Bobby Umar, P. Eng, MBA, Raeallan, Toronto, ON, CYBF Mentor

If there is one thing I wish I had done better during my youth it is networking. I know now how powerful a strong network of contacts is in business and life. If I truly understood that back then, there are many things I probably would have done differently when I was growing up. Here are some of the interesting opportunities for growth and networking I would have gone for…


  • Started new clubs
  • Participated in co-ops, exchanges, and conferences

This may have helped me win the student election I ran in.


  • Learned more about the opportunities in engineering to go abroad and help developing countries
  • Used my role with the Savoy Society theatre company to plan a major event involving the drama club and the other musical theatre groups

This may have helped me have an easier time of finding summer jobs and get the support I needed from professors and TAs to perform better in some classes.


  • Worked harder to find full-filling work in the summers (rather than accepting jobs at a carpet factory, paper mill, lab and hotel just to earn a bit of money)
  • Leveraged my experiences and contacts to find a great full-time job after graduation


  • Dabbled in film and television at an earlier age
  • Looked into youth employment adventures across Canada and abroad

This may have helped me find the right job with the right fit sooner, given me the motivation I needed to leave my unfulfilling engineering job and start my musical theatre company sooner.


  • Pounded the pavement and leveraged my network to get that job in entertainment that I was really looking for

This may have helped me get more job offers or opportunities.

Despite the above missed opportunities, I consider my youth one of the best times of my life! I never knew back then how important networking really is. I have no regrets at all, but have learned a lot along the way.

Today, networking is fundamental to how I run my business and how I create relationships. It has driven over 80% of my income the past five years since I started my company. I love networking because it has provided so many amazing opportunities and I learn something each day with every connection. Networking is something we can all use, we all need and we can all improve upon.

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