The first few weeks of 2024 have been busy as the Profound Impact team continues to work with universities and colleges and industry partners across Canada to deploy our AI-powered Research Impact tool, which matches researchers with the best research funding opportunities in their field and helps find industry partners to support successful grant applications. Through our innovative new partnership with CS-Can|Info-Can, the first of a series of collaborations with researchers across Canada, Profound Impact is providing CS-Can|Info-Can member Computer Science departments and researchers with free evaluations of Research Impact. Interested in learning more about Research Impact? You can view a video here or sign up for a live demonstration during one of the bi-weekly Demo Days that the Profound Impact team will be presenting throughout 2024.
I was pleased to share my insights on building Profound Impact’s team and our successful and healthy small business culture in the Grow a Small Business podcast. Profound Impact and my work were also featured in an edition of Women’s Biz podcast, where I talked about my journey in information security, my role in commercializing Elliptic Curve Cryptography, and the inspiration behind founding Profound Impact.
In August of 2023, Profound Impact announced the successful close of a $3.125 million pre-seed funding round of nearly all female investors, including many first-time angel investors. Inspired by this achievement, I joined forces with Profound Impact board chair Deborah Rosati and Lara Zink, VP of Client Service and Development at Delaney Capital Management, to create Women Funding Women Inc. (WFW). This collective, which challenges the status quo in the venture capital world and with first-time female angel investors by breaking barriers and building bridges for a more inclusive investment community, will launch in Toronto on February 7. You can read more about how WFW plans to change the VC landscape in Disruption Magazine’s recent article.
In this month’s Impact Story, you’ll meet WFW co-founder Lara Zink and learn more about her journey from working as a political aide to a successful career in finance. In our Researcher Spotlight, we profile Dr. Luigi Benedicenti, Professional Engineer, researcher and Dean of the Faculty of Computer Science at the University of New Brunswick, whose career took him from Genoa, Italy to Regina, Saskatchewan to Atlantic Canada.
We hope you enjoy this month’s edition of Profound Connections!
Dr. Luigi Benedicenti joined the research community in Canada after receiving his Laurea in Electrical Engineering and Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Genoa in Italy. A Professional Engineer licensed in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick and a licensed Italian Engineer, Luigi joined the University of New Brunswick as Dean of the Faculty of Computer Science, Canada’s original faculty of computer science, in 2017.
Luigi’s interest in software engineering was sparked in high school when he worked on a version of a computer game being developed by Electronic Arts. The game was never released, but his appreciation for making and playing games led him to study computer engineering in his hometown of Genoa. “My father, who was a surgeon, was devastated when I didn’t follow in his career footsteps,” says Luigi. “But he did support me as I followed my passion.”
His journey from Italy to Canada came as a result of his academic supervisor’s move from Genoa to Calgary. Luigi traveled to Calgary to meet with his supervisor while completing his Ph.D. and applied for positions in Canada after graduation. He started his tenure at the University of Regina in 1998 as a lecturer. “When I landed in Regina, I didn’t have the right clothes. I was prepared for the weather in Calgary, but not for Regina’s temperatures of -30 to -50 degrees. The wind was so cold and deep that my eyelids froze the first time I walked to work!”
Luigi describes his 19 years at the University of Regina, where he served as a professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and terms as Associate Dean for Special Projects, Associate Vice-President, Academic, and on the university’s Board of Governors as faculty representative, as an unforgettable experience during which he learned a lot and was afforded many opportunities for growth and innovation. While in Saskatchewan, Luigi developed strong connections with industry through his participation as a board member for SpringBoard West Innovations and SaskInteractive and as a Research Professor at TRLabs, where he conducted research in software engineering, mobile agents and media provision for 11 years.
“Being an academic involves, by definition, a relationship with the public. We are contributing to the common good and there are many ways to do that. Ours is a collective effort that has a significant impact – both via our research findings and through preparation of the next generation of researchers through teaching,” notes Luigi. “I love teaching and research in more or less equal measure. They provide a nice balance and generate ideas as I move from one to the other. Teaching often provides surprising insights to my research.”
