Welcome to my resume. I’m Aqil Dhanani, a 31-year-old digital marketer whose worked in Canada, the United States, and Australia. I’m currently freelancing as a graphic designer under śyenācreative. I pride myself being an incredibly fast, thorough, and a competent learner: I pick up new tasks easily and am able to see both the big picture and the fine details (sometimes finer than necessary). Since my education is in English Literature, I see marketing as an extension of storytelling: advertisements are literature that people can act on, and every aspect of that literature informs how someone will act. My experience as a volunteer teacher and as a Brick Specialist have been the biggest influences on how I approach work: lead with empathy and creativity. I understand that many conflicts arise because different opinions come from different experiences, so I make sure I understand my biases and am able to see things from other perspectives. Understanding others can take time, so in professional environments, I’ve developed a few shortcuts to jump into empathetic and creative approaches.

Outside of work, I have a passion for history, philosophy and religious studies. I spend my time reading (I’m currently engrossed in British history pre-1094), writing and drawing, as well as watching fantasy and sci-fi movies and shows, and craft videos on YouTube.

Feel free to browse my full resume below, and thank you for your time and consideration.

- Aqil Dhanani


For my current work and portfolio, please visit śyenācreative


click below to download a PDF copy of my CV


Digital Marketing Specialist

Refinery Lab 2016 - 2023

Building a new website. I recently rebuilt the Refinery Lab website from the ground up, utilizing WPEngine and Elementor to create a sleek, fast, easy to use site that is consistent in brand and structure. I’ve also used Unbounce and Instapage to create landing pages, including this one for location marketing. I’m also constantly updating and optimizing the site experience for speed and usability.

Blogging. I continuously contribute to the Refinery Lab blog, covering topics ranging from digital marketing, branding, and cultural trends. My personal favorite is a three-part series relating Digital Marketing Strategy to Tabletop Gaming.

Making animations. I’ve also been able to make videos for Refinery Lab using Powtoon and Adobe XD.

Analysis and reporting. As for all our clients, I perform monthly reporting on website traffic and marketing activities so that we can refine our strategy and cater to our customers and potential customers. These analytics combine Google Analytics, Raven SEO Tools, CrazyEgg, SemRush, and platform-specific analytics.


Digitally rebranding a legacy auction company for a new age, including structuring lines of business and umbrella brands. 

PicklesGO. I helped to design an online marketplace for online car sales, on both the website and social media. To help with this transition, I also created the PicklesGO brand and accompanying materials to help educate customers on a new avenue of sales, including posters, landing pages, and videos.

Pickles Partner Portal. As a legacy company, Pickles has fostered a relationship with banks and insurance companies across Australia. Part of the partnership includes offering exclusive cars and deal to shared clients, but it was a long and involved process. I helped to develop the Pickles Partner Portal, which allows agents to quickly and easily find cars for their clients. This project involved creating websites with shared branding as well as an educational campaign, involving animation (which I wrote and animated).

Communicating. In addition to large, overarching projects I also worked on ad-hoc ads, creating brochures, landing pages, email templates, posters, and signage to be used across Australia, New Zealand, and Malaysia.

Pickles Ventures. As a member of the Refinery Lab team, I was able to assist car based startups at the ground level, building a brand, website, and early communications, including PicklesAsia, Iungo, Datium, and Carzapp. I also built the branding for PicklesVentures, the umbrella for these new startups.


Rebranding.  Working off a single commissioned logo, I built a brand guide for this Australian agricultural company. Working closely with the founder, I developed a system for labeling products to maintain brand consistency as well as recognizability. See the new labels here.

Communicating. Early on, I also helped to restructure Converte’s CRM and communications, creating a consistent database in Mailchimp to handle contact information and creating a few email templates.

Stabilis Solutions

Customer outreach: I created and managed landing pages and social media posts to promote their service.

Building a new website: I also supervised the creation of a new website (along with a new brand) as well as a Spanish-language version. 

