Community builder and entrepreneur, Bijan Ahmadian, is a true leader in our community. Since moving to Canada in 1998, Bijan has obtained two degrees and his MBA from UBC, formed his own legal practice and is currently reopening the renowned Odyssey Bar & Nightclub in downtown Vancouver, an iconic landmark for the local LGBTQ community. Bijan shares more below about his personal and professional successes to date and the reason why he chose to be a member of TCC.
Can you please share a bit about yourself and your professional background?
[BA] I am a sole-practitioner corporate lawyer and I own and operate the Odyssey Bar & Nightclub, opening for business this upcoming Pride season in late July. I was born in Iran and came to Canada alone in 1998 to attend UBC. I graduated in 2012 with a degree in Engineering Physics, Law, and went on to obtain my MBA. During my tenure at UBC, I had the honour of serving as the President of the Student Society and sat on its Board of Governors. I have a passion for entrepreneurship, the performing arts and for bringing people together to achieve challenging goals.
We are very excited for the reopening of the Odyssey Bar & Nightclub this summer under your leadership. Can you tell us a bit about your vision for the nightclub?
[BA] The Odyssey was an anchor of gay nightlife in Vancouver for more than 20 years before it closed its doors in September 2010 when its lease finally expired. Our new location, opening this July, will be at 686 West Hastings Street off of Granville Street. It will be a reflection of our proud history with a design inspired by the needs expressed to us by today’s diverse LGBTQ+ community in Metro Vancouver. Our goal is to return in an accessible location and provide an inclusive space where everyone feels welcome to socialize, build lasting connections, dance, drink, perform, watch great art, grow, give back, and enjoy the company of others.
What motivated you to take on this project (Odyssey)? What have been the major challenges thus far?
[BA] I am passionate about building community, the performing arts, law, and entrepreneurship and the Odyssey project combines all four of these passions of mine. The major challenge so far has been designing and building the space almost from scratch. In this last month of construction, I have had one foot on the renovation side and one foot on the operation side of the project. I feel perpetually behind, but I am confident the Odyssey will be open for the upcoming Pride season to present the top line of international and local artists we have booked.
What would you say is your biggest professional success to date?
[BA] Firstly, drafting the Constitution of the BC Liberal Party. Secondly, would be my journey of becoming a lawyer and forming my own small practice in Vancouver. English is my second language, so language was my most challenging barrier to overcome when I first arrived in Canada to go to UBC. I actually failed first year English at UBC, and only passed it by 50% when I retook the course. I am very proud of my journey and the successes I have achieved so far.
Why did you become a member of Terminal City Club?
[BA] When I opened my legal practice, I decided to work from home to keep costs low but I needed a place for meetings. Joining the Club not only provided a stunning facility for meetings (with the additional benefit of a terrific fitness centre), but also a great networking opportunity to make new friends and find new clients. It is one of the best decisions I have made for myself, both professionally and personally.
What do you enjoy the most about the Club?
[BA] What I enjoy most about TCC is my daily experience of interacting with the staff. The Club has extraordinary staff members that go above and beyond every day making the Club my first choice of places to go for meetings, dining, and fitness.
What is a typical day for you at the Club?
[BA] I use the fitness centre three times a week and I host regular meetings at the Club, mostly over a bite to eat.
How do you spend your time outside of work?
[BA] My favourite thing to do outside of work is to meet with my family for our weekly lunch. My family moved to Canada as well so my sisters and I go to my parents’ every weekend for lunch. It gives us all a chance to catch up on our daily lives and I get to spend time playing with my two year old niece. Other than that, I enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding and cycling and love to attend the opera, ballet, symphony and musicals from time to time.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your fellow TCC members?
[BA] I have been really impressed with the quality of events at the Club, particularly with the people who I’ve met at the events and the food and beverage that is served. My advice to my fellow members is to come to more Club events! They’re certainly worth the time and the price!