Luigi’s research focuses on Software Agents, Software Process, and New Media Technology and he specializes in program management and technology transfer. His interdisciplinary work has provided opportunities to collaborate with colleagues in Europe, South East Asia and across North America. Although his role as Dean limits the time he is able to devote to research, Luigi continues to publish regularly, run conferences and symposia in his field, and has been a member of the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) from 2014 to 2021. “Being on a national accreditation board has been an exciting and challenging experience and I am humbled by my colleagues, who always bring contributions of the highest quality,” he says.
He is proud of the research excellence within the Faculty of Computer Science. “The Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity is one of the top three such research institutes in Canada,” notes Luigi. The outstanding young researchers within the institute balance between pure and applied research and provide immediate technology transfer to industry members through graduates who join those companies.
Spectral, UNB’s spatial computing training and research lab, combines virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality to bring together the digital and physical. Under the leadership of Dr. Scott Bateman, the lab conducts research with applications in areas including aerospace, health training, therapy and rehabilitation. “It’s one of the best User Interface/Human Computing research labs in North America,” says Luigi.
One of the faculty’s newest research ventures, the Research Institute in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (RIDSAI), was developed in response to New Brunswick’s needs in the areas of AI and data science. “RIDSAI does more than conduct pure research,” says Luigi. “The institute is developing algorithms, applications and literacy in machine learning and data science to graduate students who will have the tools to succeed in a world that relies on these technologies.” RIDSAI researchers from a range of disciplines work to develop solutions for community and industry partners in areas ranging from policy and planning to entertainment, agriculture and health.
Luigi is deeply committed to excellence in the classroom and collaborative decision-making and is appreciative of the flexibility, interest and engagement of the members of the Faculty of Computer Science at the University of New Brunswick. “We can do something great and everyone can contribute in their own way,” he says. “Our collaborative culture leads to the good of the faculty as we work together on the mission and targets identified in the vision document we developed almost four years ago.”
A self-described passionate computer geek who loves programming, software engineering, computers, video games, and everything IT, Luigi also enjoys playing and creating music, traveling, and e-biking and is a pizza aficionado. As for his future plans, he says: “There are three stages to a career. I am exiting the middle and starting to prepare for the final stage. For me, retirement is about choice. I plan to work on research that has been postponed, experiment with pizza dough and enjoy hiking, skiing and life in general.”
It was serendipity that brought Lara Zink from Vancouver to the University of Western Ontario (now Western University) and the keen interest she developed in politics in grades 11 and 12 led her to study political science. “I visited a great aunt in London while in high school and thought the Western campus was amazing,” says Lara.
Lara’s journey, from graduating with an Honours BA degree in political science to working as part of the federal government team that negotiated the NAFTA agreement to a long and successful career in finance, was a non-traditional one. Her experience makes her a role model dedicated to helping women overcome barriers to entry and to ensure that leadership, representation, and gender equity exist within the finance industry.
Lara’s degree in political science and experience working with the Young Conservatives as a teenager led to a role as political assistant to federal Member of Parliament Michael Wilson, then Minister of International Trade and Industry Canada. “I loved my two years working in Ottawa,” says Lara. “I was able to speak with members of Parliament and their staff about the benefits of NAFTA to Canada and traveled to Washington for the final stages of negotiation of the agreement.”
After two years on Parliament Hill, Lara wrote the GMAT exam and applied to business schools, including the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto where she ultimately earned her MBA. Although she had hoped to return to Vancouver after graduation, job opportunities were more plentiful in Toronto. After considering options in marketing and private wealth, Lara chose to enter a corporate lending training program with RBC in Toronto. She started in business banking and moved to another lending group in RBC’s financial institutions group before embarking on a 20-year career in global equity sales and trading on the trading floor at RBC Capital Markets.
When she left RBC in 2019, Lara paused and considered her next career move. “While exploring job opportunities during the pandemic lockdown, I threw my name in the hat for the position of President and Chief Executive Officer of Women in Capital Markets,” says Lara. She joined WCM, the largest network of women in finance whose mission is to accelerate equity, diversity and inclusion in finance, in 2021. Lara led WCM in developing programs to unite the finance industry in supporting EDI in capital markets and delivering research, programming and strategic value to the organization’s sponsors, members and stakeholders.
Lara left WCM in September of 2023 to join a woman-led asset management company, Delaney Capital Management, where she currently serves as Vice President of Client Service and Development.
