By Hena and Nadeem Sheikh
Our marriage taught us we make a great team, so why not be business partners, too? In 2007, we joined The UPS Store’s franchise system and opened our doors for business in Vaughan, Ont. There have been learning curves along the way, but with the right attitude and commitment to customer service, we couldn’t be happier.
As a child, I loved art, drawing, crafts and baking. I always thought I would become a teacher. During my advanced levels (A-Levels), in London, England, I studied biology and geography. However, plans changed when I married Nadeem one month after graduating from the University of Greenwich with a degree in applied biology. We moved to Toronto in August 1993. We had an arranged marriage and Nadeem was already living in Richmond Hill, Ont., a suburb of Toronto.
I researched teachers’ colleges and what it would take toattain a degree over here, but decided not to pursue it.
Trying to find a job proved difficult because everyone kept asking for experience. I would tell prospective employers I had recently finished my degree, so I didn’t have any. I even tried to volunteer, but never had any luck.
Soon, we decided to buy a house and move to Newmarket, Ont., which kept me busy. I didn’t work after that because, in July 1994, I was pregnant with our first son. Our second would soon follow.
Growing up in Pakistan, I knew I wanted to leave. I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew it wouldn’t be there. Learning English would be the best way out, so I’d listen to BBC Radio. I needed to be fluent before I made any drastic decisions.
My desire to move pushed me to work hard at whatever I did. I didn’t like the way of life in Pakistan. At the age of 21, I moved to Hong Kong to try something new. I ended up working in shipping, but once again, I disliked it. Everything was too chaotic. I like organization and efficiency. When an opportunity to move to Canada came up, I decided to bite the bullet and head to Vancouver. From the minute I got off of the plane at the airport, I knew that was where I wanted to be.
I started off doing factory work, then moved into sales. I didn’t have experience, but I liked to talk and meet people. I could learn the rest. When my job offered to transfer me to Toronto, I just couldn’t say no.
I married Hena and as time went on, we had our children and it became more apparent I would have to change my job. I was spending too much time away from my wife and sons. When the electronics sales company I was working for closed down, it was time to make that change. During my search, I came across an open house for The UPS Store and figured we should check it out. They had more than 400 franchises operating across North America for over 30 years, so I didn’t need to know how much money I would make, it was clearly profitable. I needed to ask how the day-to-day operations were handled and what exactly the guidelines for franchisees were. What did the future of The UPS Store as a franchise system look like?