; “You don’t have to make your next move perfect, but it needs to be a step in the right direction.”
At the end of the day, there was still something missing, something that Expedia wasn’t providing for Saeid to fully challenge himself or pique his interest. So Saeid got on a plane straight to Vancouver and found himself joining a startup called Sokanu.
Sokanu was a major building block for Saeid, spending seven years working his way up, learning and growing. From lead designer to president, Saeid became engulfed in the tech industry.
In 2020, Saeid ended his time at Sokanu and founded Dimensional, a mobile app startup.
It is described as a life coach in your pocket, giving users the ability to access personality tests that improve their lives and relationships by going beyond the traditional and limited personality tests that exist today.
“Career testers are interesting, but it’s a very point in time solution,” he says, “It’s applicable to a very narrow slice of people.”
Saeid believes there are more impactful ways to break down personalities and into something more influential in a person’s life, helping them reflect on who they are. “Let’s take a step back and reflect on who we are and tune our lives to it.”
“I would wake up and have the Sunday scaries, those days were miserable, I constantly felt like a fish out of water,” he says. He recalls a moment when a friend told him he had the personality of an artist when they both lived together in Seattle during his Expedia days. For Saeid, this felt odd, as he thought he had been business-focused for so long.
“I never thought of myself as an artist, and I reflected on that,” he says. “Writers, actors, people who are concerned with ideas, those are the kinds of people that I tend to get along with, that’s my tribe.”
Saeid found that intrinsic connections between business and tech pulled out the creative side of him, and also helped him understand the tech world better. “This could be your advantage in life…you have training for your left brain but you’re a right-brain person.”
For students, newcomers in the industry or people who just want to get their foot in the door with coding and tech, Saeid says there are a plethora of opportunities now with the new digital age.
“It’s useful to take some elementary computer science courses…learning the primitives of the theoretical primitives of programming is useful and gives you the upper hand versus people who just know coding and scripting.” Saeid says that if you truly want to build, he would recommend taking college courses to gain a stronger understanding.
“You go to coding boot camp, you learn a lot of stuff about building, and you know the basic things to understand like how recursion works or certain fundamental things,” he said. “People with a more theoretical background, won’t hit a wall, they can keep going and they’ll learn faster.”
Aside from the ease of accessibility to courses within computer science, is there a deeper need for change in the industry? Saeid spoke about the complexity of the industry, how it needs to be better in terms of diversity.
“In Canada, tech is very Asian-centered, both South and East Asian, and while that breaks the traditional mold, it’s still very, very male [centered],” he says. “There’s some diversity, but there needs to be more female candidates applying and in engineering programs. I would say it’s improved but not incredibly.”
While this does exist, Saeid had consistently found himself in physically diverse environments but emphasized the trend in cognitive diversity is usually one sided.
“Engineers tend to be very analytical, very left brain,” he says. “It would be interesting to see how the field evolves but at the moment the industry has very little neurodiversity.”
All in all, Saeid’s array of knowledge and ability to adapt have benefited him in the long run. For people looking to change their path or expand their learning, Saeid is a great example of how a vast amount of skills can help you grow into the individual you wish to be.
“We are still in the early stages of technology and how it can change the world,” he says. “I don’t know what the future is going to look like, but there’s always going to be room for software in our lifetime.”
Writer: Rhea Singh
Editor: Choi David
Photos: Abul Rehman
Styling: Kayla Strong