Lara’s commitment to embracing equity and helping women succeed, both in the finance sector and as company founders, is reflected in her role as a member of the board of Canadian Women’s Network, where she will work to help Canadian female founders grow and secure funding. She recently joined Sherry Shannon-Vanstone and Deborah Rosati to create Women Funding Women (WFW), a collective aimed at addressing the persistent funding gap faced by women founders in North America.
WFW, which will launch on February 7 in Toronto, brings together organizations and resources committed to empowering women, offering gender equality, and catalyzing economic growth by increasing access to seed funding for women-led ventures. Lara’s vast experience in capital markets and her passion for driving change and ensuring women’s success is key to the work that WFW will do to increase access to funding for women founders.
Lara’s professional success in the finance sector, her belief that strategy and culture differentiate organizations, and her work as a leader and mentor for women – as entrepreneurs, funders and investors – have made her an influential champion for equity, diversity and inclusion, and a powerful initiator of change for women’s access to venture funding.
A recent partnership between CS-Can|Info-Can and tech startup Profound Impact creates the potential for Computer Science researchers to access new sources of funding.
WATERLOO, ON | JANUARY 23, 2024— Profound Impact™ Corporation, a technology company based in the Toronto-Waterloo corridor, is excited to announce its partnership with CS-Can|Info-Can, an organization with over 60 member Computer Science departments across Canada that aims to foster excellence in Computer Science research and higher education.
As part of this partnership, Profound Impact will provide CS-Can|Info-Can member Computer Science departments and researchers with free evaluations of Research Impact, Profound Impact’s AI-driven researcher to funding matching tool. Research Impact uses proprietary AI-powered algorithms to match industry and academic researchers with the over $300-billion available in funding opportunities worldwide.
“We are thrilled to embark on this transformative partnership with Profound Impact™ Corporation, as it signifies a significant stride forward for our CS-Can|Info-Can members. Profound Impact’s commitment to providing free evaluations of Research Impact, their cutting-edge AI-driven researcher-to-funding matching tool, aligns perfectly with our mission to foster excellence in Computer Science research and higher education across Canada. This collaboration opens doors for our member Computer Science departments and researchers, addressing the funding challenges that often hinder the expansion of vital research initiatives. We believe this partnership marks the beginning of a fruitful series of collaborations, empowering our members to achieve their funding goals and contribute to the advancement of Computer Science research in Canada.” says Gina van Dalen, Executive Director CS-Can|Info-Can.
This partnership with CS-Can|Info-Can is the first of a series of collaborations with researchers across Canada as Profound Impact works with industry leaders and researchers to initiate new research funding connections to help Canadian research institutions and their partners meet their funding goals.
“Computer Science research drives technological innovation. Yet many researchers and departments struggle to find funding to continue and expand their research,” says Profound Impact President & CEO, Dr. Sherry Shannon-Vanstone. “We are excited to offer this solution to the CS-Can|Info-Can membership. We all succeed when researchers get the funding they need to continue to innovate.”
ABOUT PROFOUND IMPACT™ CORPORATION
Based in the Toronto-Waterloo technology corridor, Profound Impact’s AI-powered tool – Research Impact – helps academic and industry researchers find the perfect funding match. With over $300 Billion in research funding opportunities, 100,000s industry partners and 8.8 Million researchers globally, finding the optimal grant for academic and industry innovators is often overwhelming and unnecessarily time-consuming. More than just a search engine, Research Impact offers automatic, targeted and timely matching. Profound Impact’s customers include top North American research institutions, universities and industry partners. CEO and Founder Sherry Shannon-Vanstone is a serial technology entrepreneur with an unparalleled track record. She has had five successful start-ups and exits in Silicon Valley and Canada, including two IPOs and acquisitions.
CS-Can|Info-Can counts among its members more than 60 Canadian organizations active in computing research: academic departments of computer science and computer engineering; laboratories and centres in industry, government, and academia; and affiliated professional societies. CS-Can|Info-Can works with these organizations to represent the computing research community and to effect change that benefits both computing research and society at large.
Profound Impact is excited to start the new year with the announcement of a new partnership with CS-Can|Info-Can, a professional organization representing more than 60 Computer Science departments and faculties across Canada.
