The Magic of Taking Risks with Fatima Yusuf, Director of Ecosystem Partnerships at Shopify

May 12, 2021

Fatima shares how she got out of her comfort zone by taking risks.

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Fatima Yusuf has had an inspiring career journey that took her from New York, back to Canada to lead Ecosystem Partnerships at Shopify. Having had the entrepreneurial itch herself, Fatima told all about how she was a customer of Shopify first, running her own ecommerce business, and how a chance networking event in New York ultimately led to the niche role she has today.

If you’ve ever thought about moving to a new city and are deeply curious about the magic of taking a risk, this episode is for you! Listen to Episode 26 now on The Career Memos Podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher.


Inside Fatima’s role at Shopify (and what Ecosystem Partnerships actually means).

It’s inspiring to see how Fatima’s experience launching a fundraising event in college to showcase emerging Canadian designers led to two and a half years in management consulting as an associate. While Fatima was armed with whip smart mentors there and learned the ropes about what was going on in the market and how companies could improve their strategic planning or operations, she got an itch to do something more entrepreneurial. 

Using Shopify as a customer was her first foray into the world of ecommerce, and serendipitously, at a time when she was getting ready to move back to Canada from New York, the VP of Engineering connected with her, years after they crossed paths at a networking event. There was a clear alignment in Shopify’s mission and vision and Fatima quickly received a dream offer to lead their ecosystem partnerships.

You might be wondering what ecosystem partnerships actually means. Day to day, Fatima leads the developer ecosystem, which includes all of the apps in the Shopify app store, along with the programs, partnerships, and community that are built around it. A big responsibility on her plate is ensuring that Shopify is fulfilling the needs of these businesses and building the features they need on the platform, so she works closely with the developer marketing teams and product teams.

How to make new friends and see your career flourish in an unfamiliar city.

Have you ever dreamed about moving to a new city, to either take a job at your #1 company, or even to have a fresh start away from your hometown?

Fatima gushed about her obsession with New York throughout our conversation, but it wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies. The first few months were steeped in loneliness and a lack of friends. If you find yourself in this same place, set a timeline and stick to it. And in that timeline, agree to do absolutely everything in your power to make it work in this new city so that you have no excuses and no regrets.

Some of Fatima’s pro tips were signing up for workout classes in different neighborhoods. It was a smart way to get to know the area and maybe even meet some people.

She also pushed herself out of her comfort zone and began attending different meetups and networking events. Every time she went to an event, she made friends. Fast forward several months later, Fatima had accomplished her goals, crushed her timeline, and fallen completely head over heels for New York. The idea of leaving was no longer on her radar.

The magic of taking risks and just starting.

While there’s a lot of career advice out there (some good, some not so much), I love Fatima’s wisdom around taking risks. It’s easy to talk ourselves out of taking risks. We worry about the worst case scenario, but whatever it is that you want to do, now is the time to start, and you may have to figure it out along the way, but you can do it!

You can also optimize for different things in life. Maybe while you’re in your 20’s, you strategically take a role at an amazing company more for the learning opportunity than the money, or vice versa. Or you take that scary leap and move to the unfamiliar city.

There is magic on the other side of your comfort zone.


“There’s a really magic window to take a lot of risks without it actually being that risky in the grand scheme of things.”

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Your Podcast Host and Career Coach

Over the last 12+ years, I’ve done everything from work as a global human rights activist to lead marketing & partnerships initiatives at companies like Postmates and Apple. I’ve started businesses, lived in multiple cities around the world, pivoted careers more than once, and know what it takes to turn career goals into a reality. As a career coach & consultant, I’m passionate about sharing all that I’ve learned with you, helping you define tangible goals, and providing you with the tools and direct feedback you need to achieve them.

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