Carbonite CEO and President, Mohamad Ali, spoke at yesterday's City Awake event. As the Chamber’s newest intern, I was excited to attend my first event (at Carbonite's awesome Star Wars-themed offices) and to have the opportunity to hear from one of Greater Boston’s leading tech CEOs. Here are three key messages I took away from this great discussion:
Immigration is crucial for innovation and a strong community
Mohamad opened the Forum by talking about how he immigrated to America from Guyana with his mother when he was 11. He reminded us that there are tremendous opportunities here in the U.S. and that, “you really still can have the American dream here.” He emphasized the importance of open and fair immigration policies by saying that America was built on waves and waves of immigrants, and these waves bring a diversity of thought. We are constantly infusing the population with new, diverse thinking, which then creates a unique culture from which we can all benefit. If we limit immigration, Ali said, then we limit the potential for this diverse flow of ideas.
The value of mentorship and picking “the right thing to do”
Mohamad told us that throughout his life, he had people who encouraged him, provided moral support, and presented him with opportunities. He referred to his eighth grade math teacher who told him about the magnet schools in New York and urged him to apply, something that he never would’ve done had it not been for her.
Mohamad also talked about knowing when not to give up. He told us a story of when he and a group of his college friends at Stanford were working to develop a search engine but gave up, shrugging it off as something that couldn’t be done. The next year, someone a year behind him at Stanford created Yahoo, and then Google was created shortly after that. Ali reminded us that there is great value in learning from your experiences, and he encouraged us to go out and try new things, because you never know what could come from it.
The talent gap is widening and we need to do our best to fill it
Greater Boston has shifted from a skills-based economy to a global, knowledge-based economy.As the baby-boomer generation retires, Mohamad stressed that we must keep working to develop our region’s talent to ensure that our state continues to grow, not shrink. To fill this gap, he recommended that leverage the students in the state, and recruit talent from the many graduates of Boston schools. He highlighted the fact that people aren’t just looking for a job anymore, they are looking for a purpose. And Ali believes in Carbonite’s purpose to protect their customers and the community. He ended by saying, “We are all members of this community, and we all want to make it better.”
Learn more about Mohamad Ali here.