Sharifa Khan Receives RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award

With more than 30 years of marketing experience under her belt, Sharifa Khan is considered by many to be the pioneer of multicultural marketing in Canada, working to help mainstream organizations reach ethnic markets. Hong Kong-born Khan established Balmoral Marketing in 1989, where she is president and CEO. In 1999, she received federal government recognition from Prime Minister Jean Chrétien for entrepreneurial success.

One of the latest milestones for Sharifa Khan is to be honoured as a winner of the 2013 RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award — a people’s choice award that celebrates outstanding Canadian immigrants.

“These winners are role models, not just for new Canadians but for all Canadians who will be inspired by the valuable contribution these individuals have made to their communities,” said Paul Sy, director, Multicultural Markets, RBC. “These extraordinary individuals are living proof that anyone can make a difference and contribute to the rich fabric of Canadian life.”

Sharifa attributes her success to a “no-complaints” attitude and inspiration from her family.

“My family, grandparents, aunties and uncles, and my parents are the ones who inspired me the most to always do my best. It is our family values and model of life. They never pushed me to be successful but said whatever you do, whatever you take on you just do your best and have results.” “My father was a journalist at Hong Kong’s top English newspaper, and in his 28 years career at this newspaper, he went from an ambulance chaser, court reporter to assistant editor. Never grumbled, just did it. I have followed my father’s footsteps to be communicating and outreaching to the many diverse communities in Canada, connecting and engaging with them.”

Sharifa’s success in connecting mainstream and ethnic communities is also evident in the opposite direction, helping make a Chinese cultural event popular with all Canadians. Sharifa co-founded the Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival and positioned it strongly as an important event on the Canadian sports calendar. Sharifa also devotes time to participating on mainstream and ethnic community boards, such as Mt. Sinai Hospital and the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto.

“When I made up my mind to start a marketing agency to help mainstream corporations and government connect with ethnic groups, not only did I feel the timing was right, because of the increased number of immigrants into Canada but also as an immigrant myself, I understand how these target groups think, how they behave and how they value being communicated to in their own languages,” she says.