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Forty Under 40 Award winner Q&A: Hussein Alibhai

This year’s cohort of recipients will be celebrated at an event Feb. 7, 2024

BIV is recognizing Hussein Alibhai, director of inside sales for North America at STEMCELL Technologies, and 39 other exceptional business leaders as part of the 2023 Forty Under 40 Awards cohort.

Longer Q&As with each recipient are included in BIV's annual Forty Under 40 Magazine (out in print Dec. 11). Award winners will be celebrated at an awards gala Feb. 7, 2024.

This profile may have been edited for length and clarity.

What career highlight are you most proud of?

The career highlight I'm most proud of is my involvement with the Michael Cuccione Foundation, where I was voted in as a board member. Gaining the confidence of the board to contribute to steering the foundation into a new era has been extremely gratifying. Collaborating with my fellow board members, I’ve been able to play a pivotal role in shaping the foundation's strategic direction, ensuring its continued impact in supporting children's health.

What was your toughest business or professional decision?

My toughest professional decision was transitioning from the digital marketing space, where I held a wealth of knowledge and expertise, to the life sciences industry. This move felt like a career reset, requiring me to navigate unfamiliar territory. Despite the challenges, I recognized the potential for personal and professional growth. The decision required resilience, adaptability and a willingness to embrace a steep learning curve. Ultimately, this leap allowed me to broaden my skill set and contribute to a field with great societal impact, proving that stepping out of one's comfort zone can lead to unforeseen opportunities.

How do you lead? 

I lead with an agile approach, fostering open communication while tailoring my leadership to each team member's learning style. Emphasizing adaptability, I encourage collaboration and value individual strengths. By understanding and leveraging diverse learning preferences, I try to create an environment where team members can excel. I’ve found that this leadership style promotes innovation but also ensures that each team member feels supported and empowered.

What is the biggest lesson you've learned in business?

A crucial insight gained from my business experience is the significance of engaging stakeholders at the outset of strategic planning. It proves advantageous to include key decision-makers from the inception, allowing them to accompany you on the journey of shaping strategies. This early involvement fosters a collaborative environment and ensures that essential individuals are aligned with the thought process, facilitating the advancement of ideas which leads to a more cohesive and effective business strategy.

Best piece of advice ever received?

The best piece of advice that I've ever received was to maintain a strong learning mindset. Embracing continuous learning is vital in navigating today's dynamic landscape. Staying current calls for a commitment to ongoing education, be it through work experiences, formal education, podcasts, articles or other channels. The journey of seeking knowledge becomes a pillar for professional and personal development.

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

To my 20-year-old self, I'd advise embracing a fearless attitude towards sharing ideas and concepts. Confidence in your creativity is key; don't underestimate the value of fresh perspectives. Not every innovative thought requires years of experience; meaningful ideas often arise from diverse life experiences. In essence, be bold and trust your unique insights, as they can be powerful contributors to innovation.

What's left to accomplish?

There are still many accomplishments yet to be achieved. We live in an ever-evolving landscape that demands continual adaptation and innovation. Remaining competitive requires mastering emerging technologies, cultivating a dynamic corporate culture and navigating global complexities. This creates an environment that poses new challenges to overcome, but with that, a whole new set of opportunities and goals to achieve. I’m always motivated by what’s next and I’m excited for what the future holds.

Is there anyone you would like to thank or acknowledge? 

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my family and friends – they are my unwavering pillars of support and motivation. It is so important to have a strong support system. I've also had the privilege of working with remarkable leaders throughout my career, quite a few to name individually. I extend my heartfelt thanks to each one for their invaluable guidance and mentorship.

Read Q&As with all 40 award recipients here. Tickets to the 2023 Forty Under 40 Awards gala on Feb. 7 are now available.