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11pm. Thursday, 24 October 2013. Adelaide Airport.
That’s the exact moment time stood still for Ameen Bou Diab.
Taking off from the windswept deserts of Saudi Arabia and landing along the white-sand beaches of Adelaide, at that moment, Ameen was ready to embrace his new, “true” home in South Australia.
“It’s one of the most personal points in time to me as a person, because that was the day I landed in South Australia,” Ameen reflects.
“I’m originally Lebanese, but grew up in Saudi Arabia because my parents migrated there long before I was born to provide my siblings and I a better quality of living.
“So when you’re born as an immigrant and you migrate again, you just start questioning whether somewhere is truly home, but eventually… I felt that there was a strong urge within me to go to South Australia.
“I wanted to be in an inclusive, welcoming, open-minded society that’s going to accept me for who I am.”
Ameen initially made his move to South Australia to study engineering at the University of Adelaide, before heading interstate to work in engineering consulting.
Feeling the same urge that he did in 2013, Ameen returned to Adelaide in 2019, to continue his career in engineering consulting and build his career closer to his idea of home, Adelaide. A year after trying consulting and banking he was ready to reconnect with his purpose once more as an Idea Vallidator at 11point2.
“I took a fairly big risk by leaving banking and joining 11point2,” Ameen said.
“But I had realised I wanted to be in a work environment where I was really doing meaningful work, that genuinely aligned to who I am as a person.”
11point2 is a pioneer in applying entrepreneurial founder mindset and agility to corporations and government. As an Idea Validation company, they connect unobvious dots to create clarity within the chaos of transformative, disruptive innovation – to conceive and rapidly validate ideas that would otherwise never had been found.
“My role is to stress test and validate technology ideas that have a net positive impact on our people and planet, what we call ‘worthwhile ideas”.
“I love what I do.
“I’m passionate about solving complex problems, being more authentic as a professional, and understanding that there’s a just cause that’s actually bigger than you, your position, power or influence.”
According to Ameen, South Australia is “uniquely positioned” to become a globally-renowned testing bed.
“It’s the technological readiness, the economic resilience we’ve built off the back of COVID, the net-positive migration, the skilled workforce we have…it’s all there.
“Not to mention connection,” Ameen adds.
“One of the biggest advantages we have in South Australia is that people are willing to work together.
“They’re willing to build on each other’s ideas, they’re willing to support each other, grab a coffee and have a chat on the phone.
“That’s why I really believe we are at the forefront, because the more we embrace each other, the more we grow as individuals, and more importantly, as a state… we’re building a stronger front for a global capability.”
Ameen isn’t the only one realising the potential of South Australia.
“Right now, South Australia is going through a growth phase, and any globally-known company that jumps on board right now, they know they’re going to have a big piece of the pie,” Ameen said.
“The word is definitely spreading about South Australia…in places like Silicon Valley or San Francisco, really well-known tech testing beds around the world.
“They can see this almost metamorphosis process going on. They can see big opportunities on the rise.”
The best part? It’s the quality of opportunities, as well as the quantity, that’s making South Australia a powerhouse for innovators like Ameen.
“My friends live all around the world, in places like Toronto and New York.
“And every time we catch up, I feel more grateful…literally every time we talk, I feel more grateful.
“They’ve got things that we don’t have and vice versa, but I think overall, the quality of the relationships, the quality of the interactions, the quality of what you do, where it goes, the ripple effect…South Australia is a truly unique place.”