A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable, and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.
Our community is strong and growing with record speed, and maintaining connections through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic. We’ve got a plan.
Introducing “The Faces of #OKGNtech,” a showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram at @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.
Meet Colin. Colin Basran is the Mayor of Kelowna, BC. When Colin isn’t #mayoring, you’ll find him shuttling his kids to after-school activities (hockey, ballet, dance and soccer), running (even though he hates it!) or playing hockey.
We recently caught up with Colin to learn more about what he loves about OKGNtech and what he is most proud of.
Do you have any advice for someone interested in a job like yours?
“One of the most frequent questions I get asked by kids is what kinds of schooling they need to become the mayor. My answer is always the same. I believe there is no schooling that can prepare you for this job. What you need is a love for your community. At the end of the day, you just have to love what you do and make decisions based on what you believe in your heart and what is in the best interest for the community. There is no amount of schooling that is going to prepare you for that.”
What do you love about OKGNtech?
“It’s the people that we’re attracting here because of the tech community that is so amazing. These people are educated, locally minded, and they’ve got a big appetite for vibrant art and culture. The tech community is really good at embracing disruptive technology, and that’s helping us build a more vibrant and progressive city. I love this vibe that OKGNtech is creating here, and I like the people it is bringing to our community. I want to see this industry grow.”
What is your motto?
“I was a summer student in the City of Kelowna Parks Department in my early 20s. It was one of my first summer jobs. In the greenhouse in the parks department yard was this sign—and I don’t know how or why it ended up there—but it said, ‘He who lives for tomorrow sure missed a good effing time tonight.’ I have always kind of lived by that saying. Have fun, and things will work themselves out, and that’s kind of been a motto that I have lived by. Everything will work out, so just go for it.”
Where does your passion for diversity and inclusion stem from?
“I was fortunate to have been raised by parents and grandparents that were very welcoming. My grandparents actually had a really big impact on my life. To me, they embodied what Canada was meant to be. They came from another country and loved sharing their culture, but they were also open to trying new things and were accepting of other people. I think that my passion for diversity and inclusion comes from my upbringing and that I was part of a family who embraced multiculturalism and difference. At the end of the day, I hope that the work that I have done on the council has made Kelowna a place where everybody feels accepted and welcome regardless of how much money they have, their religion, sexual orientation or the colour of their skin.”
What are some of the things you are most proud of?
“I am most proud of my kids for sure and just seeing how they are growing and the little people that they are becoming. Professionally, I would say seeing the type of community we are becoming. We are more progressive, more inclusive, more diverse than ever.”
What is the best piece of advice you can share?
“Do what you love. Where this really became evident for me was when I was going to school for broadcast journalism, because I was floundering for a number of years, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. And then I got into broadcast journalism at BCIT, and it was two of the best years of my life. I didn’t want to leave school because I was enjoying it so much! If you are stuck in a position that feels like work, and you don’t enjoy it, life is going to be pretty damn miserable, but find something you are passionate about it won’t even feel like work.”
What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a public figure?
“Nothing could have prepared me for the negativity and criticism I face as mayor. People say that you should just develop a thick skin and get past it, but I think that’s easier said than done. What I try to remember is, at the end of the day, I’m in a role that very few people will ever have the opportunity to have, and I love that I get to make a difference in the lives of Kelowna residents every single day. One of our challenges as a municipality is to do a better job of telling that story, communicating our impact and really showcasing the positive changes we are making.”
“I was born and raised in Kelowna, and there is no other place in the world I would rather live. That’s really the reason I do what I do. I have always thought if you are going to be a part of something you might as well get involved and try and make it the best you can. Kelowna was the best place to grow up, and I want to make sure it is an awesome place for my kids to grow up, too.”
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