Zakir I. Hussein

Zakir I. Hussein

Harvard University, Environmental Sciences & Strategic Management | Founder and CEO at the Organo Group Ltd. (Formerly known as Organo Energy Inc.)

With an entrepreneurial spirit and a venture that has embedded the triple bottom-line approach of economical, social and environmental benefits to his venture, Zakir I. Hussein was born in Daar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania and immigrated with his family to Canada at an early age. With no formal business background, Zakir grew up with lessons of hard work from his mother who was a seamstress and his father who was as a waiter. These lessons instilled in him the true meaning of execution and the value of a dollar.

In 2009, Zakir I. Hussein founded Organo Group (formerly known as Organo Energy Inc.) at the age of 19 years old.

As the CEO of Organo Group, Zakir has embedded in his firm and fellow colleagues that social responsibility and trust with clients is the fundamental core when developing enviro-social alliances with partners in sustainability in a competitive market place.

Organo Group, the Canadian conglomerate holding firm which is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada operates and services various major industries in Alberta: renewable energy, waste management and environmental solutions, petroleum waste services, recycling and marketing, advertising, import/export distribution and real estate.

Zakir I. Hussein has humbly accepted awards that include the Student Entrepreneur of the Year (Alberta & Western Canada), the Premier’s Citizenship Award, and recently Calgary’s 2014 Top 40 Under 40 by Avenue Magazine.

We asked Zakir:

The OGM: As you embark on your career path, how important is the culture of the organization you choose?

Zakir: I strongly believe that an organization whether it be for profit or not-for-profit should contain a culture that attracts not only the customers but also keeps the employees content and motivated on a consistent basis. I also trust that the key to having a fun and exciting culture is to craft a level of transparency between executive management and the rest of your organizations team.

The OGM: Describe the impact work flexibility will have on your career path.

Zakir: Entrepreneurship is sometimes viewed from the perspective that if you own a company you have the ability to make your schedules as flexible as possible. The reality is, there is still sacrifice and when starting off, there is no work-life balance. When starting off on your own personal venture or beginning your career, ensuring satisfaction amongst your customers and partners is difficult – this is where that word ‘passion’ comes into play. If you are happy and passionate about what you are doing, it will not be called ‘work’ for you.

A successful schedule maximizes my time during work hours to enhance the organization’s community, workforce and the environment while leaving enough time for loved ones such as my family and friends.

The OGM: What does a strong cohesive, team-oriented culture at work mean to you?

Zakir: I believe a strong team not only meets deadlines but also beats deadlines on a consistent basis to the benefit of our customers and partners in the community.

This means the team is committed to excellence, is persistent about meeting the end goal and committed to working together each and everyday, like a family.

The OGM: Is a transparent work environment in regards to compensation, rewards and career development important to you? If so, why?

Zakir: Absolutely, I believe people should be rewarded and compensated for their efforts. To make it clear though, I think folks that don’t place expectations on short-term, personal rewards yet do place expectations on long-term organizational milestones are the best folks to have on your team.

The OGM: How does technology impact your day-to-day?

Zakir: Technology has increased ever so fast, and to be honest, as a 24 year old, you can get side tracked by the latest gadgets, tools and new and exciting apps.

For me, I focus on simplicity. This means that I try to optimize new hardware or software that the organization uses to maximize our growth.

The gadgets are neat. However, sometimes they cause more work because we live in an age where data is transferring faster then ever and we must always have it protected with maximum security.

The OGM: What does the phrase, ‘sense of community’ mean to you?

Zakir: This phrase means everything to me. It is one of three key platforms the Organo Group was built on.

The community has always been there for me, and supported me when I was starting off and I will never forget that. People are always willing to listen to you if you have something that will benefit them and the greater community. At the Organo Group, we work with the community and organizations in the community to better the lives of Albertans. We are dedicated to enhancing the youth of tomorrow while bettering the standard of living and quality of life of individuals today.

I am extremely fortunate to be part of the supportive nation of Canada, and it is my duty to give back as much as possible.

The OGM: Are acknowledgment and support an integral component to your career needs? If so, how?

Zakir: Absolutely, without acknowledgement and support your team and organization will surely crumble.

