The application of technology in healthcare has increased significantly since the advent of COVID 19 in 2020. This month’s newsletter highlights the role of health informatics, which combines communication, information technology and health care to transform and greatly improve patient care through the sharing of information, accurate and timely diagnoses and treatments and personalized medicine. You’ll learn about interdisciplinary research in areas including big data, environmental and global health, patient monitoring and acceptance and adoption of technologies for health management. And you’ll meet Dr. Helen Chen of the Professional Practice Centre in Health Systems at the University of Waterloo who works with health care sector partners and professional staff and faculty from the University of Waterloo to tackle interesting and important real-world problems.
This month’s Impact Story highlights the work of Lily Pourzand, who came to Canada from Iran in 1999 in search of political safety and personal freedom. A finalist for the 2023 Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards, Lily is a passionate and outstanding advocate for girls and women, both in Canada and around the world, as she works to create community linkages and establish relationships with stakeholders, organizations, funders and policymakers to bring positive social changes.
The Profound Impact team is planning for a busy June and we hope to see you at one of the events we’ll be participating in this month. We’re proud to sponsor the CS-CAN 2023 conference at McGill University from June 5 to 9. Our team will be in Montreal to meet with computer science researchers and students from across Canada. We’ll also be taking part in the Collision 2023 conference at the Enercare Centre in Toronto, from June 26 to 29 as part of the Startup Alpha program. And I’ll be presenting, in conjunction with Deloitte, on the AWS stage at the conference.
Nominations are open until June 14th for our Impactful Action Awards. We believe that one profound impact leads to another and that’s why the recipients of our awards will be able to select a charity of their choice for a donation made by Profound Impact. To make a nomination, or learn more about the awards, please click here: https://news.profoundimpact.com/…/2023-impactful…/
Finally, we are pleased to announce the appointment of Kasia Malz to Profound Impact as Chief Financial Officer. Kasia joined the Profound Impact team in April and brings more than 15 years of experience working in diverse financial leadership roles in start-up and high-growth environments. She received both her Masters of Accounting and Honours Bachelor of Mathematics from the University of Waterloo, holds a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA) designation and is a licensed Certified Public Accountant in the state of Illinois.Adding Kasia as our CFO signals a time of growth, expansion and investment here at Profound Impact and we know that she will be an invaluable member of our team as we grow.
We look forward to receiving your nominations for the Impactful Action Awards and to meeting you at the CS-CAN conference in Montreal and the Collision conference in Toronto. Thank you for connecting with us and the Profound Impact community!
Two of Profound Impact’s core values are open collaboration and making a positive impact. This month, we’re proud to feature stories about how researchers and communities are working together to address issues like mental health, climate change, refugees and asylum and the intergenerational trauma caused by residential schools.
This month’s Research Spotlight on Social Innovation and Collaboration focuses on how researchers from a range of disciplines are working with social agencies, businesses and not-for-profits to develop programs to improve the health and well-being of communities across Canada and internationally. And we look at how the Government of Canada has broadened its understanding of innovation beyond traditional research funding to include resources for collaborations that engage charities and community groups who are addressing complex social challenges.
One of these researchers is Georgina Martin, an Indigenous scholar who is heeding the guidance provided by her grandfather as she was growing up by working with her community of origin to address the significant issues in physical and mental health and culture caused by residential schools and Indian hospitals. You’ll meet Georgina and learn how the team she leads will not only address these issues but will also inspire Indigenous youth to follow her path as a scholar and researcher.
This month’s Impact Story features technology entrepreneur, investor, CEO and philanthropist Jim Estill, who is also a longtime friend and one of my treasured mentors. Jim’s commitment to doing the right thing provides inspiring leadership to his employees at Danby Products and the community in Guelph and across Canada. His work in personally sponsoring refugees from Syria to come to the safety of Canada and of setting up networks, systems and resources for the community at large to sponsor people from around the world has been recognized through a range of awards and accolades. But it’s the work that’s important to Jim as he describes himself as “a regular person doing a tiny bit and even doing that imperfectly.”
Do you also know someone who has or is continuing to make a great impact? Nominations are now open for Profound Impact’s Impactful Action Awards, the annual program that recognizes leaders from around the world who are making a profound impact on the global community by inspiring collaborative solutions to difficult problems. Learn more about the award criteria and how to nominate in either the Young Leader or Lifetime Achievement category. Nominations are open until June 14 and the winner will be announced on September 14th, Profound Impact Day.
Finally, are you interested in learning how our Research Impact product can help your institution get more research funding? You can sign up here for a Demo Day to see Research Impact live.
We can’t wait to review the nominations for the Impactful Action Awards and look forward to meeting you at one of our Demo Days. As always, thanks for connecting with us and the Profound Impact community!
Food security, mental health, climate change, equitable access to healthcare, safe water, refugees and asylum, marginalized populations—these complex social and environmental challenges are faced by communities, both urban and remote, across Canada and internationally. Can a collaborative research approach, engaging researchers from a range of disciplines and geographies, use social innovation in the form of new programs, inventive use of technology and development of social enterprises, to address these issues?
