Hassaan Basit

Hassaan Basit
Grad Year: 
Political Science
Director, Communications Services
Art, Culture, Recreation & Sport
Halton Region Conservation Authority

Q: Briefly describe your current position and responsibilities, including challenges/rewards. How did you go about your job search upon graduating -- what strategies were most successful and why do you think you were hired?

I work for a government agency which also happens to have a for-profit side (very unique). As Director of Communications Services I oversee a team which is responsible for corporate communications, marketing (including for a major ski centre), graphics, website management, and community outreach.

Having a science research background combined with a postgraduate degree in science communications really helped me carve my own very specialized niche. Having a research background at UTM to go along with my BSc, and then receiving my MSc meant I was able to seek a role that connected the science practitioner to the science policy maker, and then to the wider public. I like to describe myself as a knowledge broker.

Q: List the key positions you have held since graduation, and any post-graduate degrees/diplomas you earned after graduation. If applicable, list any other ways you are involved in your profession or in your community (member of a professional association, involved as a leadership volunteer, etc).

  • 2001-2002 Queen's University of Belfast., Northern Ireland, U.K., MSc. Science Communications
  • 2008 Strategic Management Certificate, Schulich School of Business, North York, ON

Other Jobs:

  • Research Assistant UTM (D.T. Gwynne lab)
  • Communications Specialist (Conservation Halton)
  • Director Communications (present)

Q: What personal characteristics/skills are most important for success in your job/field?

As a Director you have to be a people, priorities, and budgets manager.

As a communications professional you have to be articulate if not eloquent, a quick thinker, affable, a very good writer, an expert spin doctor (even though we hate to admit this), and most importantly, a very good diplomat.

Q: During your university career did any key experiences assist you in making your career choices? If yes, how so? (Internships? Extern Program? Volunteering? Student clubs? Summer job? Mentorship?)

Having the ability to work in a research lab as a 4th year project. Helped me decide my next step in life, i.e. doing science is important, but making sure others, especially the policy makers and the influencers (general public), understand that science, is much more critical.

Q: What have been the keys to your success? What advice would you give to students who wish to pursue a similar career path? If you had the chance to plan your studies and your career path again, what would you do differently (if anything)?

Broaden your horizons, spend a year (or summer) immersed in another culture, learn to see the world from someone else's point of view. Take your time, step sideways if you must, and then seek your career (calling) path. Do not forget to develop the soft skills that may not help you land a job, but will make the difference between upward progression or a dead-end career.