Cindy Forbes

Cindy Forbes

Chair of the Board, University of Waterloo

A dedicated team builder with a passion for data and analytics, Cindy Forbes has cemented her legacy as an innovator and strategic thinker, challenging the status quo to facilitate growth in all facets of her professional life. Before retiring last year, Forbes was the first female Chief Actuary at Manulife Financial, tasked with leading a global actuarial team responsible for ensuring the financial stability of the company. She was also the company’s first female Chief Financial Officer for Manulife Asia, leading the finance, risk management and actuarial functions across 11 countries. 

“I always want to make a positive impact, meaning that I want to leave the department or the organization better than I found it,” she said.

From digitization to integration of data and analytics into Manulife’s operations, Forbes was an invaluable asset to the modernization of Canada’s largest insurance company. She initiated a project to move the company’s valuation into the cloud – a first among insurance companies in Canada. The same project rewrote Manulife’s liability valuation systems to reduce the amount of manual work required by actuaries, significantly improving quality control over the valuation of the companies liabilities, which at the time were close to $300-billion. Forbes also built the company’s global artificial intelligence and advanced analytics function from the ground up. Within four years, that “function” has become a global organization of over 200 people responsible for building and embedding advanced analytics models into the business, delivering insights and driving financial impact. 

Forbes’ motivation for her work stems from a number of factors, including her desire for continuous improvement, as well as her commitment to mentorship for young professionals. 

“I like to help young professionals achieve their potential, be a positive role model, coach them, remove obstacles, show them how to get things done,” she said. “Largely it’s about creating a high performance team – a team that pulls together, that’s based on trust, and can make the very difficult look quite easy.”

Many of the talented team members she has hired have been students from the University of Waterloo, where Forbes obtained her Math degree, specializing in actuarial science.  Forbes was in the co-op program, which allows students to gain paid work experience, completing six work terms during her five years at Waterloo. She credits the program for providing the necessary professional experience to help her find a job in the field post-graduation and to make more intelligent, informed career decisions.

“It really sets you up for success in terms of learning about the workplace and putting into focus what you were learning at school,” she said. 

Forbes remains a fervent supporter of the University of Waterloo, having served as Chair of the Board since May 2017. In her role as board chair, Forbes successfully led the recruitment of a new President for the University, engaging a large group of external governors, faculty, staff and students. She is currently leading a review of the university’s governance framework, identifying opportunities for the board to be more effective and have greater impact and oversight of the university’s strategic planning. 

In addition to her role as board chair at the University of Waterloo, Forbes also serves on the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan Board. She additionally held the role of Special Advisor to the Premier of Ontario from February to January 2022, providing advice and guidance on creating more digital, responsive and flexible public services. This includes the digitization of court proceedings and enabling on-line renewal of drivers licenses and health cards. 

A natural innovator and life-long learner, Forbes remains highly attuned to global, economic and technological trends that will impact businesses and corporations worldwide. The pandemic accelerated trends that were already in place in terms of digitization, use of data to customize experiences and growing concerns about the implications of the same.  Her prediction is that the acceleration of these trends will continue against a backdrop of growing geo-political tensions.

“It is going to be interesting to see how this all plays out and how global corporations navigate the changes ahead,” she said. 

You can view some of Forbes’ accomplishments in the images below:

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Do you have an impact story to share? Reach out to us at connections@profoundimpact.com for a chance to have your story featured in an upcoming newsletter! 

CEO Message

Message from the CEO

Happy New Year and welcome to the first 2022 edition of Profound Connections!

I hope that you all had a restful holiday season. With a new year underway, the team here at Profound Impact™ can’t wait to share with you what we have planned for 2022 but before we do that…let’s look back at 2021.

To close out 2021, our team launched a new initiative: 12 Days of Impact, designed to encourage people and organizations to contribute their time, resources and talents to help address local challenges. Our 12 Days of Impact calendar outlined daily challenges that focused on spreading the giving spirit during the holiday season. Not only did our team members at Profound Impact contribute to these daily challenges, but as an organization, we took it one step further. 

Through our efforts, we were able to give back to organizations doing vital work in our greater community. Additionally, based on the social media engagement and votes of our followers, Profound Impact was able to support Actua, Canada’s largest STEM outreach organization. Profound Impact’s contribution will support the delivery of impactful hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) experience to youth across Canada. Many youth including Indigenous youth, girls, and at-risk youth face barriers that prevent access to education opportunities. Through Actua’s national inclusion and diversity programs, they are hard at work to remove these barriers.