The Government of Canada has responded to these challenges through the creation of the Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy and a steering group to guide that strategy. In February of 2023, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development announced the launch of the Social Innovation Advisory Council (SIAC), a group of experts representing a diverse range of Canada’s social innovation and finance sector. SIAC’s role is to provide advice to the government to establish programs and support organizations, including charities, not-for-profits, businesses and social enterprises, which promote inclusive social innovation in Canada.
A key priority for the SIAC is to advise on the implementation of recommendations in the report Inclusive Innovation: New ideas and new partnerships for stronger communities. The report, which was delivered in 2018 by the Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy steering group, focuses on how the government can support networks of organizations, both business and non-profit, that are working collaboratively to make communities healthier and more sustainable and inclusive. These recommendations include implementing government policy focused on social innovation through federal legislation, establishing a permanent Office for Social Innovation and a multi-sectoral Social Innovation Council to advise the federal government, creating a Social Finance Fund, and improving access to federal innovation, business development and skills training programs for social purpose organizations.
Canadian researchers have access to funding for collaborative research in social innovation via NSERC, the National Science and Engineering Research Council, and Mitacs.
The College and Community Innovation program offers researchers in Canada’s colleges and polytechnics opportunities to apply for College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF) grants of up to $120,000/year for 1 to 3 years. CCSIF grants are managed by NSERC in collaboration with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Social Sciences Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) with the goal of facilitating collaborative and innovative research that brings together researchers and students in the social sciences, humanities, health sciences, natural sciences and engineering to work with community partners to address challenges in social innovation.
One of the more than 50 CCSIF grants totaling over $38 million awarded in 2021 was to Georgian College in Ontario, in partnership with the Simcoe County District School Board and Ashoka Canada, a non-profit organization that promotes social entrepreneurship by connecting and supporting individual social entrepreneurs. The goal of this research is to create changemakers and active citizens to build stronger, safer, healthier and more inclusive communities. The three-year project will develop evaluation tools that measure growth in the four competencies associated with social innovation and transformation: empathy, shared leadership, teamwork, and change-making. The project team will work with educators from kindergarten through to postsecondary to incorporate these tools into their classrooms.
In British Columbia, researchers at Langara College, in partnership with the Williams Lake First Nation and the University of British Columbia’sIndian Residential SchoolHistory and Dialogue Centre, received CCSIF funding for Secwepemc Culture to Wellness: An Intergenerational Model of Healing from Trauma Caused by Indian Hospitals & Residential Schools in British Columbia. The project responds to the harm caused by residential schools and Indian hospitals through the interruption of the transfer of knowledge of elders, the land, community leaders and educators. A key objective of this community-based research is to restore the transfer of ancestral knowledge from elders to youth with the goal of reducing alienation and suicide among Secwepemc youth.
Mitacs has partnered with universities and community, business and non-profit organizations across Canada to fund a range of research projects addressing issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity, health and wellness and the delivery of food and medicine to remote communities.
In 2020, Mitacs and Mental Health Research Canada partnered to fund over 20 projects covering a range of topics related to mental health and COVID-19. Projects included research at the University of Calgary, working with the Association of International Medical Graduates of Alberta, to better understand the mental health impacts of COVID-19 on front-line workers who are members of vulnerable populations.
In a project to address the issues of food insecurity for more than 1,700 Nisga’a Indigenous people living in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, a University of Toronto Mitacs Accelerate-funded Anthropology graduate student worked with Ecotrust Canada’s North Coast Innovation Lab and the Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society on a plant-based food initiative that combines traditional and current methods and to develop and launch a food production and distribution hub.
Social innovation and collaboration, through inventive partnerships between researchers, social service agencies, business and non-profit organizations, are developing innovative processes, programs, services and methods to solve complex social problems and have transformative impacts on communities across Canada. Support for this research from federal funding agencies is leading to increased capacity for social innovation to develop and mobilize the resources, tools and methods needed to address the ongoing challenges facing communities in Canada and around the world.
When Dr. Georgina Martin was growing up as a member of the Secwepemc Nation in Williams Lake, British Columbia, her grandfather, Ned Moiese, taught her the importance of both receiving an education and of bringing what she learned back to her people. That advice strongly influenced her career path as she earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in Political Science and her PhD in Educational Studies. And her role as one of the 18 Indigenous scholars from across Canada on the Reference Group for the Appropriate Review of Indigenous Research, established to help guide the Tri-Council funding agencies (CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC) to develop culturally appropriate practices for research conducted by and with Indigenous peoples in Canada, is an important milestone as well.
“I am a passionate life-long learner and I look for ways to facilitate learning and teaching”, says Dr. Martin. She studied for her undergraduate and master’s degrees while raising her children and working full-time jobs managing and administering programs and services within Indigenous communities, and education and health organizations. For almost three decades prior to earning her PhD, Dr. Martin worked in a range of federal and provincial government departments, serving in roles including Native Program Officer, Community Health Development Officer, Land and Community Coordinator and Aboriginal Liaison Equity Officer. In 2014, she completed her PhD research, Drumming my way home: An intergenerational narrative inquiry about Secwepemc identities, which focussed on Indigenous knowledge pedagogy and intergenerational knowledge transmission.
