The “About” section on Shabnam’s LinkedIn account tells you a lot about the soft-spoken manager of HSQE and Innovation on the Canada Line project. “I've been privileged to live and work on two different continents with highly different cultures. What I've learned so far is how to be resilient, adopt and adapt,” she reveals.
A deep-rooted love of new ideas and learning clearly energizes her. Her voice sounds animated when she talks about her work and the innovative ways in which her team solves problems. “I’m proud of what we do every day, creating, developing, innovating and trying to achieve a high level of safety and security on the Canada Line”, she states.
Her spirit for pursuing life reveals when she talks about joining a choir in 2016 and singing for the first time on-stage at eight months pregnant with her now 16-month old daughter. Fitting in a weekly three-hour choir practice is challenging, but she makes the time. “I like to have everything in place and work on all aspects of my life,” she explains. “There’s never going to be a good time, so don’t wait to pursue your passions.” Her sincerity reinvigorates a truth we hear so often that it’s lost its original ability to inspire.
Whether she’s singing or leading a brainstorming session about enhancing an aspect of safety and security on the Canada Line, Shabnam’s focus is always on exploring new ideas and growing into the best version of herself. But it’s never a selfish pursuit. Singing in a choir is ultimately about collaboration, something she also encourages in the workplace—more collaboration and sharing of ideas just makes sense when it comes to designing and building for the future.
Culturally, she sees herself as a bridge between an ancient Middle Eastern culture and a modern North American one, and she appreciates the beauty of merging the cultures and learning from both. The resilience piece is important, and never more so than when experiencing culture shock and initial inability to connect with your new life and the people around you.
“Moving from Iran to Canada was like moving to a different planet—the language thing is such a barrier,” she says, but enthusiasm brightens her voice as she adds, “I loved it because it was all about learning. So I started practicing English with myself. It’s just like music—play it in your mind and you’ll be a better musician!”
And she is always playing a song in her mind. “There’s a little drummer up there,” she jokes. If you run into Shabnam, ask her what the song of the day is if you dare. Be warned, it may be stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
Shabnam in 5 takes:
Love: “Food for our spirit to grow”
Food: “I have a lot to say on this one!” (She loves to cook.) “I love poutine. When I was little, I wanted to marry a “potato man”—like a potato farmer—because I love potatoes so much!”
Song: “Moon River”
Place: By the ocean
Structure: A big cruise ship and a station
For more about Shabnam’s expertise, click here