Now on to 2022…coming in March is International Women’s Day (IWD) 2022 with the theme #BreakTheBias. We are thrilled to once again be working with the Women in Communications and Technology Waterloo Region Chapter (WCT WR) and 18 other organizations representing this vibrant community to present during the month of March several  IWD 2022 events and amplify over 10 other events in celebration of women in the Waterloo Region. 

For more information on this event and additional exciting news from our team, read on and enjoy this edition of Profound Connections!

Warmest regards, 

Sherry Shannon-Vanstone

Ivan Yuen

Ivan Yuan

Co-Founder, Wattpad

An accomplished entrepreneur, respected mentor and ambassador for the University of Waterloo, Ivan Yuen has cemented his legacy in the software development industry. Yuen is the co-founder of Wattpad, an e-reading and storytelling platform that has amassed millions of users worldwide. Founded in 2006 with a friend and former co-worker Allen Lau, Wattpad has quickly become a global entertainment company, with over 90 million readers, writers and filmmakers connected through the power of story. While Wattpad’s success is in large part due to the commitment and perseverance of Yuen and Lau, Yuen credits the University of Waterloo’s co-op program for giving him the tools and resources needed to discover his niche in the tech sector. 

Yuen enrolled in the University’s computer engineering co-op program in order to gain real-world industry experience and make professional connections. He spent the first portion of his co-op working in hardware design at some of North America’s top firms including IBM and AMD. While these work placements helped Yuen to further develop his professional experience, it wasn’t until he switched to a role in software engineering at a startup company that Yuen found his true passion. The smaller teams, quick turnaround times and ability to see the impacts of his work instantly were the most gratifying elements of software engineering in a startup environment. “Hooked from that point on,” Yuen would take these valuable work experiences and chart his own path in software development, ensuring that training and mentorship were paramount in his endeavours. 

Now the Chief Strategy Officer of Wattpad, Yuen is passionate about providing leadership and guidance to those he recruits for various positions within the company. He “demystifies ideas about software startups” and offers honest, first-hand accounts of his successes, failures and opportunities for the future. While hiring and retaining the right talent is important to the success of his company, Yuen is incredibly inspired when Wattpad employees transition from their roles to start their own venture. He believes that giving emerging tech talent the training and confidence to pursue their own interests has a powerful multiplier effect and is essential for facilitating the growth of the tech ecosystem across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. 

In addition to employee mentorship and promoting expansion of the region’s tech industry, Yuen’s platform, Wattpad, has been tremendously important to the advancement of writers, storytellers, filmmakers and many more creative professionals whose voices may never have been discovered. Before Wattpad existed, traditional publishing companies were essentially gatekeepers, determining what authors or stories had enough merit to move through the system and onto store shelves. Only those with access and opportunity had any chance of finding success as an author or storyteller—often leaving racial, ethnic and other minority groups without a platform to share their unique experiences. Wattpad challenged and changed this established industry dynamic. The platform empowered those who were otherwise excluded from traditional publishing avenues, enabling those in marginalized communities and young aspiring writers to share their perspectives with a limitless audience. It enabled authors to mix different story genres with important themes of gender, sexuality and race without judgement. It has fundamentally changed the course of modern publishing and given prominence to a diversity of voices, stories and issues that have historically been ignored. 

Wattpad’s success has quickly expanded into the entertainment industry, with movie and TV producers constantly discovering new writers who have published their work on the platform. Recent examples of stories that have been made into movies or TV shows include After, a romantic drama written by Wattpad author Anna Todd and acquired by Paramount Pictures for film adaptation. The Netflix hit The Kissing Booth also started as a novel published on Wattpad by Beth Reekles, who was only 15 years old when she was discovered. Its commercial success has led to the production of a trilogy of films. With over 100 stories currently in different stages of film or TV show development, Yuen is hopeful that many Wattpad authors will have their works showcased at movie theatres or on major streaming platforms in the future.

Looking ahead, Yuen and the Wattpad team will continue to leverage the power of new technology including blockchain to give writers and content creators greater control over access to their work. Readers will also have the opportunity to contribute to their favourite authors, garnering rewards along the way. As the company further expands into new territory, Yuen will continue to mentor and inspire young tech talent to promote innovation and entrepreneurship across the region. 

You can view some of Yuen’s accomplishments in the image below:

Do you have an impact story to share? Reach out to us at connections@profoundimpact.com for a chance to have your story featured in an upcoming newsletter!

CEO Message

Message from the CEO

Happy holidays and welcome to the December edition of Profound Connections!

I hope that you all have enjoyed being a part of the Profound Impact™ community this year and have benefitted from our regular Profound Connections newsletters. 