Dr. Martin’s focus on community, collaboration and knowledge transfer and her research interests in intergenerational trauma from residential schools and Indian hospitals, cultural identity, Indigenous self-determination, Indigenous education and Indigenous voices are reflected in her current research project, Secwepemc Culture to Wellness: An Intergenerational Model of Healing from Trauma Caused by Indian Hospitals & Residential Schools in British Columbia. Residential schools and Indian hospitals destroyed the transfer of Secwepemc language and cultural knowledge between generations. Dr. Martin leads this project, working in collaboration with the Williams Lake First Nation and the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC) at the University of British Columbia. The goal of the research is to develop a healing model that responds to the needs of the community and aligns with Indigenous values to benefit and support the Secwepemc Nation and Indigenous communities across the country.
As a scholar and an experienced community-based researcher, Dr. Martin emphasizes the importance of listening to and working with the community to conduct research. Her approach is strongly influenced by the work of Dr. Robert Morgan, an Aboriginal researcher who has worked throughout Australia and internationally in the field of Aboriginal knowledge and is committed to Aboriginal self-determination and sovereignty. Unlike “helicopter research”, where data is collected and results published without the involvement of local communities, this work will include the significant and meaningful participation of collaborators and participants.
In addition to using social innovation and collaboration to address crucial issues in physical and mental health and culture, the project will build capacity for future researchers, with more than 16 students receiving funding during its three-year duration.
“My grandfather taught me that people learn from what you do, not what you say”, recalls Dr. Martin. Her work in the classroom and the community as an Indigenous scholar, teacher and researcher makes her a powerful change agent and a formidable role model to Secwepemc Nation youth.
Do the right thing. That’s the imperative that drives Jim Estil—in everything business, in community service and in humanitarian work.
Jim has been President and CEO of home appliance manufacturer Danby Products in Guelph, Ontario since 2015. His focus on doing the right thing is reflected in Danby’s operating values, where ethical working conditions throughout the supply chain, diversity and inclusion, sustainability and philanthropy are at the heart of the company’s culture. And Jim has found that this way of doing business results in greater engagement by employees and attracts new staff. “People want to work for a company that does social good.”
Encouraged by his father to study engineering, Jim graduated from the Systems Design Engineering program at the University of Waterloo in 1980. He had developed an interest in computing and technology and was more interested in a career in business. “I would have made a terrible engineer!”, he claims. He started his first company, EMJ Data Systems, while in his final year of university. When the company was sold in 2005, it had grown from one where he sold hardware and software from the trunk of his car to a publicly traded corporation on the Toronto Stock Exchange with a staff of over 300 and $350 million in annual sales.
Beyond his success as an entrepreneur and investor, Jim is perhaps best known as a humanitarian. In 2015, he personally sponsored the resettling of 50 Syrian refugee families in Canada and, as CEO of Danby, set up a community network of hundreds of volunteers in Guelph to sponsor hundreds of people from countries around the world. Danby’s latest venture in this area is the Circle Home Furniture Bank, an ongoing resource to help provide furniture and housewares for newcomer families from Afghanistan, Ukraine and Syria as they establish their homes in Guelph and neighbouring communities. Through the work of local volunteers, community organizations and the federal government, Danby’s refugee sponsorship program has helped settle hundreds of newcomer families, helping them find and furnish homes, secure employment, and start their new lives in and around Guelph. “People are grateful to help and to be part of the better, bigger good,” notes Jim of the massive community effort of more than 800 volunteers that donated their time and resources to help people from around the world start a new life in Canada.
Jim has long been concerned about environmental issues. He started a recycling program in his university residence, has installed solar panels on his roof and invests in alternative energy. “I’m worried about climate change and the social upheaval it will cause as people will be forced to leave their homes.” This concern Is reflected in Danby’s focus on sustainability and the company’s goal to work toward a more sustainable future. The company refurnishes units as “Danby Certified” to help to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and to lower greenhouse gas production at their manufacturing plants.
Thanks to Jim’s leadership, and Danby’s ongoing commitment to do the right thing, the company continues to work to make the world better by supporting women’s shelters, programs for youth and for people experiencing homelessness. In recognition of his work, Jim was named to the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada, received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Guelph and an Everyday Heroes Award from the Global Hope Coalition. Despite the awards, he says “I’m a normal guy, trying to do my part.” And Jim hopes that Danby’s commitment to a corporate culture of philanthropy, volunteerism and servant leadership can serve as a model for much larger companies across Canada and internationally. “Everybody can do their part by taking on something that’s the right size for them to do their version of good.”
You can see more of Jim’s impact in the visualizations below.
Do you have an Impact Story to share? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to have your story featured in an upcoming newsletter!
More than a billion people around the world will celebrate Earth Day on Saturday April 22. This year’s Earth Day theme, Invest in Our Planet, is designed to encourage businesses, governments and citizens to invest in solutions that will support the protection of the environment. Profound Impact is marking Earth Day with our Research Impact article on the evolution of the automobile industry in Canada over the last 120 years and how the federal and provincial governments, along with Canadian companies, are leading the way in investing in and developing innovative technology that is transforming the industry as it transitions to zero-emission vehicle production.
In this issue, you’ll meet Flavio Volpe, President of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA). Flavio was key in renegotiating the NAFTA agreement between Canada, the US and Mexico and is passionate about his work as an advocate of the automobile industry. He tells us about Project Arrow – the prototype automobile that is a showcase for made-in-Canada technology to meet the federal government’s call for a Zero-Emissions future by 2050. I am honoured to be a member of the Project Arrow Advisory Committee and to have the opportunity to contribute to this impactful initiative.
