Asper BComm alum finishes on the podium of The Amazing Race Canada 9
Ben Chutta describes his journey before and after the Race
Since graduating from the Asper School of Business with a Bachelor of Commerce in International Business and Marketing, Ben Chutta [BComm(Hons)/15] has travelled to 52 countries across six continents, facilitated over $95 million in sales with multi-million- and billion-dollar corporations, and recently completed all 10 legs of The Amazing Race Canada Season 9 with longtime friend Anwar Ahmed.
Chutta and Ahmed competed in the finale, which aired this week, finishing in third place after a spectacular run.
From reciting alien language in Toronto and safely serving Quebecois tourtière through an obstacle course in Saguenay, to climbing, bungee jumping, free diving and lots of running, Chutta and Ahmed excelled thanks to their resiliency, pulling ahead with each leg of the race across Canada.
Chutta has always been on the move for better or for worse. He reflects on his experience growing up in Winnipeg, his parents arriving in Canada as refugees, and the struggles he faced before university.
“I didn’t have stability at a young age. I think by the time I graduated high school I had been to 10 different schools and lived in even more homes,” he explains. “There was a lot of uncertainty, and I kind of figured out how to live under those conditions. That’s probably why I was so comfortable on The Amazing Race, because you never knew what was coming next.”
If he was surviving despite all the change he experienced early in life, Chutta appears to be thriving because of it since, succeeding in international business and pursuing world travel beyond the race.
Exchange and entrepreneurship
He always had a knack for business, starting various ventures in high school and throughout university, including Me & My Dogs, his summer hot dog cart. Despite this knack, he didn’t initially see business as an option for education.
“I thought business was something you should do out in the world, not something you should take in school,” he recalls. “I took sciences for two years until I realized that learning more about business would bode well for my career and entrepreneurship.”
Fortunately for Chutta, the Asper BComm program design partially agrees with his initial impression, combining in-class training with a plethora of real-world learning opportunities outside of the classroom. He was immediately drawn to international exchange opportunities, applying to an exchange in Pécs, Hungary and then to another in Guadalajara, Mexico.
“My exchange experiences were incredible,” he says. “In Hungary, I spent a lot of time with people from different cultures. We took courses in EU business and law and international sales, and every weekend, we would backpack to a nearby country—Poland, Ukraine, Spain. In Mexico, I learned about Latin American business and how to speak Spanish. Both exchanges really opened my mind to world travel.”
After graduating from Asper, he became director of global sales (encore performance seating) at Winnipeg’s Palliser Furniture Upholstery Ltd. and received the Spirit of Winnipeg Trade Award in 2020 for his work with the organization. Despite Palliser’s local origins, the job gave Chutta far more international opportunity than he had imagined.
“Within two years of working there, I was traveling across the world and working with a fully international team,” says Chutta. “I was able to leverage the skills I learned at Asper in international business and marketing as well as the cultural awareness that I developed on my exchanges, which helped me work with potential customers in different markets.”
Mentorship with a message
When the pandemic drastically changed the nature of his work, Chutta took the opportunity to see the world. He set off on two years of globetrotting, seeing 25 countries in as many months.
He was in Australia with Ahmed when the two tossed around the idea of applying to The Amazing Race Canada—a well-timed Instagram ad shortly after this conversation prompted the two to take a chance and apply as a team.
Their leap of faith paid off, and on the show, they wear shirts with this reminder to ‘believe’ made by Zueike, a Winnipeg-based premium athletic apparel brand co-owned by another Asper BComm alum and entrepreneur, Ogo Okwumabua [BComm(Hons)/01].
Says Chutta, “when we were looking for clothing for the race, we reached out—we wanted something with a message: believe in yourself, believe in things you can’t see yet that are possible.”
Okwumabua kept up with the race and comments on how Chutta and Ahmed are making Winnipeg proud. “They were already leaders and strong representatives before the race,” says Okwumabua. “The way they’ve conducted themselves through their highs and lows is exactly what we’ve come to except from them. They’ve been amazing.”
Chutta is forthcoming about the impact of mentorship in his life. He is grateful for friends, family and community members like Okwumabua that have inspired, guided and supported him. “That leadership and mentorship got me to where I am today,” he says.
After the race
“When I think of what’s next in my trajectory, I think of paying it forward through mentorship and sharing my story to inspire others, reaching people who might see themselves in my upbringing, my struggles or my success,” says Chutta.
He hopes to pursue future speaking engagements and mentorship opportunities while showcasing his travel experiences, which he shares on his Instagram and YouTube channel, and dreams of starring in a travel series following him across Africa. He is open to what comes after the race, recognizing how far he has come.
“The trajectory that I’ve been on, that story, it’s already something that I’m really proud of,” he says.
Chutta is crafting his own story—a way to understand how his remarkable experiences culminate to something greater and to inspire those that see themselves in the highs and lows of his journey.