Name: Bassem Fadlia
Occupation: Business Intelligence Analyst
Where we found him: Facebook
You reached out to “friend” me on Facebook, and I immediately asked you to be in the magazine. Too much, too soon? I think being familiar with the column made it easier. And there have been a couple times that the Post Bulletin or other news sources have reached out to me when something happens in Egypt or the Middle East. I’m on the board at the Islamic Center, so I’ve been interviewed before.
You’re from Egypt? I’m from Alexandria, Egypt. It’s like 5 million people, so even the Twin Cities is small to me. It’s on the Mediterranean, so I’m used to having beaches. Egypt is more known for pyramids, but we have amazing beaches. I’ve been to Florida, California, but nothing compares to the ones in Egypt. To come from that to Foster Arends … it’s a bit of a disappointment!
What brought you to Rochester? In 1999-2000, there were Y2K problems, a big dot-com bubble, and with both, there was a shortage of computer people. We used to have a lot of recruiters come to Egypt, and that’s what brought me in the beginning. I lived in Indiana, then Miami, then moved to Rochester in 2004. And there was a year in Canada before that.
Best place to live between those cities? (And remember, you’re talking to Rochester Magazine.) For fun, certainly Miami. But it has its downsides, like safety. In Miami, I’d see on the news that someone got mugged at this ATM. And I’d have been at that ATM 30 minutes earlier. There are trade offs. I would like to visit Miami a lot, but live here in Rochester.
Where did you meet your wife? In Egypt. She came with me to Miami, and then we moved here. I had already been in the U.S. for a couple of years when we met. When you hear “arranged marriage,” you think, “oh, someone picked a wife for you,” but it’s not like that in our generation. It’s like having blind dates, but you’ve both set your mind that you’re serious. You can meet for weeks or months before you decide to get married.
What was your first date like? We met in a coffee shop and talked for an hour, telling about our lives, telling interesting and funny stories.
When’s the last time you were in your hometown? 2018. My wife and kids go more often. Plus, three years previous to 2018, it was during my immigration process, and that’s a sticky situation whenever you have to travel. You think: “Is my immigration status going to be affected by this travel?” I’m a male from the Middle East, so an incident can happen and they’d say, “Let’s tighten this so he can’t go back.” I became a citizen in 2016. So I can go wherever I want now.
How was the immigration process? Very long and painful and costly. I applied in 2005. I got my permanent residence in 2011, and you get citizenship five years after that.
Tell me about your family? Nahla and I have three boys, 16, 13, and 4. They were all born here in Rochester: Muhammad, Murad, Nour. It’s exhausting having teenagers and one still acting like a toddler!
Perfect Saturday afternoon? Playing soccer. These days I’m mostly coaching, and I referee, too. I still play—I have a lot of soccer friends—but not regularly on a team. I coach one of John Marshall’s teams, and this summer I’m going to coach a women’s team, a club called Rochester United.
Do your boys play? The oldest plays football. He’s the kicker on his team—so he can kick the ball, but he doesn’t want to play soccer. I failed with him! The second one is into it and plays at a competitive level. The four-year-old hasn’t started yet.
Advice you give your kids? It’s not enough to be smart. You have to work hard.
What is something I’d be surprised to learn about you? Even people who know me are surprised that my childhood sport was high level in judo.
What does a business intelligence analyst do? We get data, analyze it and make it presentable so that managers can make decisions quickly—so they can visualize the data easily and make decisions based on that information. I’d previously worked in IT at Mayo, and this job is something between IT and analytics.
Are you working from home? Before the pandemic, my area worked 50 percent from home. Now we’re permanently at home. It has its perks. You can wake up 15 minutes before work and you’re ready. And there’s no worrying about parking. I have 16 years with Mayo and I still don’t have parking!
Scariest moment? We moved to a new house in 2012, when our [middle son] was four. We’d just moved in and were opening all our boxes, and suddenly our four-year-old was gone. We couldn’t find him. We were looking all over the house, screaming his name, running inside and outside, asking our new neighbors—and nothing. For half an hour. And then we discovered he’d fallen asleep in a big pile of laundry in the corner, and was completely covered. He was sound asleep.