This month’s Impact Story introduces Deborah Rosati, corporate director, entrepreneur, Fellow Chartered Professional Accountant and founder and CEO of Women Get On Board. Deborah works closely with the corporate governance community and is a powerful role model and mentor for women as she promotes and empowers women to join corporate, public sector and not-for-profit boards. I am excited to announce that Deborah is joining this month as Chair of Profound Impact’s Board of Directors.
We’re thrilled to announce that the Impactful Actions Awards, which recognize leaders from around the world who are making a profound impact in the global community, will accept nominations in two categories in 2023. Read more about the nomination procedures and timelines for the Young Leader and Lifetime Achievement categories here.
And finally, we hope you’ll check out the webinar on researcher/industry collaboration Profound Impact presented in partnership with CS-CAN|Info-Can in March, as well as the highlight demo video of our Research Impact product. We have another webinar coming up in April!
Happy Earth Month and thanks for connecting with us and the Profound Impact community!
So much has changed since Canada’s automotive industry was launched with the invention of the 1903 Redpath Messenger. Manufactured by the Redpath Motor Vehicle Company in Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario, the one-cylinder Messenger had a shaft drive (instead of the then standard chain drive), two transmissions and a tilt steering wheel – believed to be the first in the automobile industry.
The production of the Messenger was followed by the large-scale manufacture of automobiles in Walkerville (now part of Windsor), Ontario in 1904 when the Walkerville Wagon Works factory produced 117 Model “C” Ford vehicles.
Today, Canada is one of the top 12 producers of light vehicles internationally. More than 1.4 million vehicles are assembled each year in Canadian plants supplied by nearly 700 parts suppliers. The automobile industry plays a vital role in Canada’s economy, providing a $12.5 billion contribution to GDP in 2020 and directly employing more than 117,200 people, with an additional 371,400 people in aftermarket services and dealership networks in 2020. Ontario is the only place in North America where five major automakers – Honda, Toyota, Ford, General Motors, Stellantis and truck manufacturer Hino – build vehicles.
The innovations that are fundamentally transforming automobile technology are also strengthening Canada’s role as a leader in the industry. Canadian research in areas including AI, neural networks, computer vision, lithium-ion energy density and hydrogen fuel cells has provided significant contributions to the development of connected and autonomous vehicles.
Transportation is responsible for approximately 25% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. In 2021, Canada joined over 120 countries, including all other G7 nations (United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Italy, France, and Japan) in its commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050. By 2026, 20% of new passenger vehicles sold in Canada must be emission-free and that figure rises to 100% in 2035.
The Canadian automobile industry’s innovative response to the Zero-Emissions mandate is Project Arrow, a showcase for electric-drive, alternative-fuel, connected and autonomous technologies. The Project Arrow concept vehicle will also act as a blueprint for battery development and integration, tech transfer and intellectual property development.
Launched by the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA) and funded by the federal, Ontario and Quebec governments, this first, original, full-build, zero-emission concept vehicle was designed, engineered and built via a unique collaboration between more than 50 Canadian automobile parts suppliers and three universities and features:
Design, based on a small sport utility, by a team of students from Carleton University’s School of Industrial Design.
Engineering specifications and aerodynamic testing to convert those designs into a prototype conducted within Ontario Tech University’s ACE Innovation Garage, a collaborative laboratory and office space that brings together industry, academics and students.
Powertrain, which includes two 180-kilowatt electric motors, transmissions and differentials and a huge battery pack, designed and partially assembled at the University of Waterloo’s Mechatronic Vehicle Systems Laboratory.
Testing and validation of connected and autonomous (CAV) technologies prior to their integration into the physical car conducted in the Virtual Reality CAVE at Invest WindsorEssex.
Investment in electric vehicle (EV) technology is now a key industrial policy strategy for the federal and Ontario governments. The federal government’s $680 million Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program (ZEVIP) provides funding to deploy EV chargers and hydrogen refuelling stations across Canada. The Canada Growth Fund (CGF) is being established by the federal government to accelerate the deployment of technologies, including carbon capture, utilization, and storage and low-carbon hydrogen, to reduce carbon emissions.
Canadian expertise in emerging technologies is attracting major investments in autonomous and connected vehicle research and development from global companies. In December, 2022, General Motors of Canada, with support from the Ontario government, opened its first full-scale EV manufacturing plant in Ingersoll, the first all-electric vehicle manufacturing facility in Canada. And in March, 2023, the Ontario government announced Volkswagen’s first EV battery manufacturing plant, to be built in St. Thomas.
From the wooden carriage-bodied 1903 Redpath Messenger, currently on display at the Canadian Automobile Museum, to Project Arrow, now on a two-year international tour of auto and technical shows, the automobile industry in Canada has been and continues to be a showcase of Canadian innovation. And thanks to government and industry investments in made-in-Canada EV and battery ecosystems, Canada is becoming a global leader in designing and building the vehicles of the future.
“I’m crazy about cars!” declares Flavio Volpe, President of the Automotive Parts Manufacturer’s Association (APMA), which represents more than 200 suppliers to the automotive industry globally. That passion is evident in his role as an internationally recognized champion of Canada’s automotive industry.