Examples of landing page: Marine Bunkering 

Ad-Hoc Marketing

Carnegie Technologies: I helped to design the website for Denali Publishing, including look-and-feel and copy.

Emily Volk: I created a logo, brand, printed materials, and website for Dr Volk’s 2019 campaign for President of the College of American Pathologists Board of Governors.

Kenyans Come Home: I created a social media ad campaign targeted towards African professionals

ListingLogic: I created marketing materials, reports, and usage samples to help bring this real estate platform to North America.

Mobilosoft: With Refinery Lab’s exclusive partnership, I’m helping bring this Belgian location marketing platform to North America and Australia.

ClearWell Dynamics: I rebranded the company after its change from Pioneer Energy Services, and set up their local marketing pages.

Workforce Solutions: I set up their local marketing pages.

SecureWorx: I created a new website for this tech startup, along with refining the brand and graphic design.

SparkCentral: I created graphics for social media.

Brick Specialist

LEGO Brand Retail 2014 - 2016

Promote creativity and facilitate building instruction. Promote, sell, and represent LEGO Brand and products to customers. Explain and demonstrate features of LEGO products. Organising and increasing efficiency in backroom organisation and front-of-house restocking. Basic cleaning and electrical repair in order to preserve appearance of front-of-house.


Secondary Co-Teacher

2018 - 2021 - ITREB ANZ, ITREB Florida


Primary REC

Head of Instruction - Sydney

As the head of instruction, I got to work with primary teachers in Sydney Jamatkhana. The most pressing issue (leading to my appointment) was a clash of cultures between teachers who borrowed pedagogy from South Asia and students who were born and raised in Australia. Using the Ta’lim curriculum as a foundation, I was able to help teachers adopt a student-focused pedagogy that favored learning over memorization.

Teacher Trainer - Sydney

Before becoming the head of instruction, I was paired with a first-time teacher for grade two. I helped her feel more comfortable with the students, and with how to find supplementary resources based on the curriculum and the students’ knowledge base.

Teacher - Sydney

Teaching Isma’ili history, practices, philosophy, and literature to primary school children. Creating lesson plans and activities to supplement lessons. Managing a classroom setting. Creating and distributing communications to parents on a regular basis.

Co-Vice Principal - Calgary

During my time as a teacher, I created a weekly newsletter for parents that included analytical questions for parents to ask their kids, as well as supplemental resources to reinforce the week’s learning. These newsletters received such positive feedback that I was brought onto the admin team as co-vice principal to recreate these newsletters for all classes. I documented the process for ITREB so the practice could be shared with other BUI centres. Download documentation and appendices.

Teacher Trainer - Calgary

While I’ve held many roles in religious education, my priority has always been the classroom. After my first year of teaching, I was recruited to help a first-time teacher in grade three. While I was co-vice principal, I insisted on staying in the classroom. I was paired with another first-time teacher in grade five. With both teachers, we coordinated class every week and debriefed after to ensure that we were on the same page with pedagogy and resources. She’s a primary teacher in secular school now, so I guess that’s good.

Teacher - Calgary

Teaching Isma’ili history, practices, philosophy, and literature to primary school children. Creating lesson plans and activities to supplement lessons. Managing a classroom setting. Creating and distributing communications to parents on a regular basis.

After Dark

For this Jamatkhana lock-in, I was brought onto the team early to help the STEP teacher create content for both students and parents. With a focus on “Mind, Body, & Soul” I worked to create impactful and meaningful content. On the night of the event, I also coordinated a team of eight volunteers.