It is simple, and as cheesy as this may sound – people are like flowers and what do flowers need?
They need to be nourished in order to flourish. As a leader, you need to praise folks that are maximizing their abilities and having positive impacts on the greater good of the organization.

The OGM: For other students just figuring things out, what words of encouragement would you offer?

Zakir: If I could leave students a few words of encouragement they would be:

– Trust yourself, you don’t need an ethics course to tell you what kind of life you want to live…Trust in your instincts and you will build a great life, a good life and you will change the world.

– Go forward, do the impossible. Canada is truly a land of opportunities.

– As Gen Y individuals, I believe our dreams have to be bigger, our ambitions higher, our commitments deeper, and our efforts greater.

– If you can dream it, you can do it. Think BIG, Think fast, Think ahead. Remember that ideas are no one’s monopoly and you do not require an invitation to make profits.

– Growth has no limit; it’s all about performance. If you work with determination and with perfection, success will follow.

– Face adversity and convert your goals into opportunity. Do NOT accept defeat. Challenge all negative forces.

– Never give up. Courage should be your conviction.

– Hope is your most powerful weapon and self-confidence is your greatest asset.

– I hope one day you will motivate the youth of tomorrow. Extend to them the support they need. Each one of them has an immense source of energy and they will deliver.

– I strongly believe ordinary individuals achieve EXTRAordinary things in the promising nation of Canada.

The OGM: Did you always know what you wanted to do?

Zakir: Actually I did not. I never focused on being a dentist, or a lawyer or a doctor. I knew I was extremely passionate about land, air, and the sea. I loved everything about the natural environment and how people interacted with it one another and I wanted to impact the world for the better and create a more sustainable environment for future generations.

The OGM: Where does/would your sense of satisfaction come from at work?

Zakir: My outer satisfaction comes from the joy that my team has and from how thankful our customers are for our products and services.

My inner satisfaction comes from having the ability to motivate and help our partners improve their social and environmental responsibilities by volunteering our employee’s time.

The OGM: How important are further education and training to your career development?

Zakir: I believe the day you think you are successful or start to think that you know it all marks the beginning of the end.

Constant learning and further education is key to maximizing growth in our organization.

I read nearly 60 books a year on all topics that I believe will impact my ways of thinking to become a better leader in my organization and in our community.

The OGM: How did you differentiate yourself in the workplace as a Millennial?

Zakir: Four things:

1. Persistence, each and every day

2. Drive to push an organization forward with a dedicated team

3. Change for the better in social, economical and environmental spheres

4. Failure was not an option

The OGM: If you could be stuck in an elevator with anybody, who would it be?

Zakir: I think it would have to be Murray Edwards, from CNRL.

I have the utmost respect for this individual and how he had the ability, courage, and persistence required for creating what is one of Canada’s iconic organizations. I believe he would have a ton of advice for me!

The OGM: Did you pursue University right after high school?

Zakir: Yes, I did.

The OGM: Will/Did your University program play a role in your career path? If not, why?

Zakir: Absolutely. I believe having a background in sustainable development and the ability to understand why sustainable development is so vital for our generation. This background has greatly assisted my organization.

The OGM: What are the three most important aspects you feel an organization should offer to retain a Millennial?

Zakir: 1. Transparency. Share the goals and milestone standards and achievements of the organization.

2. Recognize talent by rewarding the individual or team.

3. Make sure that learning is not being compromised and that every individual on your team is furthering their development and education in the field to maximize their strengths and keep up with national and global demands.

The OGM: Describe your ideal organization, one that you could grow and develop your career in?

Zakir: The ideal organization – that I strive to create each and everyday – would be an organization like Apple.

I don’t mean the capital side or the financial side of the organization, but the way the organization has been ran.

When you enter an Apple store, each staff member is knowledgeable and smiling and always willing to help.

You have to have fun. Your team has to be constantly excited and motivated and I believe Apple has been successful in this regard.

For these reasons, I am a dedicated Apple customer. I know that each time I go there, even if I am the millionth customer, they still treat me as if I was their first.

The OGM: From a scale of 1 to 10 how important are the following: incentives and rewards, compensation, training and development, global opportunities? 1 being least important.

Zakir: Training and development would be 10

Compensation would be 8

Incentives and rewards would be 9

Global opportunities would be 10

The OGM: Tell us about your most memorable achievement or milestone thus far?

