YESxMentors: Interview with Sharan Sumal, UX Specialist at Apply Digital and Head of Product Innovation at Daily Hive

By Zafira Rajan & Corina Santema  /  

#GirlBoss, #Inspirational, #Interviews, #Networking

Sharan’s passion for product design was ignited during her very early years with Daily Hive.  Having been with the company from it’s inception as Vancity Buzz to it’s evolution as Daily Hive, Sharan acquired a deep knowledge into the digital product space.

Outside the digital environment, Sharan also brings a unique perspective to her work with her experience in the Healthcare Industry.  Coming from a background in Psychology and Criminology, Sharan spent eight years working in the Mental Health and Addictions field – primarily with the extraordinary people of the Downtown Eastside.

The combination of her strong understanding of human behaviour and vast knowledge in helping to grow a successful business is what makes her viewpoints on the tech industry so unique.

Sharan’s greatest passion lies in solving complicated problems with creative teams to create digital products that make a difference.

You are clearly a #girlboss given both the roles you hold right now! What does a typical day look like for you between Apply Digital and Daily Hive?

It’s a bit crazy, as you can imagine.  There’s really no such thing as a typical day, because neither job is very typical. I juggle multiple projects at Apply and it’s consistently very demanding of my time, there is never any down time.  On the other hand, Daily Hive is more of a steady pace.  It’s very rare that we are racing to market with large changes, so it’s usually very manageable for me.  With that said, I work anywhere between 60 – 80 hour weeks between the two roles and professional development.  In between all of that, I’m also a mother and a wife – I’m still learning how to balance it all.

What recent projects are you most proud of?

On the Daily Hive front, launching our first vertical “Dished” was a pretty tremendous feat.  It was an amazing effort across the team to get Dished to market.  Dished is part one of our expansion strategy and there is a lot more to come from the same vein.  With Apply Digital, in the last few months, I’ve had three new apps come to market and that’s been really exciting for me.  The Apply team has been working really hard over the past year and a half helping F1000 companies and innovative startups to define/redefine their businesses in the digital landscape. To see some our products finally come to market is a pretty big milestone for us.

Our attendees can’t wait to meet you at our event! Do you have a mentor of your own who you look to for guidance? Why is mentoring important to you?

I have many mentors, and I’d be nowhere without them.  Barinder Rasode has been instrumental to my growth in the realm of confidence and pushing me out of my comfort zone in order to grow in areas I never thought I could.  Another mentor that has helped me to push my boundaries, and leads by example, is Gautam Lohia.  I don’t just learn from him how to be a powerhouse in my field, but also how to balance being at the top of my game with being there for my family.  If it wasn’t for the mentorship from these two very important people in my life, I wouldn’t be able to push as hard as I do to be better in all aspects of life. It’s because of this impact that I consistently try to pay it forward by mentoring others up to be even better than me.

Daily Hive has been growing by leaps and bounds. Is there anything exciting you’re working on that’s coming down the pipeline?

I’m a small piece of the larger and more dedicated team at Daily Hive.  There are so many people that I get to interact with and work with at Daily Hive that have really helped us to grow bigger than we ever imagined almost a decade ago sitting in a basement. This is a very exciting time for us at Daily Hive, and while I can’t talk about most of it, what I will say is that we are continuously growing in both areas that you may and may not expect.  Another exciting period of growth is expected to hit market early next year, so keep an eye on us!

What’s your advice to women who want to take on multiple leadership roles, like you have?

Think on a global level. A lot of times we limit ourselves to what we’re surrounded by. Working hard and taking on multiple roles is extremely common on a global landscape. Look to other cities like Hong Kong, Jakarta, New Delhi, Tokyo, New York City and you’ll find some of the world’s hardest working people there – I’m still trying to get to their level.