CS-Can|Info-Can and Profound Impact worked together in 2023 to produce two webinars on researcher and industry collaboration. Recordings of those webinars are available for viewing here.
This new partnership provides an exciting benefit to the CS-Can|Info-Can members – a free evaluation of Research Impact, which uses advanced AI to match researchers with the best research funding opportunities in their field and helps find industry partners to support successful grant applications.
Would you like to see Research Impact in action? You can view a video here or sign up for a live demonstration during one of the bi-weekly Demo Days that the Profound Impact team will be presenting throughout 2024.
This month, we’re proud to present profiles of two 2023 Impactful Action Award finalists. These finalists exemplify what it means to make a profound impact in the world, and we are honoured to share their stories. You’ll meet Leigh Zachary Bursey, an activist, journalist, former three-term politician, singer-songwriter, recording artist, and author, and Lynn Smith, a proud member of the Peavine Métis Settlement who is leading her northern community through a significant change to take control over monitoring the impact of climate change on their land and waterways.
The Profound Impact team is excited about our plans for 2024 and looks forward to sharing those with you. Enjoy this month’s edition of Profound Connections and best wishes for a productive and happy new year!
International best-selling author, loss prevention officer, research consultant, supportive housing program coordinator, community organizer and journalist. Through these roles, Leigh Zachary Bursey has engaged with vulnerable people and worked to amplify their voices to produce social change.
Leigh has never shied away from tackling challenging social topics such as homelessness, mental health, harm reduction and allied support for the LGBTQIA – and for him, this work is personal. “My mother and I dealt with homelessness while I was in high school, giving me an early education in trauma and desperation,” notes Leigh. “As a result, I understood early on that I wanted to help people.”
It was while standing calf-deep in snow at a bus stop in Brockville, Ontario and realizing that this was a daily experience for many people that Leigh decided to run for city council. “I used my punk rock ethos, music background and big mouth to go out and make a difference,” says Leigh.
During his three terms as Brockville city councillor, Leigh participated in important discussions about social justice issues including gender equity, homelessness, mental health, harm reduction and affordable housing. “I was tagged as the punk rock councillor and was called by people in crisis to help. That experience provided powerful, hands-on experience in dealing with the circumstances and traumas of others,” he said.
Leigh’s passion for community development and helping those who are often marginalized and in need of support is reflected in his work. In addition to his role as a city councillor, Leigh has served as Vice-President of the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association, and as a Child Protection Support Worker for Family and Children Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville, and for Cornerstone Landing Youth Services in Lanark County. He has worked in youth homeless shelters and adult warming centres, advocating for naloxone training and increased harm reduction supports, and has been a vocal supporter of increased public transit hours and of adding operating dollars to local library budgets.
A highlight of Leigh’s career was speaking at the International Journal on Homelessness Symposium in Chicago in 2023. “I presented case studies that told the stories of rough sleepers – putting a name and a face to homelessness. Some of the rough sleepers I’ve worked with are the most incredible people I’ve known. I have come to understand that my lived experience is trivial in comparison,” says Leigh.
Leigh has shared his research findings as a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Canadian Rural and Remote Housing and Homelessness Symposium, the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness Conference, the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention National Conference and the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association National Congress.
The focus of Leigh’s work has been to represent marginalized people in order to communicate their challenges and share their ideas for change to develop scalable solutions that can be replicated across borders. He has challenged stigmas and amplified the voices of the people he works with through outreach and engagement. “When asked what I do, I often say that I love people who are sometimes hard to love,” says Leigh. “I encourage people to make better decisions.”
Leigh’s dedication to advocating for the most vulnerable in the community is exemplified by his philosophy in life: “Kindness is free and a very underutilized form of currency that we should all exhaust.” Profound Impact is honoured to share the story of Leigh’s work and its impact and to recognize his accomplishments as an Impactful Action Awards finalist in the Young Leader Category.
You can see more about Leigh’s career and impact in the visualization below.
Lynn Smith has fond memories of walking through the jack pine forest of the Peavine Métis Settlement in northern Alberta, of which she is a proud member, with her grandmother to pick blueberries and of camping with her family in those same forests. In her current role as Regional Planning Coordinator within the Consultation Department in the Settlement, developed in partnership with NAIT (the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology), she is leading her community through a significant change to take control of monitoring the impact of climate change on their land and waterways.
