Self-made entrepreneur Bassem Ghali can be an inspiration to us all. What started out as a side project at work turned into a hard-earned career in the world of search engine optimization. Bassem’s advice? Have courage and try new things! Get his full story in the video.
I moved from Egypt to Canada in 2005. I graduated from the University of Fine Arts with a bachelor’s degree in Architecture. And the whole idea is I wanted to move somewhere new, seek new horizons, and a better future. My career change wasn’t really my plan. It all happened by accident when I first moved to Toronto and I found a job for a graphic designer and branding. And one day while designing the site and putting some marketing ideas, the owner of the company walked in my office and said, Bassem, how can we become the first on Google? And my eyes like, we’re wide open. I’m like, I have no idea. Let me check on it. And I bought a book and within six months we tripled the traffic for the website. And that’s really what sparked the interest in search engine marketing and search engine optimization. I’m like, how come a little few things that you can do to your website can triple your business? How interesting was it to understand how people react online? And the numbers and the conversions were really intriguing to me, and that’s really what got me into this whole search engine marketing.
The interesting part about search engine marketing and search engine optimization, that there is no official education for it. The secret sauce is held by the search engines like Google and Bing. Nobody really comes in the open and says, this is what you should do. So I did a lot of reading. There is a lot of information online, and that’s the power of online. I read and read and read for like three or four years. I couldn’t stop reading. Got a few online certificates, and attended a few big conferences in Atlanta, in California, in New York. So it’s going to see those big players and going to listen to Google Speaker talking and Microsoft Speaker talking on technology and how it’s developed. I think that’s the most important part because it’s an ever-changing industry, so you have to be updated all the time.
You cannot stop reading. You cannot stop learning. After, I think a year working for that small company, I found a job at the Toronto Star for New In Homes to do online marketing and search engine optimization. And I applied for the job, came to the interview. The interview was very friendly and I told a few jokes and I got the job an hour and a half after the interview. So after I took the job at the Toronto Star, I worked there for about two years and a half, and we achieved great results in two and a half years. I think we increased the traffic by almost 3000%. And after that, I was so lucky to be approached by Canadian Tire for a job that I didn’t even apply for. Apparently, they were looking for someone to head the online marketing team for about four months, and they haven’t got any luck.
So one of the internal recruiters reached out to me on LinkedIn and asked me to come for an interview. And that was the highlight of my career. That was the biggest title I ever had. That was the biggest salary I ever had. After two years working for Canadian Tire, I thought it’s time to do it for myself. I worked with the biggest agencies in Toronto. I worked with all the experts, which gave me a lot of exposure. I worked on so many projects and launched so many new products. So I think it really developed my own skills and my own management, project management skill itself. And I said, well, I always wanted to be my own boss.
I don’t think Canada is one of those countries where you suffer from being discriminated against because you’re a new immigrant. Canadian corporations are very respectful and the value of work here in Canada is much appreciated. My advice for newcomers or people about to move to Canada is, really have a lot of courage. It’s not an easy migration process. A lot of the qualifications and the things we rely on in the Middle East don’t work a lot here. So have faith in yourself, and have a belief that you will make it because this country rewards hard workers. So don’t let the first things struggle you and you can’t give up that easily. And you have to pursue your dreams.
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