Find a Network

In part 1 of this series, we talked about how to mitigate risk while navigating roles in tech through “Explore and Exploit”. A similarly effective strategy best exercised in parallel with “Explore and Exploit” is finding or building a network.

Find yourself a network

It’s common knowledge at this point that referrals increase the probability of securing a job. But unless you went to a top school or have an established network of successful friends, you will probably have to network your way in. That is easier said than done, since very few people enjoy networking.

To many, the word “network” is a reminder…

Breaking into Tech for non-engineers

Starting with Explore & Exploit

I grew up in the Middle East in the 1990s and early 2000s. After graduating high school, I succumbed to societal pressure and chose Civil Engineering as my major. I was foreign to the world of tech. I did not know what software engineering was, or what jobs at tech companies looked like. Perhaps most importantly, even when the world of technology was slowly revealed to me, I did not know how to break into that world without having a Computer Science degree.

I started my career working as a field engineer on construction sites. I hated it. I told…


Companies look for specialists at scale

Product Management is arguably the most coveted generalist tech role. Some describe product managers (PMs) as “Mini CEOs“ of their product. Others use elaborate ven diagrams placing product management at the intersection of engineering, business and design, wearing all 3 hats and weighing all tradeoffs. Thus, it is no surprise that many perceive product managers as jacks of all trades. That said, if we look closely at the state of PMs, especially at mature product organizations, we see a different story.

While its true PMs interact with various stakeholders and drink from the fire hose on a daily basis, many…


“Product Operations” is a nascent but fast-growing field. What is it, and what skills does it require?

I first heard of Product Operations (POps) when I joined Uber in 2019. The product operations function was kicked off at Uber back in 2015 by Blake Samic. As the Uber machine scaled globally, a middle layer between Product and operations teams around the world was needed to prioritize and tackle the most impactful tech and business problems.

According to the State of Product Ops 2021 report by Product-Led Alliance, 89% of companies surveyed had a POps function. Another report from 2019 by…


With scale comes complexity. Silos slowly creep up, and mission-critical tasks start to fall between the cracks. Enter Business Operations (BizOps) — a cross-functional role with the sole mandate of getting stuff done and keeping the company on track.

What Is In The Name?

“What is modern housing? Modern housing is a collective effort to create habitable domestic environments within the framework of integrated communities. Such housing demands not merely an improvement of the physical structures and the communal patterns: it demands such social and economic changes as will make it available to every income group.” — Lewis Mumford

Housing is by far the largest annual expenditure in the United States and Canada.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) considers housing “affordable” if it costs a household less than 30% of its gross income. The US Department of Housing follows a similar guideline…

Diving into the rising tech vertical in Canada

“When technology makes density more valuable, cities will be more attractive. When technology makes density less valuable, cities will be less attractive.” — Rohit T. Aggarwala from The First Principles of Urbanism: Part I

Following the 2008 financial crisis, the world witnessed the incredible growth of start-ups in mobility, food delivery, co-living and co-working. Indeed, I am talking about the likes of Uber, DoorDash, Airbnb and WeWork whom by many estimates have a combined valuation exceeding $100B, and a footprint that exceeds many of their traditional counterparts in their respective fields.

The meteoric rise of such urban ventures was only…

Pragmatic techniques to master short term planning.

(Co-authored by Dr. Mohamed Soliman and Wafic El-Assi)

“You can’t plan a career decades ahead. Some of the jobs and places that will interest you then don’t exist now — and some that interest you now will be gone then.” — Adam Grant

Goal setting theory by Locke¹ is based on the fact that conscious human behavior is purposeful. Goals can be classified into two categories: short-term and long-term.

Traditionally, short-term goals are defined as the ones that could feasibly be completed in 3–12 months, while it usually takes more than one-year to achieve a long-term one.

Fortunately, short-term planning…

The future of banking starts here

What does Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Uber all have in common? They are all in pursuit of the global payment industry.

Google launched its digital wallet as early as 2011 and followed with Google Pay in 2017. Apple recently partnered with Goldman Sachs to offer credit cards, and Apple Pay has been available for consumers since 2016. Amazon has a suite of financial products and other companies such as Uber and Facebook are following suit.

BigTech’s push into fintech can be regarded as good news for us consumers — the main beneficiaries of…

Seven suggestions from a fellow Data Scientist

Photo by airfocus on Unsplash

A couple of months ago, I left my job as a Data Scientist at Nulogy — A Toronto based SaaS company. During my last 6 months, the Data Science team was transitioning from the POC phase to actually building the company’s first machine learning product. As with any product team, we needed a person to help manage what is left of our data-product life cycle. That is, we needed a Data Science Product Manager (DS PM). And, because of different changes in the organization at the time, I got to temporarily wear that hat. …

Wafic El-Assi

UrbanTech enthusiast, ex-Data Scientist and current Strategy & Operations Manager at Uber

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