When Leena Manro was a successful practicing lawyer in Calgary, she dreamed of doing more, and following her heart’s song to pursue her passion for acting. Upon moving to Vancouver, she became an award nominated actress, toured international film festivals, and co-wrote and co-founded the first South Asian sketch comedy show I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Chicken, which brought sell-out crowds for five years running.
While pursuing her passion, she realized that she also needed another job to supplement her income. Coincidentally, the director of a training video she did for IBM asked offered her a part-time contractor job and hired her 3 weeks later. The role evolved into full-time consulting, directing and producing role, and the basis for a new company: All Purpose Creative, a Vancouver-based media design agency that specializes in creating engaging media design solutions.
As a co-founder and Director, Leena’s team currently has 30 designers, and is on an accelerated growth path to meet the high demand of online content strategy required by corporations. She writes, directs and creates media and video for both promotional and training content by injecting comedy and whimsy wherever she can, clearly a winning strategy for global giants like IBM who continue knocking on their doors. She’s worked on at least 40 videos (as a writer, director and /or producer) over the last four years.
Birthplace: Grand Prairie Alberta
Emigrated: moved to Vancouver in 2008. I moved here to pursue my dream, but I think my dream pursued me. I couldn’t escape it and I have never been happier.
Highest Level of Education: Law degree LLB from University of Windsor, Bachelor of Commerce at University of Calgary.
Currently Reading: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and Becoming by Michelle Obama. As a woman in leadership, these books are soooo good, inspiring in different ways, about how women need to sit the table, but we don’t need to lose kindness and heart in the face of adversity.
Favourite Past-time: Writing stand-up comedy. I love making other people laugh. I write all of my own characters – my favourites are Dirty Aunty who…um never mind. I have another set of characters which are Dirty Hippies who… wait, what is this magazine rated?
Toughest professional decision:
Whether or not to follow my heart or follow the lack of funds in my bank account. I followed my heart and ironically, the bank account filled up! Sure, I struggled for a couple of years, but that led me to my dream job. What appeared to be struggles were actually blessings.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I wanted to be an actress, but I tried to find a practical career with law instead. And I wanted to not have so much body hair. Go for your dreams, it will all be okay because the universe really does have your back. And go for a good waxing Leena, please, just do it for yourself (and those you love).
What does the future look like?
Bringing light and love to the world through my voice and my heart and continuing to work with my brilliant team. We are like a family and we treat our clients with empathy and care. You just need to care about your people and your work, and you will find real, lasting joy!