“Indigenous people have been stewards of the forests and waterways for generations,” notes Lynn. “I am now in a position to make changes to bring things back, as closely as possible, to the way they were when I was a child, when my cousins and I could drink directly from the river and streams in our community.”
Lynn works with compassion and perseverance in collaboration with community members to build knowledge and achieve data sovereignty in order to better hold industry and all levels of government accountable for how their actions impact Indigenous lands. She has developed an environmental monitoring program managed by a team of community-based environmental monitors and data technicians that deliver real benefits to the Settlement. This mentoring model ensures that the skills of those monitors and technicians are retained within the community.
Lynn regularly initiates, enables and sustains collaborations with a broad range of stakeholders, including Elders, traditional hunters and fishers, NAIT staff and students, all levels of government, and companies from the energy, forestry, and environmental consulting sectors. She reaches out to people and organizations with different experiences and expertise and enables her team to weigh in on decisions to achieve her community’s goals – all while demonstrating her compassion and strong interpersonal connections.
Although Indigenous peoples own, occupy, or use about a quarter of the world’s surface, they safeguard 80% of the world’s biodiversity. Attempts in the past by those communities to set up environmental monitoring programs have suffered from a lack of knowledge, thereby hindering the development, sustainability, quality and viability of the programs. Lynn has developed innovative partnerships between the Indigenous community and Western scientists, to teach Indigenous ways of knowing and to share Western-based methods of doing science with professionals who create environmental monitoring programs in her community. Lynn is also breaking new ground by communicating her learnings in setting up environmental monitoring programs to the scientific community by participating in the upcoming Chemical Society of Canada conference – a first for a non-traditionally trained scientist.
The sharing of knowledge and learnings with other Indigenous communities suffering from similar environmental challenges is a vital element of Lynn’s work. She works with communities to build competencies in their consultation teams to autonomously monitor their land, generate and interpret data, and implement management programs.
Lynn has been recognized for her achievements by being asked to represent her community on the Board of Directors of the Lesser Slave Lake Watershed Council, which works to improve and maintain a healthy watershed through education, planning and implementation of shared initiatives supporting communities and ecosystems throughout the region.
Lynn is mother to three young adult children and, when not working for the Settlement, owns and operates, along with her husband, Jesse Smith, three businesses: P’J’s Eavestroughing, Lynn and Jesse Grain Farm and D’Vine Trap Range. The trap range evolved from her love of the sport of trap shooting, where she was named the 2019 Canadian Ladies Champion. She is currently and has been, for the last 5 years, the reigning Alberta Provincial Ladies Champion.
“I’ve never thought of myself as a pioneer,” says Lynn about her work. “This is the best job I’ve ever had!”
Profound Impact is delighted to showcase Lynn’s important work and its incredible impact on the Peavine Métis Settlement and across Indigenous communities.
You can see more about Lynn’s career and impact in the visualization below.
November was a busy month for the Profound Impact team as we released our annual Social Impact Report, participated in industry conferences and met with venture capitalists in the US in preparation for the company’s next funding round.
The Profound Impact Social Impact Report highlights strategies we’ve undertaken over the last twelve months to maintain and improve a positive environment for our employees. These initiatives have included monthly in-person team meetings, team-building activities, virtual social events (including group cooking sessions), group volunteering, professional skills and growth support education programs, a team-wide book club and the matching of charitable contributions to community organizations. I’m proud to report that Profound Impact has achieved an employee retention rate of 100% (with 0% attrition) while growing the team by 33%. This employee retention rate is in stark contrast with tech companies globally, where the average attrition rate sits at 13.2%.
Conference attendance and presentations took Profound Impact employees across North America to learn more about key technologies and to meet current and potential customers.
Our Technical Program Manager, Sohail Ramzan, attended AWS Reinvent in Las Vegas to meet with AWS experts and to learn about the latest cloud industry innovations and how generative AI is revolutionizing the workplace.
Sherryl Petricevic, Director of Strategic Alliances and Partnerships was joined by Mike Folinas, Director of Research Administration at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto to present a case study on the use of Profound Impact’s Research Impact tool at the Canadian Association of Research Administrators (CARA) East in London, Ontario.