Volpe originally planned to work in land use planning or the foreign service after completing his MBA in International Business at York University. But his role as Chief of Staff at the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Growth, followed by work in the renewable energy semiconductor manufacturing sector, led to being recruited as President of APMA in 2014.
A major achievement in his work with APMA was his leadership, during the 2017-19 NAFTA renegotiations, which led to a significant increase in regional content for suppliers in the new USMCA. This increase benefits car manufacturing workers from all three countries and helps spur investment in the North American automotive industry.
COVID-19 and its after-effects provided extraordinary challenges for Canada as well as the opportunity for the country’s manufacturing industry to work together. When the pandemic resulted in a dangerous shortage of medical equipment across the country, Volpe turned to APMA members to produce the largest build-orders of ventilators, PPE and test swabs in Canada’s history. He was recognized as a “Manufacturing Hero” for his leadership in this essential project.
When anti-government protestors illegally blockaded the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor in 2022, the cost to the automotive industry was $1 billion. Informed by the injunction to enforce noise and idling bylaws related to the ongoing anti-vaccine mandate protests in Ottawa, Volpe worked APMA legal counsel to secure an injunction in Ontario Superior Court to force the reopening of Canada’s most critical international border crossing. “We were facing the biggest crisis, (the) biggest acute trade and delivery crisis the industry has ever seen. And, as the trade association whose members were being impacted by $100 million in lost production per day and 100,000 people sitting at home without getting paid, we took action.”
The combination of the vital gains resulting from the NAFTA negotiations, the unprecedented response to produce PPE in a time of national crisis, and the effective solution to the border closure have cemented APMA’s reputation as a trusted partner to the automotive industry as well as to provincial and federal governments.
Volpe is perhaps most enthusiastic about his response to the Prime Minister’s challenge for a net-zero economy by 2050. He launched Project Arrow, a zero-emissions, autonomous concept prototype inspired by the innovation story of the Avro Arrow. This all-Canadian demonstration of technology was funded with $8 million from the federal, Ontario and Quebec governments and, in an outstanding collaboration with the Canadian automotive industry, $12 million of cash, in-kind and research and development funding from APMA partners.
Project Arrow was unveiled at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to global coverage and was at centre stage during the opening events of the 2023 AutoShow’s media preview event in February 2023 in Toronto. “Project Arrow is a ground-breaking show of Canada’s most advanced zero emissions, lightweight, connected and autonomous automotive technology,” says Volpe. Project Arrow is currently on a two-year international tour of auto and technology shows to showcase the future automotive technologies, developed, commercialized and built in Canada.
Volpe believes that Project Arrow will inspire the next generation of the Canadian automotive industry – including students and established and start-up companies that will develop the technologies to meet Canada’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
When asked about his professional future plans, Volpe notes that government and community service are the family business. His father, Joe Volpe, served as a member of the federal parliament from 1988 to 2011 and as a cabinet minister from 2003 to 2006. “I may consider a position in government when I’m ready to step away from industry,” says Volpe.
In the meantime, Flavio Volpe is recognized internationally as a top industry leader, as an effective and passionate champion of Canada’s automotive industry, and an outspoken advocate for Canada’s automotive suppliers and the automotive industry as a whole.
Fellow Chartered Professional Accountant Women Get on Board
Deborah Rosati always knew that she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps by pursuing a career in business. “He immigrated to Canada from Holland at age 14, and was placed in a grade one class. My father built his life in Canada and his business from the ground up,” she says. “My parents taught me that I could do whatever I wanted. And I’ve always had a deep love for business.”
Deborah’s focus on a career in business attracted her to the co-op accounting program at Brock University’s Goodman School of Business. By her mid-twenties, thanks to co-op work term experience, Deborah had developed the skills that led to corporate roles ranging from controller to CFO. The appeal of emerging technologies and her inclination to entrepreneurship drew her to new roles as company co-founder and partner. It was during this phase of her work that she found herself to be one of only a few female partners or board members.
The lack of women at the board table and the absence of women mentors motivated Deborah to found Women Get On Board (WGOB) in 2015. In the ensuing 8 years, Deborah and her team have grown this member-based, social purpose company to more than 850 members. Collaborations with corporate sponsors have resulted in programs that have helped more than 300 women prepare and effectively engage on corporate, public sector and not-for-profit boards. These programs include:
WGOB Mentorship Program, which matches aspiring women corporate directors with accomplished leading and serving women corporate directors to elevate their board effectiveness and advance their board journey to a corporate board seat.
WGOB Financial Intelligence in the Boardroom Program, designed to empower women with practical insights and tools to enhance their financial intelligence in the boardroom. This unique online program offers practical and hands-on support in a combination of micro-learning, virtually facilitated by financial experts.
WGOB has also worked with corporate partners to celebrate the accomplishments of women. WGOB created the BMO Celebrating Women on Boards in 2020 to annually recognize 5 women across Canada who excel in and out of the boardroom. In 2022, WGOB announced KPMG Canada as its first EMPOWER Partner to connect, promote and empower women to lead and serve on boards through events and thought leadership.
In addition to her work on WGOB, Deborah is actively engaged with the wider corporate governance community through frequent speaking engagements, panel discussions, podcasts, and authoring articles and e-books How to Get Yourself on a Board and Elevating Your Board Effectiveness, to share her expertise and thought leadership..
