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Business leader and philanthropist Zeeshan Hayat named 2019 Distinguished Alumnus

Entrepreneur, philanthropist and Douglas alum Zeeshan Hayat believes that every person, regardless of economic or social standing, deserves access to health care. In fact, he has made it his life’s work.

In recognition of his exceptional achievements and contributions to society, Hayat is being presented with the 2019 Douglas College Distinguished Alumni Award.

“Throughout his career, Mr. Hayat has dedicated himself to improving his community through the success of his company and particularly through feeding the homeless in the Downtown Eastside. He is an example of excellence for all of our alumni,” said Andrew Senjack, Senior Alumni Relations Coordinator at Douglas College.

Hayat is the CEO/Co-founder of Prizm Media Inc., a health care technology company that services some of the fastest growing pharmacies, durable medical equipment and health care providers in North America.

Hayat graduated from Douglas College with an Associate of Arts degree in 2001. While a student, he and his partner, Karina – now his wife – launched a website to help people access wellness products online. The venture took off and, instead of pursuing further education as originally intended, the couple decided to focus on their business.

“It was a tough decision,” Hayat said. “I had my acceptance letter from SFU in my hand, but that summer we were seeing success with our business. We said we’d give it three years, and if it didn’t work out, we could always go back to school.”

Eighteen years later, Prizm Media is one of the most trusted health care technology and media companies in the market. It has helped more than 20 million people with chronic health conditions across North America connect with health care partners to get prescription drugs, medical equipment and medical services delivered to them at their point of need.

Hayat also believes in giving back to his community. He mentors MBA students at SFU and speaks to students at Douglas College and UBC about entrepreneurship as a career path. In 2007, he co-established 100 Meals a Week and has personally delivered over 160,000 meals and necessities to homeless people in the Downtown Eastside, and is a member of the St. Paul’s Future Leaders Committee, which supports mental health and addiction programs.

“Giving back has been instilled in me since I was a child,” Hayat said. “If I saw someone in need, I always offered a hand or whatever I could. As I built up the business, I felt it was my duty to do more to help and give back.”

Hayat has received numerous awards for his work: he was the first Pakistani Canadian to receive the Business in Vancouver BC CEO Award and has been listed as one of Vancouver’s Top Forty Under 40, as well as an EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist.

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes the quality of Douglas College graduates and their contributions to the community. Hayat will be presented with the award today during the ceremony for Commerce and Business graduates.

For those grads who want to start a business or go the entrepreneurial route, Hayat says the most important thing is to not give up.

“Starting a business, being an entrepreneur, is not easy. We started with nothing – we had no experience and no funding. But we worked extremely hard to grow our business. You need a thick skin to succeed. But you also need patience. It takes time to build a business, so be patient.”

Douglas College is the largest degree-granting college in B.C., combining the academic foundations of a university and the employer-ready skills of a college to provide the most relevant and inspiring undergraduate experience in British Columbia. 

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