The season of giving has arrived — and with it, we are reminded of the importance of giving back to our local communities. This is an opportunity for all of us — whether it be through donating our time, in-kind items or funds — to give back to those in need. Our team believes deeply that encouraging small acts of generosity can have big impacts on those who experience undue hardship. Read on to learn more about how we have chosen to make an impact this giving season.

Building on the global #GivingTuesday movement, we launched Profound Impact’s 12 Days of Impact campaign on November 30, designed to encourage people and organizations to contribute their time, resources and talents to help address local challenges. For the last 12 week days, our team has committed to daily challenges that focus on spreading the giving spirit.

Further, our team has been running a special 12 Days of Impact giveaway on our social channels. For every entry (like, comment, share or follow) that our 12 Days of Impact Instagram giveaway receives from November 30, 2021 – December 15, 2021, Profound Impact will commit a $1 donation to Actua Canada — Canada’s largest STEM outreach organization preparing youth to be innovators and leaders. 

As our campaign wraps up later today, we will be announcing shortly the final amount that will be donated to Actua Canada as a result of our community’s engagement.  

Before we draw 2021 to a close, we challenge you to do something that will make a difference in your community. Download our 12 Days of Impact calendar here and participate in our daily challenges at any point using the hashtag #12DaysOfImpact! 

Thank you for your continued engagement and your ongoing support. From our team to yours, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season.

Warmest regards, 

Sherry Shannon-Vanstone

Sohail Ramzan

Sohail Ramzan
Sohail Ramzan
Technical Product Manager, Profound Impact Corporation

A born innovator with exceptional leadership skills, Sohail Ramzan has made his mark on the international tech community. From working with multinational software companies, Oracle partners and global multilevel marketing companies in Pakistan and the Middle-East, Sohail is now a technical program manager with Profound Impact™, leading a team that is building the company’s solutions including Connection Impact, an engagement and interaction platform; Career Impact, a career trajectory tool to provide actionable insights by analysing alumni career data;  and soon to be released Research Impact, a data-driven tool that assists research universities and institutions to achieve their goals of increasing the effectiveness of their research staff. 

Born in Pakistan, Sohail completed his MBA at Hamdard University in 2003 before pursuing a career as a software engineer. As time passed, Sohail continued to climb the corporate ladder, becoming a software development manager and then a project manager for companies in South Asia and the Middle East. In 2016, Sohail and his family decided to immigrate to Canada, where he continued to explore opportunities to advance his tech career. Sohail joined the Profound Impact team in 2019 as Technical Program Manager, where he has been building the organization’s diverse and talented workforce while inspiring product innovation.

A true advocate of career growth and team culture, Sohail brings compassion, communication and flexibility to his role, embracing a diversity of perspectives that ultimately leads to successful team outcomes. He was recently named a Timmy Award finalist for Best Tech Manager for his role in leading geographically distributed teams through unexpected challenges while inspiring performance and growth. Sohail’s stewardship and expertise has contributed greatly to Profound Impact’s success.

Sohail credits his family for giving him the inspiration and drive to pursue his professional goals. Sohail’s son was born with spina bifida, a neural tube defect that affects the spine. Despite the physical disability, his son has thrived in Canada. He is an ambassador for WeCare Canada, an organization that provides life-changing programs and services for children and youth with physical disabilities. A true advocate for children with special needs, Sohail’s son also represented Easter Seals Ontario by participating in fundraisers, radio commercials, telethons and other events to generate awareness and raise money for special needs children. His son’s ability to demonstrate this type of leadership at 13 years of age inspires Sohail in his professional journey to leverage the power of technology to make a difference in the world.  Sohail is working on his first book about accessibility and inclusiveness, planned to be launched in 2022.

Through his work at Profound Impact, Sohail is using his skills and expertise to lead the development of the company’s products including the Connection Impact platform, which functions as a digital community helping people become aware of undiscovered relationships. Through those relationships, the platform helps to accelerate connectivity and inspire collaborative solutions to difficult global problems. 

One of the most important organizational changes implemented by Sohail since joining Profound Impact was his decision to change the development model from being outsourced to being built in-house. Sohail hired his own team and began building the platform internally, which optimized performance, improved efficiency and expedited timelines. Sohail is also leading the creation of Profound Impact’s visualization tools such as the academic ancestry tool, which combines private and public data using artificial intelligence to create linkages between alumni. This tool has the capability to trace back hundreds of years, demonstrating the global impact of one’s educational ancestry.

