Daniele, AW’s Contributor, introduces you to Omar, who surprised him for his desire and drive to change the world from a young age.
I first met Omar Bawa five years ago in the offices of the then young innovative startup founded by him and his brother Taha, Goodwall. I was immediately struck by its naturalness and desire to change the world. Since then, thanks to Omar and Taha’s unquestionable talent and visionary leadership, the next generation social network to discover opportunities from scholarships to jobs, has grown in size, staff and – most importantly – members. The platform now counts 1 million-plus members (students, young professionals, and entrepreneurs) living in more than 150 different countries. Goodwall helps its members, mainly millennials and members of the generation Z, to connect with like-minded individuals, get the support they need, pitch ideas, and effect change.
In fact, the idea behind the professional development network for young talents is to reinvent the way candidates and employers connect with each others. To help new generational talents make their way into the working world, Goodwall is reinventing how people are evaluated. In a way, a bit like Ampersand World, Omar and Taha are trying to disrupt the human resources industry. According to their vision, candidates should not be judged by what is written in the curriculum vitae, but rather by their interests, overall qualities and activities beyond the work environment. They want to give everyone a chance to shine. By making it easier to create meaningful connections between students and employers, Goodwall helps create tailor-made opportunities for each individual.
One of the people who seems to have already reached his full potential is Omar. At only 27 years of age, he has already become a successful entrepreneur, as well as being TEDx speaker, Forbes 30 Under 30, and Kairos Fellow. His career and education paths are full of accomplishments, but he, a Swiss guy of Sri Lankan origin, comes across as a very humble and nice person. His upbeat attitude is so addictive. Next time you meet him, you will notice an engaging grin on his face. It’s the same signature smile he has on his face everyday he goes to work.
An Interview with Social Entrepreneur Omar Bawa, Goodwall’s Co-Founder
#1. If you had to give one piece of advice to a junior starting out her/his own startup, what would it be?
If you’re just getting started, I would take the time to research your market and really identify if there is a need for the solution you’re proposing. Next, I’d find the right partner. It’s not a solo journey. You need someone to have your back and help you when the going gets tough. Finally, I’d suggest preparing yourself mentally for the long-game. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You’re going to need to stay focused and have grit to succeed.
#2. What’s the highlight of your career so far?
The highlight of my career so far has been the ability to spend the last seven years working alongside my co-founder and brother. There is no person in the world I would prefer building a company with. We have a shared mission and vision and we push each other hard to achieve that goal. At Goodwall, we believe your ultimate goal should not be a degree or job. It should be a better you.
#3. If you could go back in time, which advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?
I would advise myself to celebrate more and enjoy every moment and every learning stage of the journey. I would also suggest taking on yoga earlier!
#4. What you enjoy the most in your day-to-day job?
I love how creative my job is. It’s all about problem-solving and supporting our community to achieve their goals. I have grown up arm-in-arm with the company and with the company’s needs.
#5. Do you have any mentors or role models who inspired you? Someone who helped you become what you are now?
Definitely my father. My father has been a role model my entire life. He was born in a fishing village in rural Sri Lanka. At a young age, he started working to support the family, before the roosters would wake at sunrise and after the school bell would ring. Education, for him, was his way out. Every free moment he got, he would escape to the local library. He would read and study until the sun would set. At times, he would even venture out at night to read under the oil street lamps. He topped the island’s national examinations and was the first in the family to attend university. He always worked hard and took on every challenge. He dedicated his life to serve those less fortunate and worked for 30+ years for the UNHCR to help refugees. He served refugees all over the world from Geneva, Switzerland, to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran. He changed lives for the better and brought hope to those who had none left.