Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design
Degree: Digital Communication
Year of graduation: 2008
Sheridan digital communication grad Zane Westmoreland knows what it feels like to be underestimated due to his age, and he’s using that knowledge to help young entrants to the workforce polish their skills. When Westmoreland first started up his company Acadiate – a technology company designed to address employability issues among new graduates – he remembers the initial reaction from investors and other groups. “I may have been 25, but I looked 18,” he laughs. “There was a lot of pushback.”
Unwilling to let these attitudes deter him, Westmoreland is used to forging his own path. Born in Trinidad, Westmoreland’s family immigrated to Canada when he was a child. Even at an early age, he was drawn to technology. “When I was five, my father brought home a computer with DOS on it and I was hooked,” he says. “Back in the early 90’s when I was growing up, I was the only person I knew that liked computers – most of my friends didn’t get into them until high school.”
Westmoreland continued working on his passion for technology and how it could be used to solve problems. When the time came to graduate high school, he discovered the joint digital communications/digital enterprise management programs between Sheridan and the University of Toronto. “I loved the interactive aspects of tech, but there was pressure from my family to go to university,” he says. “The joint program let me do both.”
During the third and fourth years of the program at Sheridan, Westmoreland found that the hands on skills let him put the theoretical aspects he had learned at university into practice. “By my second class there, I had something that I could tangibly show other people – friends, family and potential employers – so that they could really start to see what I was doing,” he says. “I’m seeing the need for the same thing where I am now, as students look to demonstrate their skills in the job market.”
The websites he developed at Sheridan would land Westmoreland an internship at recruitment startup Jobtac Inc., where he started to see common patterns and problems with the student resumes he was reviewing. Rising to the position of chief product officer, Westmoreland began working on product design, development, marketing and management.
In 2011, convinced that he had a winning idea to help students in their job search, Westmoreland began a test pilot of the program that would become Acadiate.com, with advisory services from MaRS Discovery District in Toronto and Haltech, Halton’s regional innovation centre. Connecting with Acadiate co-founders David Murdoch and Dr. Razaq Ijaduola, Westmoreland set up a platform and a methodology to help students present themselves and their skills to time-crunched recruiters in a more targeted and polished way. Westmoreland says it’s exciting to share the lessons he’s learned throughout his career.
“It took a long time to discover that even if I saw the world one way, it doesn’t mean anything if I can’t tell people how to see it that way,” he says. “I want students to be able to show employers what they need to see to get their foot in the door.”
Learn more about Acadiate