Jacqueline Watty from our Business Development team represented Profound Impact at qConnect 2023 in Calgary to connect with researchers and industry representatives discussing Canada’s role as a leader in quantum research and development, and how and why quantum is going to affect, change and benefit businesses.
Karl Burger, Director of Sales, attended the VentureLAB HardTech Summit, Canada’s premiere technology and innovation-focused summit that brought together global industry leaders, Canadian founders, investors, and innovators to explore the necessary ingredients to build a strong, connected hardware and semiconductor ecosystem in Canada.
Dr. Deborah Rosati, the chair of Profound Impact’s board of directors, and I took part in Pathways to Silicon Valley, where 24 female founders from across Canada participated in a curated immersion program designed for women founders of start-ups on their path to global business growth. We joined this program to establish relationships with US venture capital firms to prepare for our next fundraising round and our launch into the US in 2024.
December is the season of giving and the team at Profound Impact is demonstrating the power of small acts of kindness through our annual 12 Days of Impact, a program that encourages generosity. Our 12 Days of Impact campaign provides great examples of easy and inexpensive ways to be kind and generous and has also helped members of the Profound Impact team create a meaningful sense of contribution to their community while increasing bonds of collegiality on the job. We encourage you to download the 12 Days of Impact calendar and challenge your team to participate through small acts of kindness that have great big impacts.
I wish you all the best for 2024 and look forward to working with you in the new year.
It was during a Grade 8 field trip to a television station where a classmate’s father worked that Tabatha Laverty decided that she wanted to be a journalist. “I really didn’t consider another career until I graduated from Seneca College’s Television Broadcasting program, just as journalism as a business model was changing,” says Tabatha. “I realized that there wasn’t as broad of a variety of career options as I would have liked and ended up at a Big Four accounting firm, working in administration and marketing.” She was drawn to the storytelling aspect of journalism and discovered that marketing and communications would offer her the opportunities to tell those stories.
Tabatha’s career journey from project management, marketing, communications and community engagement to her current role as an acclaimed non-profit leader and award-winning marketer has seen her develop a passion for workplace equity and inclusion and an understanding of the vital importance of mentorship.
As VP of Marketing and External Relations at the Accelerator Centre in Waterloo, Ontario, Tabatha has spearheaded the organization’s EDI Action Plan, resulting in significant progress in creating a more inclusive and equitable innovation organization and tech community ecosystem. Most significantly, when women-led start-ups account for approximately 17.5% of all private-sector businesses in Canada, over 63% of the Accelerator Centre’s most recent program launch are women-led businesses, with 26% being led by newcomers to Canada, and 5% by indigenous entrepreneurs.
Tabatha was also instrumental in developing the Accelerator Centre’s cleantech incubation program, a first for Waterloo Region. In 2020, the programming was expanded to support all entrepreneurs working on solutions that support the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, adding resources for med-tech, ed-tech, smart city and social innovation-focused start-ups and supporting nearly 100 start-up companies.
Tabatha’s commitment to the advancement of women in the workplace includes her participation in the Waterloo Region Chapter of Women in Communications and Technology (WCT-WR) as a board director. “I love this community. The Kitchener Waterloo area has been such an incredible place for my family to live and work, and I’m passionate about giving back. Serving on the WCT-WR board is one way I can do that. I look forward to doing amazing things with this incredible organization and increasing access to networks, mentorship, and community for women across the region,” says Tabatha.
In addition to her role on WCT-WR’s board, Tabatha serves as a mentor in the organization’s Mentoring Circles program. She participates in monthly meetings with a fellow mentor and 5-6 mentees in similar career stages to share stories, provide guidance and help build mentees’ skill sets. “Mentoring is very important,” notes Tabatha. “It’s essential to reach out to people who have accomplished something you want to accomplish. And it’s important to get out of the echo chamber by including mentors from different backgrounds. For me, that was learning about finance, strategy, and EDI from people more accomplished in those areas than I am.”
In addition to the wisdom gleaned from her mentors and career champions, Tabatha has broadened her skill set through post-graduate certificates in social media management, fundraising, digital marketing, stakeholder management and non-profit and voluntary sector management. As a wife and mother of three, Tabatha prioritizes making time for herself and her family. “I wouldn’t say I am an expert in work-life balance, or that I have it figured out,” she says. “But I am lucky to work at a place that values flexibility, and I do my best to find a balance that works for me and my family.”
