Top 40 Under 40 – Aliya Mohamed

Top 40 Under 40 – Aliya Mohamed

Aliya Mohamed - Top 40 under 40

Community is woven into the fabric that is TransLink. After all, bringing the people and places of Metro Vancouver together is the foundation of what we do. Our promise is to put you – our customer first – your safety, your time, and your connection to the people and places that matter the most.

So it comes as no surprise that TransLink’s Director of Public Affairs, Aliya Mohamed, was named one of this years Business in Vancouver Top 40 under 40.

Aliya is a tenacious, results-focused big-picture thinker who hustles as hard after hours as she does during peak. Giving back is one of her core values which she achieves through her work within the Ismaili Muslim Community. “I’m currently supporting Ismaili Civic 2.0, offering non-profits free-of-charge consultancy support from our community’s professionals. I’m also thinking about how to increase Ismaili civic engagement, especially in governance and policy. Within TransLink, I’m working towards formalizing the many ways we give our time and resources to the communities we serve.”

The Buzzer caught up with Aliya to learn a little bit more about what makes her tick, and her thoughts on being named Business in Vancouver’s Top 40 Under 40.

What does it mean to you to be awarded the Top 40 Under 40 honours?

I’m humbled, and proud to show that perseverance pays off. The work doesn’t stop here – I’ve got big ambitions for the next decade, too.

How did you get started in your career with TransLink?

Through my network. I returned to Vancouver after a decade in government, politics and global leadership, and was supported by a long-time friend and mentor, Bridgitte Anderson, CEO of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. She introduced me to Steve Vanagas, TransLink’s VP of Customer Communication and Public Affairs, who was rebuilding TransLink’s Media team, and with the talented team at TransLink, we are enhancing trust in the organization and delivering an excellent customer experience.

How has TransLink had to pivot over the course of the pandemic?

As an essential service, we’ve had to keep running and every team has had to refocus on responding to the pandemic. I lead the Public Affairs team now and our mandate is to build relationships with communities – from Indigenous communities, individual customers, to BIAs, and governments at all levels. This work usually involves meeting in person, attending events and shaking hands – we’ve had to take all this work online. It’s been an adjustment, but through webinars, zoom engagements, and good-old-fashioned phone calls, we’ve kept connected to our customers and stakeholders, and shared how TransLink is keeping people moving safely.

Is there a specific experience that led you to where you are today?

I learned a lot about leadership working for the former Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. Leading his Tour and Operations team, I saw how he developed a result-driven team by trusting staff to do their jobs, and giving them room to make mistakes and grow from those experiences.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

TransLink’s laser focus on the customer, and our ability to innovate. Every day we strive to deliver the best customer experience – one that’s reliable, easy and fun. I love seeing colleagues bring new ideas to the table, that they’re able to advance with the support of our senior leaders, so that we pull off ingenious solutions to complex problems.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Prioritizing all those good ideas! I’m privileged to lead a creative team, and one of my key responsibilities is making sure we’re doing as much as we can, with the resources we have, to deliver the best possible customer experience. Sometimes that means good ideas have to simmer. Obviously during COVID, we’ve had to refocus most of our 2020/21 plans.

Accomplishment you’re most proud of and why?

Recommending that His Highness the Aga Khan address Canada’s Parliament at the culmination of the historic deal to afford the Ismaili community ambassadorial status in Canada. Prime Minister Harper always empowered his staff to make recommendations, and, as a proud Ismaili Muslim, I appreciate him acting on this suggestion. His incredible leadership around his government’s relationship with His Highness and the Ismaili community writ large was of profound significance and helped us continue to make monumental gains in Canada. Watching the address was a truly inspirational moment for me, and Aga Khan’s message of pluralism, tolerance, respect, peace and most notably giving back resonated then and rings true for me everyday.

Best advice/tip/best practice to share from your area of expertise?

Keep your head down, work hard, demonstrate your abilities and the rest will follow.

Why do you like being a part of the public transit industry?

We’re in the business of making people’s lives easier and empowering them to move around freely, in ways that are cost-effective and green. What’s not to love?

Who inspires you?

My parents and grandparents. They came to Canada with absolutely nothing, were welcomed with open arms, and worked tirelessly to feed, clothe and educate my sister and I. Now it’s our turn to give back to them.

What words do you live by?

Live life with love, humility and happiness.

Favourite hobbies:

Getting outside to run, cycle and hike. Reading and sharing what I’ve learned. Goal setting and daydreaming

Fun fact:

I scuba dive and plan my trips around this hobby – I’ve been to Barbados, Thailand, and cave diving in Mexico, and seen amazing underwater views. Already planning the post-pandemic trip!

When Aliya’s not tackling the next best strategy for delivering a top-notch customer experience on transit, or giving back to her local community, she can be found on Twitter and Instagram. Thanks Aliya for taking time out of your busy day to share with us.