Zakir: I was truly honored and humbly blessed by being awarded the Premiers Citizenship Award, Student Entrepreneur of the Year for Alberta & Western Canada and Calgary’s 2013 Top 40 Under 40.

Though I was humbled by this recognition, these awards are not my most memorable achievements. My most memorable achievement began when I met an elderly individual who was living in his truck as he was homeless and was in need of employment.

Hiring him onto our team allowed him to use his talents and skills and he was finally able to have a cell phone, and have a roof over his head.

For me, this has been the most wonderful thing about entrepreneurship. I believe our organization has benefited far more with him on our team. It has been a wonderful achievement for me to take someone, who showed dedication, the willingness to change and grow, and who was out in the blistering cold, and present him with opportunities within our organization.


Tina Olivero

Tina Olivero

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What do you think about Zakir I. Hussein?

  • King K

    Very impressive sir!

  • Mackenzie Jones

    Well done Zak!

  • Mandeep Parmar

    Hey, Zak, good work.

  • Michael Taylor

    Really Interesting interview and very motivating!

  • Suman

    Great job Zak!

  • Loren Gonzales

    Awesome interview Zak!

  • Joe Hayslett

    Congratulations, all the best!

  • Carlton Wilson

    Good job, keep it up.

  • Zeeshan Virk

    Zak is one of my very good friends and it’s really inspiring to see someone I know personally do something great like this, make us all proud Bro.

  • Bader E.

    Congrats Zak

  • Gagan Liddar

    Awesome job Zak.

  • taleba

    Congratulations Zak, you are one cool cat. See ya on the flip side.

  • Ghyes Tanha

    Inspiration to all young youth keep it up shiesha buddy

  • Andrew Tse

    Keep pushing forward Zakir! Awesome work, great company!

  • Kendall❣

    Congrats Zak!

  • Michael Nguyen

    Aye let’s go, keep it up! #Zakonly

  • Erika Dupuis

    Your phenomenal! Such an inspiration to gen Y ! Great article 🙂

  • Johnny Phan

    Zak, congrats – your a king — keep doing it!

  • Greald Ansell

    Interesting business. Very intelligent!

  • Jordan Turley

    Zak is the cat’s meow and gets my vote any day.

  • Jessica Thomas

    It’s incredible how accomplished you are at such a young age. You’re an inspiration to students and young professionals! My favorite section of the interview is when you share a few words of encouragement to current students, still trying to figure things out. You’ve instilled some extra motivation in me!

  • The Five Star General *****

    Nicely done! Give em hell kiddo!

  • Karen Willson

    Amazing business concept!

  • Jason Rogers

    A great alumni of Rundle Academy – we support him 100%.

  • Graham Kennelly

    I worked with Zakir on multiple start up projects. A major success was when he led the University of Calgary student club Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE), now formally known as Enactus (Entrepreneurs In Action). His level of leadership and commitment in drawing out the very best in others is unparalleled.

  • Santana R

    Very inspiring- keep up the hard work!

  • Aisha Zaman

    keep it up Zak!

  • Balpreet Saini

    Great work Zak

  • warren

    Zakir gets it.

  • Immy

    Good Job Zak, Keep it up!!!

  • Michael M

    Great work Zak!

  • Pururava Dua

    Go Zak Go Zak Go Zak!

  • Shab

    Keep pushing, you got this! Keep bettering our world!

  • Iqbaq

    Thank you for being a great leader in our community Zakir! Hands down – you deserve this!

  • Emma Morgan

    Go Zak!!!

  • Thomas John

    Zak you are an inspiration and a great friend. Continue doing good for the worl and our community.

  • Kelsey Sinfield

    I vote for Zakir! You have done amazing things! So happy for you! 🙂

  • Brian Ho

    I saw Zakir one day behind National on 10th avenue by himeself. It was odd to see someone in a suit, pumping out grease from one of his bins. I was curious to see what he was doing. He saw me looking at him with a confused looked. He chuckled, stopped what he was doing and explained. Id laughed at him, not because of what he was doing, but explained to him it was the first time I saw someone well dressed, getting dirty. To me this, shows me he is willing to do anything, “strive for success”. I asked him why he was out here instead of his employees. It was the weekend afterall and he allowed his employees to take the night off and he decided to do it himself. This is why my vote will go to Zakir!

