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Q&A with Ghazal: Chief Product Officer


1. What attracted you to join Catchafire and take on the role of an executive?

I am very excited about the mission and potential for broad impact. Catchafire has made a lot of great strides since its founding and there are so many ways we can grow. I started my working life at the United Nations doing international development and environmental policy for almost a decade. Then I moved into the private sector and had the opportunity to build and grow a wide variety of businesses. With Catchafire, I’m coming full circle, using all that I have learned to drive significant impact.

2. What does executive leadership mean to you?

For me, leadership is about service. As leaders, we have the responsibility to help every member of our team recognize and work to achieve their full potential. As a company, we will set goals that will help us drive progress toward our mission. As a team, we will work to build products that support company goals. As a leader of the product development team, my job is to create an environment where everyone understands how they individually contribute to our goals and to make sure they have what they need to get there.

3. How do you plan to leverage your previous experience and skills to drive growth and success at Catchafire?

I spent a lot of time during my career building new things. I worked at a venture fund helping to incubate new companies out of our cleantech fund. I also worked at a global FTSE-100 company building Machine Learning and AI capabilities across the enterprise and then using these new technologies to innovate across our education, health sciences, and content businesses. I think Catchafire has an opportunity to leverage a broad range of technologies to drive widespread social impact and change. I'm excited to bring my learnings building products and businesses to this particular challenge.

4. What excites you the most about Catchafire's mission and the impact it has on the community?

I’m excited by our approach –taking social entrepreneurs that have ideas for improving their communities and supporting them with the volunteers and the skills they need. We're taking people with big ideas and limited resources and giving them the support, tools, and backing that they need in order to be successful and to experiment with their ideas for social change. Catchafire is essentially a very powerful toolbox for social entrepreneurs, and I think that's an exciting place to be.


“Catchafire is essentially a very powerful toolbox for social entrepreneurs, and I think that's an exciting place to be.”

Ghazal Badiozamani
Chief Product Officer, Catchafire


5. What are your key priorities and goals as an executive at Catchafire, and how do you plan to achieve them?

My goals are to help the company expand and grow its market share and drive broad scale innovation to enable that growth. I’m excited to work with the executive leadership team to chart a strategy and develop a vision for what Catchafire could be if we were to reach our full potential. It’s going to require a lot of change on our part. It's going to require changes in the way that we work and hopefully will lead to significant growth —growth of the team and of our capabilities.

6. What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?

It’s not career advice that I received directly, but I've noticed two core strategies that I think are critical for career development:

First, it’s really important to think about each role or job as a block that can be laid and that serves as a foundation for the next. The more you can build from one role to the next, the more you start to develop a career.

Second, develop expertise in a skill and read broadly. The more you become an expert in your craft, the more valuable you are to your team. At the same time, the more you strengthen your curiosity by reading broadly across multiple fields and disciplines, the more fodder you have for bringing ideas together in novel ways, bringing creativity and innovation to your team.

7. What are you reading or listening to right now?

I’m always reading 10 things. One in particular is a non-fiction book called “Humankind,” by Rutger Bregman. It talks about the inherent kindness of people. Often, there's a big back and forth about whether humans are inherently good or bad, and the book systematically goes through anecdotal evidence and dives into all the scientific experiments people usually argue shows humans are prone to evil and debunks them one by one. Bregman does a great job of laying out his thesis that we are hardwired to help each other. Of course, one has to combine that with a good dose of Hanna Arendt and her deep dives into what she calls the “banality of evil” to balance Bregman. Taken together, it’s pretty clear that we humans really want to do the right thing and it is when we create divides that we get into trouble.

In terms of music, I've just recently been introduced to amapiano music, a type of house mixed with R&B from South Africa. It’s just starting to gain popularity in the US - I’m loving it.

8. What’s something most folks don’t know about you, but is core to who you are?

I’m not one for surprises. I'm pretty direct and open–once you get to know me, you pretty much know everything. But, I'm generally a very adventurous person. I’ve swam with piranha in the Amazon, kayaked down the Mekong from Laos to Cambodia, and gone line fishing with local fishermen in Tobago at 4:00 in the morning. Before I had my son, I would travel pretty extensively. I love being uncomfortable and I love being lost, so I’ve traveled to places that others wouldn't really think to go and that’s what I find the most fun.

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