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 Rocky. Rocky Ozaki is the co-founder of NoW of Work Inc. and the NoW-Academy. When he isn’t helping companies and startups to future proof, you’ll find him hanging out with his nine-year-old daughter, cooking with his crockpot or exploring the streets of Vancouver.
We recently caught up with Ozaki to learn more about his new company and how he got started.
Can you tell us about the NoW of Work Inc and the NoW Academy?
I am the founder of two companies. One is called the NoW of Work Inc., and the other is called the Now Academy. Through these two organizations, I help people and companies to future proof. We live in exponential times, and that can be stressful for people. I help organizations navigate this change by becoming more innovative and naturally agile so they can embrace the future.
What do you enjoy most about the work you do?
I work with a lot of C-Suite executives, so I get to sit in a lot of executive boardrooms and educate people about the future of work. I teach them about how being innovative, more collaborative, and working within an ecosystem (and not a silo) can change the way they attract and retain talent. I really enjoy that “a-ha” moment that happens when I am teaching.
When you’re living in Vancouver with a nine-year-old daughter, you start to change as a parent, right? She came into the world, and I’ve started thinking about stuff like, what is her job going to be? Can she afford to buy a house in Vancouver? These are real questions, right? The world is moving so fast, and Canada is falling behind.
When I can help compel people at an executive level to be more innovative and take more risks, that is super powerful because I know it will have an impact across the organization. Watching the companies I work with modernize faster, that’s probably the biggest reward that I get. I love that.
How did you get into this kind of work?
I was an executive HR and operations leader before I ever got into the tech space. So until 2010, I was in enterprise. I started seeing what was happening in Silicon Valley, and that’s when I made the pivot into tech and began to focus on the people and innovation side of things.
I’m unique because I have been in an executive role in major organizations with thousands of employees, and then I pivoted and started to work in startups. I’ve had my own startup, worked with scaleups, worked with innovation ecosystems at all of our hubs around the country and beyond, and now I use all the experience and all those lenses. Having worked in both the enterprise and startup world deeply reinforced that I have the ability to bridge the two worlds.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
To have a career like mine, you’ve got to be open-minded, you’ve got to be able to absolutely challenge the status quo, and you have to be resilient. If you don’t passionately believe in it, you’re going to have so many naysayers who are going to pull you down, so I just believe it. I practise it, and I believe it, and if you’re not part of our tribe that’s fine, I am going to keep going. Having that resilience and believing in it is what I would say to encourage anyone doing what I do.
What is one word that describes you and why?
I am passionate. I am passionate about my role as a father. I am passionate about my role as a husband. I am passionate about my role in this world like I am passionate about what I do. I never go in and do things half-assed. I am constantly asking myself: How I am better? A better dad? A better husband? A better business? A better person! What I preach about I am passionate about. I don’t go up there on stage in front of people and say, well, I think you should probably do this. I am like, you should f—king do this!
Can you speak to the value of mentorship?
The value of mentorship is priceless. I’ve circumvented a lot of mistakes and learning due to mentorship in my life. People talk about failing fast and failing forward, but you’ve got to take calculated failures, too, so where mentorship has helped me is using the wisdom of others to help guide me. Not necessarily make my decisions, but to help me choose a path. There is a certain value I place on experience, so I have always believed in that.
What do you love about the OKGNtech community?
I love that this community knows who they are. Who cares about other big tech centres, because you know who you are! The whole tech space is so good at democratization anyway. Anyone can win, and if the future is ecosystem driven and we have to work in collaboration to solve problems together and all that then in many cases the smaller jurisdiction can move faster. That’s what I love about the Okanagan community. It’s that you guys just get s—t done, right!? And it’s very clear who you are! You know your values!
What is something that people don’t know about you?
When I was 10 months old, I was thrown out of the car going 60 kilometres an hour. My older three-year-old brother pushed me up to help me see out the window, and I fell out, and if it weren’t for a BC Tel truck cutting off traffic—because he saw me flying out—then I would have gotten run over! I ended up in ICU for a week, and I got off just fine. The doctors said because you are so soft and pliable—and since your spinal cord hasn’t connected yet to your brain—you won’t do damage to your nerves and all that because it hasn’t seized yet! That doesn’t actually happen until around two or three years old. So you have until then to jump out of buildings and s—t.
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