Deborah has been recognized through numerous nominations and awards including The SustainabilityX Magazine’s inaugural Global 50 Women in Sustainability Award in 2022. In 2021, she was recognized as one of the Women’s Executive Networks Top 100 Canada’s Most Powerful Women in the Entrepreneur award category. Deborah has also been honoured as a 2020 Director to Watch and a 2014 Diversity 50 candidate. And in 2012, Deborah was selected as one of WXN’s Top 100 Canada’s Most Powerful Women in the Corporate Director award category.
Deborah’s career and WGOB are guided by the same principles:
Be passionate in everything we do;
Be engaged and take initiative; and
Be communicative beyond expectation.
Recognized for her success as a successful businesswoman, entrepreneur, corporate director, speaker and supporter of women in the boardroom, Deborah Rosati is a powerful role model and mentor. Her advice to women in business? “Be fearless and never doubt yourself. Lean in and learn up – because knowledge is power.”
You can see more of Deborah’s impact in the visualizations below:
Do you have an Impact Story to share? Reach out to us at email@example.com for a chance to have your story featured in an upcoming newsletter!
Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing sector received a huge boost in February with a new investment of $177 million from the Government of Canada to the Global Innovation Clusters program, which includes NGen, Next Generation Manufacturing Canada. This month’s Research Spotlight focuses on advanced manufacturing in Canada and how NGen projects build and expand innovation in manufacturing through collaborations between industry and researchers that provide solutions to challenging, real-world problems.
March is Women’s History Month and, as a female-founded company with female-identifying individuals comprising 60% of our staff, Profound Impact is delighted to recognize and celebrate the achievements of women in this issue of Profound Connections.
Dr. So-Ra Chung, Professor and Principal Investigator at the Centre for Smart Manufacturing at Conestoga College is also profiled as part of our Research Spotlight on Advanced Manufacturing this month. So-Ra is passionate about teaching her students via hands-on, project-based learning and working with industry partners on tangible problems.
Wendy Powley, Associate Professor in the School of Computing at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario is the subject of this month’s Impact Story. Wendy has inspired and supported thousands of young women as a professor and mentor and through CAN-CWiC, the annual celebration of Canadian women in computing. You’ll meet Wendy and learn more about how she founded the CAN-CWiC conference in 2010 and has single-handedly worked to make it the most important and prestigious Canadian conference for women in computing.
Profound Impact is a proud sponsor of the program developed by the Waterloo Region Chapter of Women in Communications and Technology to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) throughout the month of March. Check out the Women Empowering Women Digital Community (WEWDC) at https://wewdc.com/iwd2023wr to join sessions related to this year’s IWD theme of #Embrace Equity.
Happy Women’s History Month and IWD 2023 and, as always, thank you for your engagement and support.
The traditional view of manufacturing features unskilled labour working on assembly lines for the mass production of cars, farm machinery, electrical equipment and textiles. In 2023, Canada’s advanced manufacturing eco-system employs innovative technologies, a highly skilled workforce and partnerships with world-renowned research facilities to develop unique solutions to challenges in areas including health care, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, food and beverage processing and the assembly of electronic vehicles.
Canada’s history in manufacturing began with the use of gristmills to process grains into flour in the 18th century in New France. Confederation and the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 19th century paved the way for factories to produce lumber, grains and food products for domestic use. With the discovery of electricity and the demands of the First World War, Canada’s manufacturing expanded to shipbuilding and the production of steel and pulp and paper. The Second World War led to yet more manufacturing growth, with the fabrication of vehicles, aircraft and weapons and a manufacturing industry that employed more than 25% of Canada’s workforce.
Manufacturing in Canada today has made great strides and includes the use of robotics, nanotechnology, advanced materials, 3D printing, artificial intelligence and the integration of network and information technology to advance product development, reduce costs, increase quality, functionality and customization and reduce supply chain issues and time to market.
According to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), manufacturing represents more than 10% of Canada’s total GDP, with exports of more than $354 billion each year, representing 68% of all of Canada’s merchandise exports and employing almost 2 million people across the country. The government of Canada recognized the importance of manufacturing to the country through the creation of Next Generation Manufacturing Canada(NGen), one of five national networks supported by Canada’s Global Innovation Clusters (Supercluster) initiative. According to François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, “Our government’s investment in the clusters has been about finding new and innovative ways to build connections. By incentivizing collaboration and growing strong Canadian ecosystems, the Global Innovation Clusters are generating good, well-paying jobs across the country, developing a highly skilled and diverse workforce, and contributing to our economic recovery by creating stronger and more resilient economic growth.”
NGen is a non-profit organization with the goal of “strengthening the competitiveness and growth potential of Canada’s advanced manufacturing sector, enhancing the support capacity of Canada’s advanced manufacturing ecosystem, and contributing to the well-being of Canadians.” NGen’s 5,000 members include more than 1,000 manufacturers, over 2,500 SMEs, 372 industry partners and 261 academic and research partners with over 200 students working on 165 NGen-funded projects.