    “Failure Is Not An Option”

  • Jonathan Zoeteman

    This guy gets my vote!

  • alex

    For a friend and an amazing person doing amazing things! You definitely get my vote! Keep up the great work!

  • Sajda Kanji

    Proud of you!

  • Jennifer

    Zak has accomplised great things, especially for someone his age. I find his approach to his business refreshing and very inspirational, I’m glad he’s getting the recognition he deserves. I definitely have a thing or two I could learn from him. Good luck!

  • Gary Sylven

    Zakir, your grounded approach and global perspective combine for highly impactful outcomes. Keep up the good work.

  • Sheliza

    Nicely done!

  • SSS

    Zakir has worked very hard to get where he is and has come so far from growing algae in his parents basement! Which may have had the police worried a time or two. Not only does he run a company, but instead of dropping out of school to follow his passion, Harvard nabbed him from the U of C, and he is now obtaining his degree in environmental management. Now that’s dedication! He not only deserves this because of his insane work ethic, it’s also his passion for involving himself and the company in the community! Zakir has great things ahead of him and this is defintly not the last time you will be hearing his name. I wish you the best of luck with this and all your future endeavours!

  • Michelle Cawthorpe

    Zakir you are amazing and I vote for you! All the hard work and effort that you have put into the environment and into your company is astounding!

  • Richard Lawson

    Love to see Rundle Alumni moving forward!

  • Shaneet Minhas

    Great job Zakir !

  • Sheldon Locking

    Great job Zakir!

  • ep

    Nothing great will ever be achieved without great men, and men are great only if they are determined to be so. -Charles de Gaulle
    A quote that I believe truly represents this great man, Mr.Hussein. Congratulations to all of your achievements!

  • James Burla

    Zakir, your approach to learning and the learning path of others has always been admirable. You are one others can look to. Always been proud of you.

  • Ricky

    you got my vote

  • Keith van der Meer

    Good luck, Zakir. Thanks for the time and energy you have donated to instilling the entrepreneurial spirit in our students.

  • Benjamin Mccarty

    It seems that a lot of hard work has been done here! Good job..

  • Kent Stephenson

    Well done Zakir, Hope that my vote helps!

  • Mike Dial

    Good Job and great story!

  • Hank Summers

    Congratulations, hope you win this!

  • Marc LeClair

    Great man, pursuing some truly innovative solutions.

  • Lovely Ann Albasin

    Very Impressive Zakir!

  • Samuel Taylor

    Very cool, you have my vote!

  • Chris Carlton

    Impressive work, rock on!

  • Tamim Aminzadah

    Good job man!

  • Judith Miller

    Awesome interview, keep it up!!

  • Edna Hoey

    This is an incredible achievement!

  • Michael Laroix

    Renewable energy is the way forward!

  • Henry Munk

    Fantastic Job Zakir!!!!

  • Joey Amaro

    Cool and you have got my vote!!

  • Steven Slezak

    Great job. Well done.

  • Rio Shariff

    Great job buddy!

  • Caycee Clark

    Started from bottom now we here !!!

  • Kathryn Donohoe

    Great interview! 🙂

  • Jaymee Sison

    Keep doing what you’re doing

  • Allykhan Lila

    Best of luck Zakir. Keep up the amazing work!

  • Sophie

    Best of luck! 🙂

  • Serena Valliani

    Good luck & continue doing great things!

  • Nadeem Rajan

    Nicely done Zakir, you have my vote.

  • Stephanie Felders

    All the best!

  • Samuel Taylor

    Great Article!

  • Daniel Kang

    Wow, how did you get into this?

  • Mayada

    Good luck Zakir =)

  • Andrew Lajaro

    Your a well rounded person and I admire your vision and your attitude towards your team and Company . Wishing you and your team all the best in the years to come!!

  • Rohini Singh

    Good luck & Great job! =)

  • Paul Stockton

    Well Done!

  • Paul Stockton

    well done

  • Noura Aly

    Good luck!!

  • Zabida Kalaf

    Best of Luck Zakir!

  • Margie Taylor

    Great job. Keep it up!

