Turbo Interview with Rocky Ozaki from BC Tech (Vancouver)

I found Rocky online when I stumbled on a video of his DisruptHR talk. Born and raised in Vancouver, Rocky totally loves tech and is part of the city’s strongly connected and vibrant HR community. The regular HR-related meetings in Vancouver are sold out at 400+ people, and Rocky himself has recently organised two hackathon events in the city, focussed on people and culture. Rocky informed me that Vancouver is ranked 15th in the world in the tech scene right now, and his passionate vibe and positive attitude also really shone through in our discussion post-interview.


1. Tell us a bit about your professional journey, and what you do at BC Tech.

Currently I am the Vice-President of Community at the BC Tech Association who has a vision of British Columbia being a top 10 worldwide ecosystem. Internally, I lead the marketing, member experience and events teams. Externally, I am mandated to develop meaningful collaborations with the players in our tech sector ecosystem. It’s through competitive collaboration that a small jurisdiction like BC or Vancouver can compete globally.

I joined BC Tech after working nearly 4 years as an executive in various startup tech companies in Vancouver. Prior to that, I was in the corporate enterprise world for over a decade. Personally, I have started two startups.


2. What do you think is the best way to recruit people?

Know your EVP, build a strong brand and culture and the let the rest happen. Top talent will gravitate to those places if they are authentic and known.


3. What have you seen that caught your attention in the last month?

DisruptHR in Vancouver. 400+ people/HR leaders gathering to hear 5 minute long pecha kucha style presentations on innovative people practices. This community is so dialed into the future of work.


4. For you, what does an ideal workplace look like?

One where team members have pride, passion and present commitment in their work. Where innovation, agility and a true sense of belonging prevail.


5. Who’s the most inspiring person you’ve met through your work?

Bill Gates.


6. What does success look like to you?

Loving what you do and making a difference towards an aspirational goal.
That, and living a life where your faith, family and friends are your priorities.


7. What do you do in moments when you doubt yourself?

Now, I simply draw on past behaviours/experiences which remind me that (a) I can do almost anything I commit to or (b) that if I don’t succeed, it really is no big deal if I gave it my all. In my younger years, I leveraged a bit of naive arrogance.


8. Best time for ideas: midnight or early morning?

Both. Truly.


9. How do you think leaders can captivate people in their organisation?

With authenticity. Being inspirational. Caring for people as people.


10. Can you recall a moment when you experienced the biggest sense of freedom?

When I was unemployed. If you work long enough in senior/executive roles you can expect at some point your career will be put on hold because of a CEO’s preference to build her/his own team. I was a high-performing leader in a large corporation who lost his job for this reason. At first, I felt embarrassed and to some degree questioned my abilities. But through this experience I was able to rethink my values, purpose and the type of organization I needed to be a part of. It was liberating. I’m in the place I am in life in part because of the freedom this event afforded me.


11. Rotten treehouse or colourful toilet cubicle. Which of the two wins the beauty competition?

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I’d choose the toilet.


12. From memory, what’s the greatest thing that someone ever said to you?

When in the midst of my overworking, focus on status/wealth years, I was told, “your life is about the 3 F’s. Faith, Family and Friends, and you can be just as successful in your career aspirations by putting them first”. A close second, “people do what they get away with”. Applies every day of our lives. haha


HRWaterfall.com Turbo Interview with Rocky Ozaki by Martin Green

About the HRWaterfall Turbo Interview Series

This series shines a light on people from across the planet who are speaking their truth, and making the world of work a more inspiring, vibrant, and fulfilling place to be.


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