Key to Sohail’s success has been his ability to inspire creativity amongst his team while facilitating collaboration and communication. Sohail rallies his team to produce high quality results, while creating an environment that avoids burnout. He celebrates his team’s successes, encourages career advancement through the attainment of certificates and new credentials, and frequently supports causes that his team is passionate about.

What keeps Sohail motivated is leveraging the power of data to make a difference in the world. His impact, both tangible and intangible, is quite significant. Sohail is incredibly proud of the effect he has had on younger people he has trained in the industry. Over his 18 years in software development management, Sohail has taught many people who have gone on to successful careers with multinational companies. His passion for mentorship and commitment to product innovation have made Sohail a true innovator, committed to leveraging the power of data and technology to inspire global change.

Sohail holds many technical certifications including:  AWS Certified Solution Architect (CSA),  Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA), Certified Scrum Master (CSM), Project Management Professional(PMP) and PRINCE2 Practitioner.

You can view some of Sohail’s accomplishments in the image below:

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Do you have an impact story to share? Reach out to us at connections@profoundimpact.com for a chance to have your story featured in an upcoming newsletter!

Research Matching Survey

Profound Impact, in partnership with Shawna Reibling, Knowledge Mobilization Officer at Wilfrid Laurier University, set out to better understand how Research Service Offices (RSO) across Canada communicate grant opportunities, partnerships and research policies. 

The team investigated various approaches, tools and processes / technology that Research Service Offices use to communicate to their stakeholder groups (researchers, professors, staff, faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students). Through interviews, a common pattern emerged from the educational institutions we met with around communication of opportunities and research matching. To learn more, Profound Impact and WLU partnered on a national survey to gain a deeper understanding of how research service units and staff communicate funding opportunities to faculty.

Interested in the results? Click here to receive a free report!

CEO Message

Message from the CEO

Welcome to the November edition of Profound Connections.

The past few weeks have been an exciting time for our team at Profound Impact™. 

We are proud to announce that our very own Sohail Ramzan, Technical Program Manager, was selected as the Toronto Region’s Best Tech Manager for the 7th annual Timmy Awards. Sohail’s contributions to Profound Impact have been immeasurable and we are thrilled that his talent and leadership are being recognized through this prestigious awards program. Congratulations, Sohail! 

In addition, Sherryl Petricevic, our Business Development Consultant at Profound Impact has been named a recipient of the 2021 Leading Women, Leading Girls — Building Communities Recognition Award from MPP Laura Mae Lindo. This recognition program acknowledges and celebrates women-identified Kitchener Centre residents who have demonstrated exceptional leadership to improve the lives of others and who have made substantial contributions to the community. 

Also new this month — I am thrilled to have been elected to CANARIE’s Board of Directors. It’s an honour to be joining such an esteemed group of professionals, all of which bring unparalleled expertise in technology, innovation, finance and academia. More on these announcements below!

This week is an exciting one as we celebrate National STEM Day (November 8) and Global Entrepreneurship Week (November 8-14). Here we are, 20 months since COVID-19 emerged, and we are working harder than ever to reboot our economies for a better, more sustainable and equitable post-pandemic world. These two national and global events signify how we can be rethinking our approach to build back stronger and regenerate growth. 

This past Monday, we had the opportunity to watch a special screening of the 3M produced documentary film “Not the Science Type” by the 3M Women’s Leadership Forum in celebration of National STEM Day. I invite you to watch the preview here. And don’t forget to check out the tens of thousands of activities, competitions and events hosted by millions of people all over the world in celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week. 

Thank you for your continued engagement and support.

Warmest regards, 

Sherry Shannon-Vanstone

History of an Idea

History of Bitcoin and Ethereum

Profound Impact is working on visualizations for the history of an idea.  We have two visualizations that we wish to share with you on the underlying security ingredients for Bitcoin and Ethereum.  Please check this out and let us know what you think.

John Loeprich

John Loeprich

Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Director
3iQ Corp.

Passionate about democratizing the financial services sector through innovation and bold leadership, John Loeprich is making his mark on the global economy. As Executive Vice-President, Chief Financial Officer and Director of 3iQ Corp., Canada’s largest digital asset manager, John is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the company’s finance and operations and leads the formulation of the company’s strategic planning. Part of his vision for 3iQ is to provide new financial opportunities for people around the world that are marginalized by traditional financial markets and limited in their business opportunities. Using blockchain technology, digital assets and distributed networks, John hopes to level the playing field and ensure everyone around the world has the opportunity to build wealth. 

