Shakeel Bharmal


Shakeel Bharmal is an experienced business and non-profit leader with a proven track record at the senior management level. He is a professional speaker, a consultant, teacher and leadership coach. His experience includes leading start-ups, process and organization transformations, product launches and turn-around situations.

Shakeel is the founder of OceanBlue Strategic, a leadership coaching, facilitation and consulting firm focused on improving the competency, character, confidence and commitment of leaders, entrepreneurs and professionals as they embrace the challenges and opportunities of today’s environment. As a practicing executive coach, he is one of the founding members of the Ivey Academy Coaching Network at the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey School of Business. He is also a senior member of The Summit Group, a global sales transformation firm with a quarter century history helping Fortune 1000 firms grow revenue and create value for their largest clients.

His leadership experience includes 7 years as chief operating officer for the Canadian unit of a global NGO. In this role, he was able to observe the power of humanity through connections with Canadian volunteers, donors and community leaders and with families in rural Africa.

In the corporate sector, he served as general manager of global logistics, and director of marketing and sales effectiveness in the transportation industry. Other experiences include: management roles in the retail and wholesale oil and gas sector; teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in management at the University of British Columbia and Gold Platinum Institute in Russia; and serving as a strategy consultant to clients in the aerospace, automotive, aviation, energy, internet and transportation industries.

Shakeel holds an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business, where he graduated as Class Valedictorian. He immigrated to Canada with his family from Tanzania as a child, grew up in Vancouver and is currently based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


Shakeel’s primary focus in his talks is to inspire and move the audience to embrace growth in their self-awareness, capabilities, relationships and leadership capacity. He incorporates a balance of personal stories, research insights and actionable steps. Shakeel’s mantra is that a drop can create a ripple, and a ripple can change everything. He believes that each one of us can impact the people around us and, through them, the broader community and the world. His goal is to help people recognize that for themselves and act with purpose to make an impact.

Growth Mindset

Some believe their potential is limited based on the abilities they are born with, while others are constantly striving to grow their knowledge, skills and abilities. In this talk, Shakeel helps the audience differentiate between a fixed and growth mindset through self-reflection. He shares the triggers of fixed mindsets and provide realistic solutions to avoid those triggers and set us on a path of continued personal growth and effectiveness.

Leader Character

Strong leadership requires a balance of competence, commitment and character. While there are many mechanisms to assess and develop competence and commitment, character is more amorphous and open to interpretation. There is a belief that character is something you have, or you don’t, that it cannot be developed. Shakeel works with the audience to help them recognize what character looks like for them. He shares the latest thinking on what makes up leader character and provide a framework and actions to build character within oneself and within the teams and organizations one works with.

Candour, Courage and Safety

Consistently, leaders and team members say the hardest aspect of working with people is giving and receiving difficult feedback. It creates so much anxiety that most people choose not to give it and they put up defence mechanisms to avoid hearing it about themselves. As a result, innovation and improved individual performance are significantly hindered. Shakeel shares with his audience the natural obstacles to being direct and the consequences of not doing so. He also offers practical tips that the audience can use to develop the courage and language to be more direct while at the same time creating an environment and mindset to receive direct feedback, both for themselves and for their team.

Relevance and Emotional Intelligence

Most people approach their professional relationships from a place of personal interest. They often start with a mindset of persuading others to buy-in to their idea or perspective. This comes across as self-serving and competitive to others who are also trying to achieve their personal interests. It creates a dynamic that limits progress in our work, in collaboration and, ultimately, in growth and innovation. In this talk, Shakeel shares a simple way to shift paradigms. By focusing on what others care about, what they are trying to achieve for themselves, one starts from a stronger foundation. Then we work back to how we can help others based on what we bring to the table. The result is robust relationships and results.

Motivation Capability

When you ask someone to list those things that drain their emotional energy, they will typically describe events outside of their control or the behaviour and actions (or inactions) of others. When you ask them when they feel most energized, they will often describe situations when they are using their natural talents or when they are learning something new. In this talk, Shakeel shares how motivation works, how we can better understand our needs and leverage our talents to boost our motivation capability in alignment with our purpose.