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UofGH Business alum named Ontario's Associate Minister of Digital Government
Photo courtesy of Kaleed Rasheed
Even before he was elected MPP of Mississauga East-Cooksville, University of Guelph-Humber Business alumnus Kaleed Rasheed has been driven throughout his career by two main passions: a love for public service and a passion for technology.
After Rasheed’s graduation from UofGH in 2009, he headed to the U.K. to earn his Master of Business Administration before joining Waterloo, Ont.-based BlackBerry as an Enterprise Account Executive. Rasheed, who also has several years of career experience in the banking and IT sectors, only left the position with BlackBerry to because he had the opportunity run for office with the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. He was successfully elected in 2018.
So when Rasheed received a call from Premier Doug Ford notifying him that he had been chosen as Ontario’s Associate Minister of Digital Government, he could scarcely contain his excitement.
“I jokingly told the Premier: you are actually sending a kid to an all-you-can-eat candy store,” Rasheed said with a laugh. “Technology really is like a candy store for me. It’s something I’m very passionate about.
“Honestly, I was shocked to get that call. I was really happy. It was one of those phone calls you never forget in your life.”
Bringing the province into the future
Not much time has passed since Rasheed received that phone call from the Premier, but he has already been hard at work on several technological initiatives aimed at making life easier for citizens of Ontario.
Although Rasheed can’t go into too much detail on his work due to confidentiality concerns, one project that he is excited about is a digital ID that would allow Ontarians to have their official identification and other important documents available on their smartphones.
Other initiatives that Rasheed is involved in include the development of a provincial Data Authority to support a more modern approach to managing and protecting data, as well as the creation of automatic renewal notifications for driver’s licences and health cards.
“Ultimately, this is about changing things to make life easier for the people of this province,” Rasheed said.
“I’ve always been very passionate about moving our province forward technologically.”
Serving the public
Rasheed is often asked why he would leave such a good job in the private sector to enter politics. The answer, he says, is family. In fact, the suggestion to step into the political arena came from his daughter, who recognized her father’s passion about politics and suggested he get involved.
“I always say that my kids motivated me to get into politics,” said Rasheed. “I think it is all about our future generations.”
With five children at home – ranging in age from 13 years all the way down to six months – Rasheed does not have the luxury of much free time, but his hobbies include golf and cricket. In fact, while he was a student at the University of Guelph-Humber, Rasheed started a cricket team that played took on squads from other post-secondary schools.
It is one of many positive memories of Rasheed’s time at UofGH. Though he did not know then his future would be in politics, Rasheed says that his well-rounded education put him in a good position to thrive whether he chose to pursue work in the private or public sector.
“I give credit to my success to all my professors. One good thing about Guelph-Humber that I’ve said many times is the fact that you get the theoretical but also practical educational experience,” he said.
“I think that experience really taught us as students how to be good individuals. That is valuable whether you’re working in the private or public sector.”
Reflecting on his achievements, Rasheed thinks again of his family – not just his children, but his elders whose hard work paved the way for his success.
“My grandfather came from Pakistan to Canada in 1967. He was a Second World War veteran and he came here wanting to give his children and future generations a better opportunity. He used to say to me, ‘This country has given so much to me. I want you to give back to this country. It would be my dream if you can do that,’” Rasheed said.
“That’s why I always say that I am my grandfather’s Canadian dream.”