On the Job: Naomi Pereira, CEO, JobJar
Naomi Pereira is the CEO and co-founder of JobJar. Read more about the evolution of JobJar in the Spring 2018 issue of LINK magazine, on stands mid-May.
Risk taking and leadership are two qualities Naomi Pereira considers part of her family DNA. After spending the majority of her childhood living on a farm in the rural community of Merida, Venezuela, Pereira's family moved to Canada in hopes of a better life. It was a risk that came with great reward, much like when the Architectural Technologies grad made the decision to pursue her own business.
Formerly a creative director for a high-end kitchen and bathroom design company, Pereira remembers feeling "excited" by the decision to step out on her own.
After realizing she wanted more out of her career, Pereira co-founded JobJar, an online marketplace connecting skilled workers and homeowners. The platform was officially launched in January 2016 and has been growing ever since.
Your LinkedIn profile states "Doing what I love for a living." Have you always felt this way about your career?
It's interesting because very early in my career I was on the fence, trying to decide between working with animals and working in architecture. I was interested in both and I've always pursued work that I really love.
I tried going into oil and gas after I graduated from SAIT, but I couldn't do it because it wasn't my passion. It was a career path I tried because it pays well and I thought it's what you're supposed to do in Alberta. Although the pay was higher than other positions I might have had at that point, I wasn't fulfilled.
I am very young but, as you age and get wiser, your priorities shift a little bit. I feel that what I've been doing in my career over the past 10 years has prepared me to grow into becoming a business owner.
How did it feel to take the leap into entrepreneurialism?
I've always been a problem solver and I'm continually asking if there's a different way or a better way to do something.
But it's not like I came up with the JobJar concept and went to it right away. It was something that downloaded in my mind and I thought about it. It was an idea or a dream that I put to the side for a while and thought I'd get back to later. It took me too long to actually put it into action (laughs).
In general, my family has always been risk-takers — risk has been embraced in our lives. I'm the youngest of four kids and my parents moved us from Venezuela to the United States when I was four years old. Four years later we moved back to Venezuela before coming to Canada when I was 18 so I could have an opportunity for a better life.
Also, my uncle is an entrepreneur. He didn't complete his high school education, but he opened a shop and built it up and was very successful. His attitude and sense of accomplishment in owning his own company have always been inspiring to me.
So when I said, ‘OK, I am going to do this,' it was kind of normal and exciting at the same time. I've always had a vision of doing something bigger that can impact more people than just my two arms can.
What is one of the most important lessons you've learned along the way?
There are so many (laughs). It's very easy to be out of balance. I burned out last summer and needed a reset. I learned that, as a leader, you can't do it all — you need to lead by giving your team opportunities to lead. It's easy to become a bottleneck if you're such a perfectionist that you have to oversee everything. I'm still a perfectionist, but it's something I am aware of now.
Read more about the evolution of JobJar in the Spring 2018 issue of LINK magazine, on stands mid-May.
Written by Ashley Naud (JA '10)