  • Naheer Hirji

    well done buddy keep up the great work !!

  • Blaire Tyers

    Good luck, Zakir!

  • Nadine Sihota

    You are truly an inspiration to your peers. Great job Zakir!

  • Carole Lam

    Zakir’s motivation and commitment to his work is truly inspiring. I completely support his innovations around renewable energy. I am eager to see where Zakir takes his passion and ideas for the future. Simply amazing. Good luck! You deserve it!

  • melissa

    Great Job ! This is awesome!

  • Arpen Mahal

    Great work – best of luck!

  • Andrew H Vuu

    best of luck zak!

  • Todd

    good job!

  • David Richardson

    Way to go.

  • Sarah

    Zakir, those were great answers and I’m personally very inspired by them. You definitely have my vote! Wishing you all the best, keep it up!

  • sinan aboud

    Great job! Your passion will lead you to do great things!

  • Sameer Lila

    Truly Impressive! Keep it up Zak!

  • Carli Mann

    You’re awesome, Zak. Thanks for all the great advice. You have my vote.

  • Shaista Qasimali

    Keep up the great work 🙂 you’re doing an amazing job and are getting my vote!

  • Kelsey

    Great work Zakir! Thank you for all your work in the community ! You deserve this !

  • Amin Haji

    Awesome work!

  • Justin Sran

    Keep up with the great work ! best wishes bro

  • Beth O’Connor

    Good job man!

  • Michelle Little

    Keep it up! Changing the world for the better, one step at a time.

  • jcanchan

    Good luck Zakir!

  • Shazz P

    congrats and goodluck.. doing big things

  • Jatin Shory

    Keep the momentum flowing Zak!

  • Adam Rahemtulla

    Good stuff buddy

  • Sarah

    good luck

  • Ahman P

    Great guy, great vision. Good luck

  • Aly XStone Hirji

    Great work Bud!

  • Shazeen T

    Good luck Zakir! Glad to see you’re doing so well!

  • Shaleen S.

    Well done Zak!

  • Aaisha

    Awesome job! Keep it up 🙂

  • Elysha Velji

    Great Job!! Good luck!

  • Sarina Walji

    This is awesome! Good luck with everything!

  • Anela

    Good luck!

  • Angus McWhirter

    Keep up the great work Zak!

  • Rizwan hassanaly

    All the best buddy

  • Dexter Matthew L

    Good luck!

  • Khaleel Haji


  • Suzan Adamus

    You have my vote! Good luck

  • Sameer

    Great Job man!

  • Arie

    Best of luck Zakir!!

  • Jenna Matthews

    Good luck! 🙂

  • Remo Jr Remone

    Vote for zakir

  • karimkkk

    Zak is the new nenshi

  • Kaval Virk

    Best of luck Zak!

  • Eden

    Good Luck Zak!!!:)

  • Madison pinder

    Good job!

  • Rahim Printer

    Good luck!

  • Aureba K. Bozai

    Amazing job and good luck!

  • Lidia Jones

    good luck!

  • Shea Fairbanks

    Great job Zakir! We always talked about big things when we were younger, I’m glad you’re succeeding!

  • Manhar

    Great work Zak! keep it up. Best of luck!

  • Taheera Tharani

    This is awesome ! Good luck !

  • Allison Affonso

    Best of luck!

  • Brittney Riendeau

    Best of luck Zakir 🙂

  • Kiran Layal

    Good job bud!!

  • Mashael Mawji

    Fantastic! Keep up the great work!

  • Majestic Brownie

    Good luck man!

  • Jessica Bradley Bourke

    good luck

  • Bri Robin

    Good luck!!

  • Akash Duggal

    Good job and well done. Keep it up!
    I wish you all the best.

  • Aria Kopolii

    Good luck bro

  • Adil Mohammed

    Keep up the great work bro!

  • Saleen

    Great work Zak! Good luck 🙂

  • Alyshea Surani

    Good luck!! 🙂

  • Alyshea Surani

    Good Luck!! 🙂

  • Harbir Sond

    Good Job Buddy! Keep Up the Good work.

  • Carla Velazquez

    Good luck Zahir!!

  • Jordan Lehto

    You are the best Zack!