In order to set the mood for parents and students, our introductory activity adopted the story of Farid ad-Din Attar’s Conference of the Birds. I wrote and performed a spoken-word poem that summarizes the story, while other counsellors acted out tableaus of each scene.

activity one

We wanted students to dive headfirst into an empathetic mindset. We set the mood in darkened classrooms with a slideshow of some current events. We used music and imagery to set an introspective mood. Afterward, we shared stories of personal struggle with different age groups. I wrote both stories, one is presented here, acted out by a friend of mine. 

activity two

We then asked the participants to create questions that they could ask other people. We then traded questions to see how they could be answered from another point of view. Pulling from an activity called “He Said, She Said” from when I was a participant in Camp al-Ummah, we then traded questions between the parents and the students. After reinforcing the idea of empathy, and being able to see things from perspectives different from ours, the students and parents joined together to share their thoughts and feelings with each other, in a forum that (we assumed, but it was later confirmed by participants) they hadn’t had before.

activity three

For this event, we needed to have a specifically religious activity approved. In order to continue the theme of personal expression, I designed an activity based around the Asma alHusna: the 99 Names of God. After introducing students to the significance and origins of the 99 Names, we allowed them time to explore the names, their translations, and their contexts (the Qur’anic verses in which they appear). We asked them to choose one name that resonates with them the most, and they first created an art piece to reflect their understanding of the name. Then as a time to socialize, they participants made tasbihs; the final touch was embossing a headbead with the name they had chosen, so they could keep it with them and contemplate on their connection.


graphic design

I was brought on board through my involvement with Secondary REC, as a designer for posters and emails to advertise the Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board Lock-In for Orlando and Tampa.

content coordination

Early on in the process, STEP staff was asked to create content for the overnight camp. Since the students were familiar with Harry Potter (they often visited the Wizarding-themed amusement park nearby), I outlined a night of activities inspired by the books that sought to grow the “strength” of the participants: physical strength, spiritual strength, mental strength, personal strength, and social strength. I’ve already written about the overlap between the Harry Potter series and Isma’ili thought, I thought it would be interested to use Hogwarts as a framing device for Isma’ili practice. AKYSB decided later to reuse activities from other centers instead of trying something new, but I was able to salvage one activity (involving the 99 Names of God) for a future Lock-In.


On the night of the event, I acted as a counselor and helped to coordinate activities. Since I had the most experience with Isma’ili camps on the team, I fell into a leadership role to help guide the other counselors and manage participants.

Camp Darwaz

Content Coordinator

Each year, Camp Darwaz inspires the children of Australia and New Zealand. This year, the theme was Exploration. I was brought onto the content team, along with two others, and tasked with creating 4 activities for the four-day camp. We decided on splitting the camp into two sub-themes: exploration of the past and exploration of the future. I created two activities (for different age groups) around the idea of archaeology and two activities around the idea of space exploration.

Archeology: I created an activity that allowed younger participants to piece together a story, using “artifacts” found in a dig site. Using illustrations from Northern India (curated by the Aga Khan Museum) I created small murals on wood slats, cut them into pieces, and hid them in patties of homemade sandstone. The participants would dig through the sandstone in order to find the pieces and try to understand what stories the murals are telling, just as archaeologists do with historical art.

For the older participants, I created a more “adventurous activity”: an escape room where the clues were hidden in historical artifacts. These artifacts included ancient Greek astronomy charts, Fatimid medical books, wooden sculptures, and old maps. The participants dug through an archaeological site to find the clues and try to piece them together.

Space Exploration: The overarching story for this activity was that participants were assisting in building an Ismaili Center on Mars. The younger participants were tasked with getting the supplies into orbit, while the older participants had to safely get the supplies to the surface. After a basic lesson on aerodynamics and air pressure, participants created their own rockets, built around a plastic water bottle. The water bottles were then launched using a bike pump. The older participants used various craft supplies to build landing modules for eggs. It was the classic activity of preventing an egg from breaking, but we were fortunate enough to acquire a scissor lift to drop the eggs.

To add a layer of authenticity, I got my brother to play an astronaut in transmission videos from the space station. Because the participants don’t know my brother, they were excited by the prospect of working with an astronaut. I wrote the script for the videos and edited them as well.

For this activity, I also created a logo for our space program: Darwaz Astronomical Base (DAB). Of course, the participants at the time like the “dab” dance move, so this design worked on two levels.

Camp al-Ilm

Activity Coordinator

I was appointed as Activity Coordinator after counselor training for Camp al-Ilm. My responsibilities included supervising counselors, conflict deescalation, and facilitating content.

