CEO Message

Message from the CEO

May was a month of celebration for the Profound Impact team, our partners and our communities.

I was honoured to be recognized, along with my late husband, Scott Vanstone, renowned mathematician, researcher and co-founder of Certicom Corporation, as a Laureate in the 2024 Waterloo Region Entrepreneur Hall of Fame for our founding of TrustPoint Innovation Technologies. The Entrepreneur Hall of Fame celebrates local business founders who have made a positive, lasting impact in the community and I’m delighted to join this group of innovative leaders.

Profound Impact Corporation was proud to sponsor the 2024 KW Oktoberfest Rogers Women of the Year Awards, an event that celebrated, recognized and paid tribute to the collective accomplishments and of 123 incredible women in the Waterloo Region. As sponsor of the STEM category, we’re pleased to congratulate award recipient Linda Li, an Environmental Engineer and Associate with Dillon Consulting. Linda has contributed to complex and multidisciplinary projects in the area of water, energy, and climate change.

I was pleased to be interviewed by Disruption Magazine Canada to share how Profound Impact leverages AI to provide the perfect match of funding opportunities with academic researchers and corporate partners. You can read about my career journey and the work we’re doing at Profound Impact in this Women in Tech article as well as a feature in the I Am Unbreakable magazine.

Guardian Women, a community built by Guardian Capital Advisors LP to focus on bringing women together to learn from one another, presented a Women Disrupting with Purpose event on May 29, where I participated in a fireside chat with Micha Choi, Client Portfolio Manager at Guardian. It was a pleasure to share stories of my experience as an entrepreneur and philanthropist at this exciting event.

The Profound Impact team was busy connecting with our academic partners in May. Sherryl Petricevic, our Director of Strategic Alliances and Partnerships, presented at CARA 2024 on Revolutionizing Grant Funding Using AI, sharing insights from current users of our Research Impact platform. CARA, the Canadian Association of Research Administrators, serves as the national voice for research administrators in Canada, uniting professionals from diverse roles in this ever-evolving field. We’re proud to have been a part of this informative event, featuring expert panelists and fostering innovation in research administration.

Jacqueline Watty, our Business Development Manager, hosted a round table discussion at the Polytechnics Canada Conference on May 15th. Topics included the challenges and opportunities faced by polytechnics and colleges when it comes to securing funding, working with industry partners and tackling a growing to-do list on a shrinking resource budget.

We’re pleased to introduce you to Joanne McKinley in this month’s Impact Story. Joanne, who is Director of Software Development at Google and Co-Site Lead of Google Waterloo, is an established industry leader, passionate advocate and mentor, recognized innovator, a role model for women in technology and an inspiration for young women considering careers in computer science.

In this month’s Researcher Spotlight, you’ll meet Professor Anita Layton, the Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematical Biology and Medicine, and Professor of Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, Pharmacy and Biology at the University of Waterloo. Anita has been recognized as an influential figure in applied mathematics research at the interface of mathematical computation and biomedical sciences, has inspired new experimental and clinical studies in the area of renal physiology and associated medical care and has highlighted the importance of gender differences in mathematical models for biological systems.

As we move into June, we look forward to participating in the Collision Conference in Toronto on June 17-20 and the NCURA AI Symposium in Alexandria, VA on June 24.  We look forward to seeing many of you at these events.

As always, thank you for your support and we hope that you enjoy this month’s edition of Profound Connections.

Sherry Shannon-Vanstone

Joanne McKinley

Joanne McKinley
Director of Software Development, Google
Co-Site Lead, Google Waterloo

As a high school student in the rural community of Petrolia, Ontario, Joanne McKinley enjoyed a wide range of subjects. “I was a generalist with many interests”, she says. “At age 13, I wanted to be a meteorologist.”

Inspired by her math teachers, the majority of whom were women and University of Waterloo graduates, and the Computer Science courses offered by her high school, Joanne applied to and was accepted to the BMath program at Waterloo. “The program was attractive because the curriculum was designed with an equal number of computer science, math and elective courses,” says Joanne. Her participation in the Cooperative Education program as an undergraduate student provided excellent software development experience in large and small companies.

Joanne graduated with a BMath degree in 2000. She followed that with graduate studies in the Computer Graphics Laboratory at the University of Waterloo to earn an MMath degree, focusing on computer graphics and user interface research. “User interface has become a theme in my career,” says Joanne. “It’s everyone’s responsibility to provide an excellent user experience when you’re building products.”

Joanne started her career at Reqwireless, a Waterloo-based start-up company that developed mobile phone software. Reqwireless was acquired by Google in July 2005 as part of the company’s strategy to expand their mobile offerings and to establish offices outside of their headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area. The acquisition was the seed for Google Waterloo, now the largest Google office in Canada.

Joanne co-founded the Google Waterloo office as one of the first developers of the mobile Gmail app and she has since led the delivery of mobile Gmail across multiple generations of mobile platforms, co-authoring over a dozen software patents. Currently, Joanne is Director of Software Development at Google and co-site lead of Google Waterloo where, along with co-lead Jennifer Smith, she helps manage 1,400 full-time staff.

A passionate advocate for championing and developing female leaders in technology, Joanne is a powerful model for work-life balance. When she had the first of her three children, Joanne wanted to spend more time with her family and asked to work part-time. Her proposal was accepted. “It was simply a matter of asking and then also proving that you can do it as well,” she says. She has earned multiple promotions, including becoming Google Canada’s first woman Director of Software Development, all while working 32-hour weeks. When asked how she can fit her work into 32 hours a week, Joanne notes, “I have found that it comes down to very careful prioritization and being aggressive about the basic principles of delegating to others and growing others’ skill sets so that things don’t grind to a halt if I’m not in the office.”

As a mentor to many Google employees, Joanne prioritizes working with women and with other underrepresented minorities as well as those seeking flexible work schedules. “I focus on mentoring women a little further along in their career. Senior women often don’t have role models and need mentoring. They can, in turn, help women at all different levels of their careers,” she adds.

Joanne is passionate about encouraging young girls to consider computer science and similar disciplines as career options and is an active participant in the Waterloo Women’s Impact Network (WINN), which promotes women and underrepresented genders in math. She has served as a volunteer with the Technovation Girls Waterloo competition, a program designed to equip young girls and women with the confidence, skills, and network to pursue a career in tech. 

The University of Waterloo Faculty of Mathematics recognized Joanne’s exceptional contributions and leadership in software development, as well as her work as an advocate and role model for women in technology with the J.W. Graham Medal in Computing and Innovation in 2020.

Music was important to Joanne’s family and when her ten-year-old daughter started playing the flute, Joanne decided to start taking lessons from the same teacher. Although she didn’t know anything about woodwind instruments, she is now a member of a flute choir and performs in community concerts. And she sees the connection between music and her work. “Software development is like music – it needs the focus of sitting down at the keyboard to work on the hard part of the code or to practice the song,” she says.

Joanne has worked as part of the Google Workspace team for most of her tenure at Google and notes that it is a very welcoming place for women – the Vice President and General Manager is a woman as are an unusually large proportion of directors. “Our VP/GM has established a culture that cares deeply about the products and user experience and each other. I have a support network of women in offices around the world – sisters with similar work experiences that have been a very important part of my development as a director,” says Joanne. 

An established industry leader, passionate advocate and mentor, and recognized innovator, Joanne McKinley is truly a role model for women in technology and an inspiration for young women considering careers in computer science.

Do you have an impact story to share? Let us know at for a chance to be featured in an upcoming newsletter!