The first time Huda Idrees became a CEO she was just 12 years old.

Having learned several computer-programming languages and Web design at school in Saudi Arabia, one day it dawned on the enterprising young woman that she could sell those services. Her first client was a landscape architect who hired her to build a website in both English and Arabic. While that first turn at helming a business no longer makes the cut for her stacked resumé, it gave Ms. Idrees an insatiable taste for running her own show.

Now 26 and an established darling of Canada’s tech-startup community, Ms. Idrees is set to reprise that leading role at Dot Health, a new Toronto-based startup she is bringing to life. Set to launch this month, the company aims to neaten the global mess of disparate patient health records by collating and then putting them directly in the hands – via smartphones, tablets and computers – of patients for a low monthly fee.


It has never been more convenient to get polished, buffed, primped or plucked.

In most neighbourhoods, a simple walk down the street unearths a spa ready to deliver teflon-strength manicures at lightning-fast speeds. You can use your smartphone to book near-painless waxing (with free Netflix for distraction!), blemish-blasting facials and get Bambi-like eyelash extensions that have become the holy grail of women weary of mascara use.

But beneath that smile set with smudge-proof matte lipstick, your favourite aesthetician is likely plotting her next move – to a similarly trendy spa that will pay as little as a dollar more an hour, has a “nicer” staff culture or will give her a weekend day off.

The spa industry, in the midst of a global boom and beset by staff shortages, is clamouring for talent. Fast growth in some markets including Toronto has driven so much competition for trained aestheticians that some employers find themselves stretching to win hourly-wage bidding wars that seem more characteristic of cutthroat Bay Street than an industry built on its ability to pamper and promote relaxation.


Having just earned her MBA while working as a financial-services consultant for a large firm in Toronto, Aneta Filiciak did something unexpected.

She turned her back on big corporate.

Despite years of experience with large companies – PwC Canada, Capco and the Bank of Montreal – Ms. Filiciak had her sights set on working for a small business she could have a big impact on and feel passionate about. A hobbyist photographer, she was delighted when she landed a position with 500px, a small online photography community and marketplace. The 65-person company created a new position to land her.


Mastermind’s secret formula – smart toys

The Globe and Mail
February 2013

It is impossible to pass by the windows of Mastermind Toys without getting an urge to go in and play. A near-life-sized family of giraffes lingers just inside the doors, flanked by a fleet of pint-sized vehicles, including a vintage fire engine (red, No. 9). Noah’s Ark is sailing in mid-air; there are sock monkeys the size of three-year-olds, train sets, gourmet kitchenettes, baby baby-grand pianos, more Lego than you can imagine.

Even an untrained eye can see that Mastermind stores are packed to the rafters with toys, but these aren’t just any old toys. The company’s buyers travel far and wide – to factories in Asia and the annual international toy fair in Nuremberg, Germany – to find exceptional merchandise. “We try to carry what’s relevant, what matters and what we think is special – the best of what’s out there,” says Jon Levy, the company’s co-founder and chief buyer. “Exposure to all the markets culminates in a truly edited selection.”