In honour of SFU Co-op's 40th Anniversary, we present to you our new alumni project: Co-op Icons! Each month of this anniversary year, we will be releasing a profile on an SFU Co-op alum containing a video interview and a timeline that illustrates their journey. Our Co-op alumni have gone on to do great things, and we are proud to showcase the stories of people who began their career journey right here! Join us in celebrating our 40th birthday and also the incredible impact that our alumni have made around the world.
Charles Chang graduated from Simon Fraser University in 1995 with a Bachelor of Business Administration. During his time at SFU, he completed four Co-op work terms and even met his wife on his first Co-op with Capilano Suspension Bridge. He is currently the President and Founder of Lyra Growth Partners, which provides smart private capital and brand-savvy coaching to emerging consumer brands. Prior to starting Lyra Growth Partners, Charles was the President and Founder of Vega until it sold in 2015 for US$550 million. In June 2016, he donated $10 million to the SFU Beedie School of Business to establish the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship.
Geoffrey Thor Desmoulin graduated from Simon Fraser University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science and returned two years later to complete his Master’s of Science in the Faculty of Applied Science. He then pursued another master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering and completed a Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering. He has held various research positions, has hosted Spike TV’s hit television show, “Deadliest Warrior” and is currently the President and the senior engineer at GTD Engineering. He is a self-proclaimed “David Hasselhoff of Science” and jokes that “success is largely based on hair style, level of tan, and an indomitable will.”
Sarah Chow graduated in 2007 from Simon Fraser University with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. She went on to complete a PhD in 2013. During her studies, Sarah was one of a select group of participants invited to an intensive workshop on science communications at the Banff Centre. After completing her thesis, Sarah joined a Vancouver production company where she is now researching and producing a wide range of documentaries seen around the world.
Jim Carter graduated from Simon Fraser University in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. Jim completed four Co-op work terms at; B.C. Athletics, SFU, Canadian forces Base Chilliwack and Downtown Nautilus Rehab Clinic. After graduation Jim became a fire fighter and is currently a Captain in the Port Coquitlam Fire Department. While working as a fire fighter Jim came back to SFU and completed a Masters degree and PhD. Dr. Carter has been a sessional instructor at SFU for the past 15 years and teaches courses in health and exercise physiology. Jim is also an instructor and research associate at the Justice Institute of B.C.
Cindy Sahlstrom graduated from Simon Fraser University in 1986. During her time at SFU, she participated in the Co-op program and finished five self-directed work terms with Hedden Chong and Smith. She went on to pass her Uniform Final Exam at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of British Columbia, and later began working at PricewaterhouseCoopers as an Accountant in downtown Vancouver. Cindy then opened her own Bed and Breakfast, the Everett House, in 1994 with her husband and additionally opened her own practice in 2000 called Sahlstrom & Associates. In addition to running two businesses, Cindy has also raised three children and is currently an Executive with the Fraser Valley Chartered Accountants Association in BC.
Angela Brooks-Wilson graduated from Simon Fraser University in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. She completed four Co-op terms at CanTest Ltd, the PetroCanada Process Research Center in Calgary, the Alberta Research Council, and finished with an Honours Research Project at SFU. Today, Angela is not only a Co-op employer working as a researcher with BC Cancer Agency, but she is also a professor and the Associate Chair for the Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology at SFU.
Neil Van Wouw
Neil van Wouw graduated from Simon Fraser University in 1986 with a Bachelor of Arts in Computing Science, though this is not what he always pictured himself doing. After completing a semester in engineering and then taking a break to pursue Jazz, Neil came back to SFU and began to explore areas in hopes of discovering his passion. This is where he stumbled upon a computer programming course, and subsequently his first Co-op job with the Engineering firm at H.A. Simons. Since then, Neil has moved to Japan and is currently the COO/CEO of Vanten in Tokyo, where he helped to create the first cloud platform for digital signage.
Liisa Atva graduated from Simon Fraser University in 1986 with a Bachelors degree in Business Administration. She articled as a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and Charted Business Valuator (CBV). Liisa was one of the first accounting Co-op students completing 5 work terms. She is now a freelance writer and has been published in The Globe & Mail, The Vancouver Sun and Province, The Journal of Business Valuation, Huffington Post, and local newspapers.