Management: During the camp, I oversaw a team of first-time counselors. I helped them work as a team as well as teach skills for engaging with teenagers.

Physical Activity: For morning exercises, I was tasked with choreographing a Zumba dance and then immediately teach it to almost 50 participants and staff members.

al-Azhar Camp

This was my first experience as a camp counselor (as a hopeful applicant of the Institute of Ismaili Studies Secondary Teacher Education Program). My responsibilities included overall supervision of participants, running creative activities, and working with STEP teachers to deliver educational content. I had already been a primary Bait ul-Ilm teacher leading up to this, but I discovered a whole new environment, and a whole new way of teaching through overnight camps. Participants have a completely different mentality than students in a classroom, and I learned how to play off their energy to build excitement and engagement.

In addition to normal counselor duties, I also spent some time connecting with some participants in small groups, listening to concerns they had about their religion and their lives. I was quickly and naturally able to create a safe space for these participants to be able to share openly and honestly. And their relationships with each other grew stronger because of it. I’ve been able to carry on these lessons into the classroom (to a certain extent) but mostly to the other camps that I’ve worked in.


Creative Skills: Creative Writing, Technical Writing, Graphic Design, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving

Digital Skills: Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office, Google Suite, Email and CRM, Data Analysis, Web Design

Interpersonal Skills: Leadership, Budget and Timeline, Communication, Empathetic Reasoning, Multidisciplinary Background

Web Design: Squarespace, Wordpress, WPEngine, Elementor, Wix, Unbounce, Abode Dreamweaver, Drupal, GoDaddy, Webflow, Google Sites, Wild Apricot

Creative Tools: Adobe Creative Cloud, Audible, iMovie/Windows Movie Maker, Final Cut Pro, Director, Garageband, Sketchup, and more...

CRM: Mailchimp, Sharpspring, Hubspot

Analytics Tools: Google Analytics, Raven SEO, SEMRush, Spyfu, social media analytics


Bachelor of Arts - English

2016 - University of Calgary

Throughout my degree, I explored science, language, and history. I originally attended the University of Calgary for a physics/education joint degree. However, due to the differences of math and science standards between the United States and Canada, I transferred to English. I studied literature from the last thousand years, from Beowulf and Canterbury tales in their original languages, to contemporary Canadian literature.


I spent the first three semesters of university studying physics, algebra, and biology. But after transferring, I still did two semesters of astronomy and one semester of energy physics. Astronomy covered, basically, the physics of the cosmos, from gravity and planetary motion, to mapping the stars outside of our solar system. Energy physics was largely focused on practical, and sometimes political applications of physics and the impact of energy sciences on society.


As a second language requirement, I opted into the university’s first Arabic classes; part of their new Arabic Language and Muslim Civilizations department. I took two semesters of Modern Standard Arabic, which has greatly helped my reading and pronunciation, as well as my ability to parse Arabic words and phrases with Arabic resources. Afterwards, I took one semester of Arabic linguistics to understand the geographical and historical differences of language within the Arab world. My research for this class was around the regional pronunciation of the hamzah (ء) in both Arabic and it’s unmarked equivalent in American and Canadian English. In addition to these Arabic classes, I also joined a Muslim literature class which explored the stories of Muslim women in various contexts around the world, although all those texts were in English.

special topics

I was able to spend three semesters studying high-level special topics in science fiction, humor, and comics. Two of my works were submitted for the Kaleidoscope Award which recognizes creative and critical literary works from Calgary. One was an analysis of Samuel Beckett’s fourth-wall interplay and its affects on the audience. The other was a 71-page comic book on mental health, which was also submitted to Princeton’s graphic medicine department.

Google Digital Garage

This course covers the basics of setting up a business’s online presence, including building a website, optimizing for search and local marketing, and maintaining communication.

Marketing Automation Certificate

Certificate in marketing automation, including email creation, landing page building, CRM and customer service automation, and the tools that SharpSpring uses. I’ve also completed all the training SharpSpring has to offer, you can download a full report to the right.