Research partners participate through invitation by NGen-funded industry partners, working mainly on technology development and are funded by federal and provincial research and development grants. CEO Jayson Myers notes that NGen projects provide funding to Canadian manufacturers and technology companies to work together with university researchers and their students to develop transformative and customized solutions to solve demand-driven challenges. “Each project partner has a role to play. Universities and research facilities provide training and education and a long-term view of the use of technology as well as access to research test-beds. Industry partners supply innovation and ingenuity and use of facilities. Partners collaborate to focus on developing transformative solutions.”
Cities across Canada – including Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Waterloo and Ottawa – are centres of excellence in advanced manufacturing, with expertise in areas including bio-industrials, nanotechnology, geospatial data collection and analysis, advanced communications and navigation, aerospace manufacturing, cleantech, automotive, aviation, robotics and the development and integration of defence and security products. NGen plays a strategic role in connecting and supporting collaborations between experts in these centres in a broad range of projects. Examples include:
A partnership between Sona Nanotech in Halifax, the VIDO-Intervac Research Centre at the University of Saskatchewan and the Runnymede Healthcare Centre in Toronto to use Sona’s proprietary nanotechnology to develop a rapid point-of-care antigen test to screen for COVID-19. The test has been commercialized in Europe as a screening tool for individuals in high-risk settings and has resulted in $100 million in sales.
Magna’s Stronach Centre for Innovation and Maple Advanced Robotics in Ontario, in partnership with the University of Waterloo, the University of Toronto and Toronto Metropolitan University worked together to develop an Autonomous Adaptable Robot System (AARS), a novel robot integration solution. AARS integrates 3D vision technology, artificial intelligence and collaborative robots to allow any operator with minimal training to quickly modify the robot path and workspace, significantly expanding the role of robots in large-scale or small and medium-size production and in retail services such as auto body repair shops.
Advanced BioCarbon 3D in Rossland, BC is conducting a feasibility study and a pilot project with KF Hemp in Regina, Virtual Layer in Kelowna, BC and a research team at the University of British Columbia to support the development of a commercial-scale biorefinery for the production of high-performance bioplastics and other advanced materials made from hemp.
In Ontario, Linamar in Guelph is partnering with Westhill Innovation in Simcoe and McMaster University in Hamilton to scale up production of Westhill’s inverter technology for use in zero-emission vehicles. The technology uses 1/12th the space and mass of other competing inverters and the project proposes to develop a manufacturing process to produce smaller, lighter inverters for use in Zero-Emission Vehicles.
Canada has provided significant investments in advanced manufacturing to maintain and grow the country’s role as a global leader in system integration, artificial intelligence, sensors, machine vision and automation. In addition to NGen Supercluster funding, Canada has introduced federal tax credits, including a 100% write-off for newly-acquired manufacturing and processing equipment. The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Program provides income-tax credits and refunds for expenditures on eligible R&D activity in Canada. And the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) supports business activities including R&D projects, collaborative technology demonstration projects and clean technology adoption and decarbonization.
Innovation in Canadian manufacturing has evolved from Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aid Manufacturing (CAM) to today’s use of advanced technologies to produce big solutions to big challenges. Federal tax credits, funding of research and development, the results of NGen-funded collaborative advanced manufacturing projects and the training of the next generation of workers provided through these projects all serve to secure the progress of Canada’s manufacturing sector in order to deliver innovative products and processes for Canada and the world.
Growing up in Seoul, South Korea, Dr. So-Ra Chung wanted to be a scientist with a Nobel Prize like Marie Curie. Her father was a Philosophy professor and when his sabbatical year at the University of Toronto brought the family to Canada, So-Ra enrolled at Jarvis Collegiate as an international student with a very rudimentary knowledge of English and a love of science. So-Ra credits the compassionate, talented and open-minded teachers at Jarvis for recognizing her enthusiasm for science and for supporting and encouraging her.
So-Ra completed high school and, inspired by a presentation by a University of Toronto biomedical engineering researcher, decided to study Engineering Science in university. But, while a student at the Electrical and Computer Engineering at Western University in London, Ontario, she became interested in Meteor Burst Communications. Studying these signals, which are sent to shooting stars, combined her love of the outdoors, where she could observe the stars, and the appeal of applying science to real-world problems. After completing her Master’s degree at Western, So-Ra returned to Korea to work in the Space Business Division of Hyundai Electronics building commercial satellites. Then she returned to Canada to work as a systems engineer in the MDA Space Mission International Space Station Program for 8 years. Her desire to be a professor eventually drew her to pursue her PhD in Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo.
So-Ra is passionate about her work as a professor in the School of Engineering and Technology at Conestoga College and a Principal Investigator in the school’s Centre for Smart Manufacturing. “I am guided by what John Tibbits, President of Conestoga College, says – What you do here counts out there”, says So-Ra. “My goal is for my students to be more employable by adding a meaningful line on their resumes that distinguishes them. I want them to learn about ethics and critical thinking and to be able to work independently and as part of a team.”
As with all degree programs at Conestoga, the project-based Bachelor of Engineering curriculum features a mix of theoretical and hands-on learning, where students apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to projects that bring that knowledge to life. Working with industry partners within the Centre for Smart Manufacturing allows students to participate in providing solutions to industry problems related to topics including robotics, automation, mechanical design and prototyping, cybersecurity, machine learning control of automation and machine vision. So-Ra’s dual role as professor and principal investigator provides her with the opportunity to teach the next generation of engineers as well as to work on tangible problems with industry.
