Alumni Spotlight: Hala Bissada

Hospitality and Tourism Management ’91, President & CEO, Hala Events & Communications

International award-winning event planner, Hala Bissada, has been back on campus putting her professional skills to work for Ryerson launching the first-ever Gould Street Party on Oct. 18. In this Alumni spotlight, Hala reflects on her time at Ryerson and shares some great career advice for students. 

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How are you involved with the Gould St. Party?

I’m the Chair of the Gould St. Party.

What are you most looking forward to during Alumni Weekend?

Connecting with fellow alumni.  I’m also looking forward to welcoming Alumni to the inaugural Gould Street Party.  We wanted to add an event to Alumni Weekend that was fun and entertaining and that would appeal to a large cross-section of Alumni. Given it is also open to current students, it will be nice to have an event where both groups can socialize together

What did you study at Ryerson and what year did you graduate?

I graduated from Hospitality and Tourism in 1991.

What made you choose that program?

I was studying English Literature at U of T and just didn’t know what I wanted to do with that degree. I was working at the Keg Restaurants at the time to put myself through school and it was a customer who recommended the program. I looked into it and decided it was exactly what I was looking for.

What do you do now?

I’m an event planner and own by own business.

What personal qualities/attributes are important in your job?

The ability to connect with people and build relationships.  Being detail-orientated, strategic and creative.

What special advice would you give to a student entering this field?

It’s a tough field and not as glamourous as you might think.  If you are truly interested you need to demonstrate your willingness to pay your dues.  It’s also right time right place—volunteer your time, be willing to intern etc.

What is the most important thing you took away from your experience at Ryerson?

Project management.  The importance of working as a team to create a great end product, managing your time and writing solid proposals.

Is there anything you wish they taught you at Ryerson?

Within my program – how to run a business. For example do’s and don’ts – real life stuff about the trials and tribulations.

How do you stay motivated?

I’m an optimistic person to begin with it. I’ve been through very tough times starting my business…I almost lost everything once, the business, my home…I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore…I stay motivated by having a plan and trying to stick to it

What, in your opinion, are the keys to success?

Perseverance, building relationships.  Doing your homework and putting in the time.  If building a business were easy everyone would be doing it.

Do you have any final advice for students?

If you can, find something you love doing and try to turn it into a job/career.  I was lucky, I knew what I wanted to do since I was a young teenager and I had an aptitude for it.  I wish that for everyone.

The Gould Street Party is open to alumni and students on October 18th!