  • Alina Lakhani

    Good luck!

  • Nameer Lakhani

    good luck brother, keep it up!

  • sweetpops

    Awesome job Zakir!!!

  • sweetpops

    Good job Zakir!!

  • Riza M

    Zakir, very good job and great work! =)

  • jothi prakash

    Good Job CEO !!

  • Dylan

    Zakir, I always knew you were capable of great things. Go get em man!

  • Farah Sarif

    Your passion, dedication and persistence is clearly visible. Good on you, keep it up!

  • Hayley

    Go Zakir!

  • Riju Maitra

    good luck Zakir!

  • Sammy Barker

    So proud of everything that you have accomplished. Best of luck in the future:)

  • Katie Whitney Young

    Keep it up

  • Best of luck Zakir

    Best of luck Zakir!

  • Tommy

    Good luck

  • Nadeem Remtulla

    good job man!!!!

  • Ravinder Sohanpal

    Good job on everything you’ve been doing so far, keep up the good work.

  • Salima Kassam

    Good work Zakir! Best of luck.

  • Katie Paterno

    Best of luck Zakir!

  • Jenelle Tb T

    Hard working guy 🙂 best of luck zakir !

  • Jenelle Tb T

    Hard working guy 🙂 best of luck for everything that you do ..

  • David Maruyama

    Best of Luck!

  • Zain

    Awesome job bud!

  • Alia B.

    Great job!

  • Salma Moolji

    Good luck!!

  • Farah Popat

    Good job Zakir. Keep it up!

  • Sedina Halilovic

    good luck!

  • Terri Faloney

    Amazing!!!! Keep it up you clever guy. All the best!

  • Steve D Drysdale

    Good luck Zakir!

  • Laura Montanes

    Best of luck! =]

  • Marshall Strong

    Good luck Zakir! Your moving mountains!

  • Taryn. K

    You got this Zakir! Keep doing the great work that you do. I VOTE ZAKIR!

  • Russel Sk.

    Great work, keep it up

  • Mark siegel

    Your commitment to your organization is phenomenal – Amazing Work!

  • Matt R.

    Kick butt Zakir, you got this bro!

  • Natasha Dharshi

    This is a phenomenal effort. Wow. You should be proud of your achievements. Inspired by your ambition and intrinsic motivation.

  • Sergio F. Lupesco

    So Inspired by your work …We need more of you Zakir!

  • Sonia Kasala

    Whooohooo! You have my vote Zakir!

  • Henry James

    Good job buddy , keep It Up -HJ

  • Oliver w

    Zak you rock my socks!

  • Jamie

    Yay Zakir! =D

  • Nailisha Manji

    Goodluck Zakir! You’re doing amazing work.

  • Moe Hazan

    You got my vote Zakir , Great Work man!

  • Deepi

    Man, haha What can I say – Your amazing! Vote Zakir 🙂

  • Katie William

    BAM! Go Zakir Go Zakir hehe

  • Salima M

    Alright Zakir, You have my vote . Your an Inspiration . Keep it up man!

  • Jenni

    You Rock!

  • M Grant

    Zakir, You have my vote. Best of Luck!

  • Naazia Pardhan

    Best of luck 🙂 so proud of you!

  • Vanessa Phillips

    Good Luck!

  • Richard P

    Your the man! Best of luck bro I knew you would do it!

  • Laura Nguyen

    Keep up the good work Zakir and best of luck!!!

  • Abbey

    Good Luck Zakir!

  • Monica

    Good job Zakir, good luck

  • Heather

    Yay Zak – you have my vote =D

  • Anthony Williams

    Go Zak Go Zak Go Zak !

  • Ken W

    Good Luck Zakir! Your doing wonderful things for our nation! Keep it up!

  • Monique Pantel

    Amazing work Zakir! All the best in your future endeavours- they’re sure to be bright! 🙂

  • Meagan Faye

    Zakir, good luck on this!! You have worked so hard to get here!!

  • Raman Rakhra

    Goodluck zak! 🙂

  • Dr. Brent Macdonald

    Go Zac! Be well, Doc

  • Rishi Appadu

    Good Luck going forward Zakir-looking forward to checking out your future achievements!

  • Leena Farzi

    Good luck Zakir and keep up the great work!

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