Media Release
Getting passed over for job after job was the inspiration for Western Sydney Champion Usman Iftikhar
16 September, 2021

Media contact

Matt Levinson

The golden insight for the Committee for Sydney’s inaugural Western Sydney Champion, Usman Iftikhar, came after he was passed over for yet another job.

Having graduated with an engineering masters as a new migrant, he applied for hundreds of jobs.

“I wasn’t successful in getting any meaningful employment. I was doing lots of casual work, like working at BP and 7-Eleven and so on, so I thought why not start my own business.”

“I got this golden insight, if I can solve a problem that I’ve personally faced – well I’m a migrant and I’m trying to start a business, wouldn’t it be amazing if we had an incubator focused on new migrants and refugees.”

“What’s amazing about Western Sydney is it’s a melting pot of so many different cultures and peoples, so when we think about entrepreneurship, being based in western Sydney gives you that unique opportunity not only to work with people from different backgrounds but also to try to tackle problems a bit differently.”

“There are so many amazing people that are in Western Sydney doing fantastic work, I’m just grateful to be chosen for this and I’m really stoked and privileged to be winning this Western Sydney Champion award.”

The Western Sydney Champion Award, supported by award sponsor DXC Technology, was designed to recognise a significant contribution to advocating for and advancing Sydney’s engine room in the west, one of the fastest growing and most diverse regions in the state.

Inaugural winner Usman Iftikhar founded Catalysr, a startup pre-accelerator for new migrants and refugees. In the first five years, it’s supported 520 migrapreneurs, or high performing migrant and refugee entrepreneurs, to launch 175 enterprises.

Seelan Nayagam, President Asia Pacific at DXC Technology, said: “DXC is proud to be supporting local talent who are contributing big ideas and solutions to Western Sydney, which is incredibly important as the region singnificantly expands over the next decade.”

“Usman is a true Western Sydney Champion and we congratulate him on winning this inaugural award. Entrpreneurship and innovation has long been at the heart of this incredibly diverse, vibrant region and Usman’s work is playing a pivotal role in supporting new migrants and refugees to succeed.”

Matt Levinson, Director of Corporate Affairs at the Committee for Sydney, said: “Usman is a standout, it’s incredible what he’s achieved. When you think of Western Sydney and the cultural richness in this part of the world, his work is about opening up opportunities to people of all backgrounds to thrive and succeed.

“His success shows just how much untapped potential exists in communities across Greater Sydney – it’s what city building is really all about, we’re so thrilled to see him driving this from Sydney’s west.”

Designed to celebrate people whose efforts make Sydney the greatest city in the world, there are six categories: Global Sydney Culture and Business, Western Sydney Champion, City Visionary, Emerging Leader, and Unsung Hero.

The eminent judging panel for the inaugural awards include:
• Ann Sherry AO – Chair Unicef Australia and Enero Australia
• Wesley Enoch – former Director of the Sydney Festival
• Sara Mansour – Founder Bankstown Poetry Slam, Lawyer Allens
• Cameron Adams – Founder and Chief Product Officer Canva
• Brian Tyson – Managing Partner SEC Newgate Australia, Director Committee for Sydney
• Mike Baird – CEO HammondCare and former NSW Premier.

The Sydney Awards are supported by major partner SEC Newgate Australia, and award sponsors Investment NSW, Mirvac Design, DXC Technology and Coles.

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