To relax, So-Ra enjoys learning how to read different languages. She is currently learning Greek and Arabic and compares matching sounds to letters to solving an encrypted code. “It uses a different part of my brain than engineering”, she notes.
So-Ra credits her parents, and especially her father, for supporting her early interest in science and her academic and professional journey. “I have been lucky to have great mentors in my parents and my colleagues in the Centre for Smart Manufacturing.” And, in turn, she participates in outreach programs to encourage the study of STEM subjects and to promote women in engineering.
So-Ra Chung’s passion for teaching and mentoring her students, her inquisitiveness and her work as a professional engineer who has found a way to combine her love of the outdoors with her love of science is an inspiring researcher, professor and role model in her personal and professional communities.
Associate Professor, Queen’s School of Computing, Queen’s University
The School of Computing at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario has one of the highest percentages of female students in undergraduate Computer Science in Canada. In large part, that is due to the outstanding work and dedication of Wendy Powley.
Wendy’s passions are computer science education, teaching and outreach. For more than 30 years, Wendy has personally mentored and inspired thousands of women across the country and internationally and has worked tirelessly to celebrate and connect Canadian women in computing.
Computer science and teaching are far from Wendy’s original plan, as a high-school student, to work as a flight attendant – even though she had never been on an airplane. When her guidance counsellor pointed out that she wasn’t tall enough for that career, she decided to pursue studies in Psychology and Education instead in order to work with children with intellectual disabilities. It was her first job after graduation, as a research assistant on a study in psychology and urology at Queen’s University, that introduced her to computer science. “I taught people how to urinate!” recalls Wendy. “The study was on how biofeedback could be used to help people who weren’t able to properly empty their bladders. I was tasked with analyzing data collected by the toilet and through EMG (electromyography).”
This first experience with using computers to solve real-world problems inspired Wendy to pursue a master’s degree in Computer Science and launched her career as a Research Associate and, eventually, a professor at Queen’s University.
Wendy teaches more than 1,000 students per year and she especially enjoys teaching those in their first year. Sharing her first-hand understanding of Impostor Syndrome and her struggle to learn to code has helped students, many of them women, understand that these challenges are normal and that they can be overcome. Wendy’s support has motivated many students to pursue or continue their studies in Computer Science.
Wendy’s experience helped her understand the need to encourage students outside of the School of Computing to learn to code. She restructured a computing course for students in the humanities to include mentorship by lab assistants in the weekly hands-on labs. This resulted in the enrollment of a record numbers of female students in a second course in computing.
In 2003, Wendy founded Queen’s Women in Computing (QWIC) for female-identifying students and faculty. Under Wendy’s leadership, QWIC is currently run by students, with upper year students mentoring their younger counterparts and a recently-introduced program includes computer science alumni as mentors and role models.
Wendy’s outreach and support of women to pursue studies and careers in Computer Science is not limited to Queen’s University. Wendy founded what is now the premier Canadian conference for women in computing in 2010. Wendy has led the organization of CAN-CWiC, the annual Canadian celebration of women in computing, for 12 years. Through Wendy’s vision and leadership, the conference has grown to a national annual event that attracts more than 750 attendees from universities, colleges and tech companies across Canada. CAN-CWiC provides a unique opportunity for students to hear from keynote speakers, presenters and panelists who share their stories of professional challenges and achievements. The conference also offers graduate students a chance to present their research to female faculty members for their feedback. Students who attended CAN-CWIC have progressed to roles in the tech industry and are invited back to the conference to serve as role models and mentors for students and young professionals. In 2023, a Mentoring Circles program was added, for senior faculty to discuss research and teaching issues in academia with junior faculty members and graduate students.
Wendy also works with young women in high school through the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing Awards Canada program to inspire them to pursue careers in technology. Over 100 female students in Canada received awards through the program in 2022. AiC award winners are invited to attend the CAN-CWiC conference to meet with undergraduate and graduate students as well as industry professionals.
Wendy’s dedication to promoting gender diversity in computing was recognized by CS-Can|Info-Can, Canada’s national organization for computer science professionals, in 2022 with the organization’s Distinguished Service Award for her outstanding service to the Canadian computer science community.
As Wendy reflects on her career, she says “I would never have imagined I would be teaching full time.” After attaining her master’s degree, she worked as a project manager on research study on air traffic control at the Royal Military College and a range of projects in the Queen’s School of Computing prior to being hired as a professor in the school. And, as she looks to the future, Wendy plans to focus on growing the Aspirations in Computing Awards and looks forward to resuming travel after three years of a pandemic-imposed break of meeting with family, friends and colleagues around the world.
Wendy’s tremendous work on promoting women in computing is perhaps best expressed by her former student, Nailah Ogeer, who recently posted on LinkedIn: “Wendy Powley was my first female mentor in computer science 20 years ago in university. She helped me in so many ways throughout the years. After attending CAN-CWiC 2022, I invited Wendy to come talk to our Women in Tech group at work. I asked her what made her think about organizing the first event in 2010. She said, ‘I wanted to bring the conference to my students’ and ‘I want my students to hear from ladies in the real world.’ She also told us that it is so important that women in industry empower girls to join technology. Thank you, Wendy, for all you do for the community.”
You can see more of Wendy’s impact in the community in the visualizations below:
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