John graduated from the University of Waterloo with a degree in mathematics, while also majoring in finance and business. He was enrolled in the university’s mathematics co-op program, which he credits as being integral to his professional development. Through various co-op placements, John was able to immerse himself in all elements of the business world, enabling him to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world situations. For a person who dreamed of one day becoming an entrepreneur, this type of exposure to specialized knowledge at such a young age would prove to be invaluable to his professional endeavours. 

After graduation, John worked in the traditional financial services sector with Smith, Nixon & Company Chartered Accountants, TD Bank Group and Fidelity Investments Canada Ltd. Holding various positions with these companies, John gained a deep understanding of a range of business sectors including finance, fund operations, internal audit, systems and operations, sales, project management, navigating regulatory processes and much more. He transitioned from traditional finance jobs in 1997, launching his own consulting firm, Magellan Consulting Group. From there, John became a partner at @rgentum Management & Research, where he helped introduce quantitative-driven mutual funds, as well as Canada’s first long-short mutual fund. This experience in the alternative investments field fed his desire to find other solutions to wealth management that would offer investors different options to traditional market-correlated investments.

As technology began to evolve in the financial services sector, so too did John’s desire to explore new opportunities offered by the digital assets sector of investment management. With the advent of cryptocurrency, John was given the opportunity to join 3iQ and to introduce a new asset class, using digital assets and blockchain technologies to ensure people around the world have affordable access to financial services and investment products that provided a hedge against inflation. By reducing the need for using financial institutions that charge large fees for money transfer services, blockchains and cryptocurrencies can help to reduce or eliminate fees as well as barriers to entry for those who don’t even have access to financial services.

Since its launch in 2012, 3iQ has become the first company in the world to have a regulator-approved, publicly listed bitcoin fund on a major exchange. Now the largest digital asset manager in Canada (and third largest in the world), 3iQ plans to continue to be innovative and break new ground in its pursuit of new financial opportunities in digital assets. 

Inspired by the transformative power of digital assets and cryptocurrency in global wealth distribution, John is optimistic about the opportunities that are beginning to emerge for so many people around the world that have been marginalized by the current financial systems in place. The hope is that investors will now have access to a new non-correlated asset in their investment portfolio and those who are currently financially disadvantaged will no longer have to pay exorbitant fees or resort to dangerous lending practices with high-interest rates. Entrepreneurs and business owners will also be able to receive payments in various currencies with less friction costs, helping fuel innovation and economic growth. 

While John’s legacy will undoubtedly be his role in the democratization of wealth across the world, his most rewarding work is being a mentor. By imparting knowledge to others, John has been able to hone his understanding of a multitude of business practices and distill it in a way that others can understand and apply in real-world situations. A self-proclaimed lifelong learner, John is passionate about teaching others the many aspects of the financial services industry, including its traditional roots and all aspects of the digital transformation currently underway. 

John’s contributions to advancing the use of blockchain technology, digital assets, cryptocurrency and distributed networks are “game-changing” and the impacts of his work will be felt for years to come. You can view some of his accomplishments in the image below:

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Do you have an impact story to share? Reach out to us at connections@profoundimpact.com for a chance to have your story featured in an upcoming newsletter!

CEO Message

Message from the CEO

Welcome to the October edition of Profound Connections.

Celebrating Women of Impact

October is Women’s History Month in Canada, a month dedicated to celebrating the contributions of Canadian women in building the country we know today.  

At Profound Impact™, we are celebrating the talented women who help to make up our exceptional team. We are proud to be a Canadian, woman-led company as we continue to connect great people to do great things. 

This year’s theme for Women’s History Month — Women Making History Now — recognizes the women who are making a lasting impact for our country today — including addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and moving us forward on the path of reconciliation.  

Our October Impact Story highlights Jean Becker, Senior Director of Indigenous Initiatives and Interim Associate Vice-President of Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Waterloo. A woman of impact, indeed — read on for the full story!

How can you join in the celebration for Women’s History Month?

  • We will be using the hashtag #WomensHistoryMonth all month long to celebrate the significant contributions that women have made, and continue to make, in shaping our society. We invite you to join in the conversation and do the same. 
  • You can nominate a woman of impact here. Women of Impact in Canada is an online gallery celebrating women’s achievements and contributions to Canadian society. 
  • Learn more about women’s contributions and important milestones in women’s rights in Canadian history.
  • Do you have an Impact Story to share about a woman who has made a difference in your life? Reach out to us at connections@profoundimpact.com for a chance to have your story featured in an upcoming newsletter!

Women have long been trailblazers in creating a better, more inclusive, and equal Canada. Today and every day forward, we must support, uplift and celebrate the women changing our world for the better.

Thank you for your continued engagement and support.