In 2021, Tabatha received the Global Women in Leadership Award issued by the Global Council for the Promotion of International Trade and, in 2022 was nominated for DMZ Women of the Year Award. Profound Impact is proud to have designated Tabatha as a finalist in the Young Leader category for this year’s Impactful Actions Awards in recognition of her work as an accomplished leader and active community champion.
You can see more of Tabatha’s career and impact in the visualization below.
“Be a ladder, be a lamp or be a lifeboat.” This is Stephanie Thompson’s motto in her work as a passionate engineer and community leader who increases awareness for engineering, manufacturing and skilled trades careers for young women.
Stephanie grew up as the oldest of four children in Ottawa. Her interest in a career in science was sparked by an invitation by Mrs. Williams, her Grade 11 physics and chemistry teacher, to an overnight trip to the Chalk River Laboratories in Deep River, Ontario, where she saw nuclear physicists at work. “My teacher had a profound effect on me by recognizing my potential in science,” says Stephanie.
Stephanie liked chemistry and chose to study chemical engineering at the University of Waterloo after doing her research and learning that engineers had the best capacity for earning. Although successful at the traditional model of learning in high school, she found university to be humbling. “I had to figure things out. How to be creative and inventive and how to learn. And this prepared me for work after graduation,” she notes.
During her 22-year career at General Motors in St. Catharines, Ontario, Stephanie has worked in a range of engineering roles, including Launch Process Engineer, Process Engineer and Production Group Leader, and was the first woman to serve as an Engineering Manager. “I have been most successful when surrounded by talented and smart people, allowing me to find my space in a way that nobody else was doing.”
Through her extensive community outreach, Stephanie promotes engineering and other STEM fields as a storyteller, problem solver and a breaker of barriers. It is through these skills that she allows others, especially women, to see what they do not see in themselves.
In 2019, Stephanie launched the social enterprise STEM by Steph. STEMbySteph.com offers a range of activities, including a workshop series that brings women together to explore STEM careers. These workshops are led by women and focus on topics including Chemistry, Automotive, Environment, Space, Robotics, and Electrical. STEM by Steph also offers pro-bono career coaching for high school students.
Stephanie believes that a major barrier for girls pursuing trades and STEM fields is the lack of female STEM role models. In response to that need, STEM by Steph workshops offer a frequently sold-out social event where other female STEM professionals join Stephanie to teach young women and their mothers in a fun, camaraderie-filled atmosphere. “If you want more young women to be interested in non-traditional roles, involve their mothers,” notes Stephanie. “You cannot be what you do not see, and a major influence in every girl’s life is her mother.”
As a FIRST Robotics Mentor, Stephanie has run FIRST Robotics teams at local schools since 2005 including leading the Niagara FIRST Lego League as Tournament Director. She recently connected engineers and electricians from General Motors with over 200 students from across Ontario for a day-long workshop on Design Thinking about the future of automotive.
In addition to her mentoring and community outreach work, Stephanie is active in the Niagara Region as a member of the Brock University Board of Trustees, a member of the Niagara College Industrial Automation Program Advisory Committee, the inaugural Chair of the Brock University Engineering Industry Partners Committee and Director of Innovate Niagara.
Stephanie’s professional and community work has been recognized by the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce as the 2018 winner of the Women in Business Award for Science and Technology. She was awarded the 2020 Alumni Achievement Medal for Community Service by the University of Waterloo and was included in the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada in 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023, when she was inducted into the Hall of Fame
Stephanie’s impact on the community is perhaps best summarized by Nancy Watt, Advisory Board member for the internationally recognized magazine, Enterprising Women. “When I asked Stephanie to help build a STEM event on behalf of the Young Enterprising Women Foundation, I had no idea she was about to deliver a record-breaking, precedent-setting, multi-media-covered event that garnered an article in Enterprising Women. Stephanie is a connector. She sees potential and opportunities in others, puts them together and watches synergy take hold. She puts forward-thinking strategy to use, analyzing and achieving the best possible outcome for those who know her.”
You can see more of Stephanie’s career and impact in the visualization below.