Look Ahead

Innovation Driven by Diversity

Time and Date: 11:00 am–12:00 pm on Saturday, May 4
Session Type: Panel
Panelists: Alison Anderson, Karimah Es Sabar, Edoye Porbeni, and Anna Stukas (moderator)

Innovations arise when the status quo is challenged—when people question "the way things have always been done" and look at problems from new angles. Several studies have pointed to diversity as being a fundamental component of innovation; diversity inherently brings different perspectives to solving a problem. While this may be great in principle, the practicalities of achieving diversity in STEM fields can be challenging. This panel explores how diversity fuels innovation, strategies for improving diversity in your organization, and highlights stories of both challenges and successes in driving innovation through diversity.

Alison Anderson is a professional engineer and the first WWEST Associate Chair at Yukon College. Alison received a Bachelor degree in Systems Design Engineering from University of Waterloo, then moved to the Yukon where she managed the design, construction, and commissioning of drinking water systems throughout the territory while at Opus International Consultants. She soon became the manager of the international engineering company's Yukon operations.

Alison is passionate about inclusion and innovation. As the Technology Innovation Officer at Yukon College, Alison led initiatives to increase gender diversity and inclusion in the Yukon innovation community. While in that role, she founded the WWEST Associate Chair program at Yukon College to increase the awareness and participation of women in STEM in the Yukon. She is the past chair of Engineers Yukon 30 by 30. Alison is currently Instructor/Coordinator of the Yukon Water and Wastewater Operator Program at Yukon College.

Karimah Es Sabar is the CEO and Partner at Quark Venture Inc. A highly-recognized Canadian life sciences leader with extensive global experience, Ms. Es Sabar has been a pillar of the bioscience community for decades, lending her leadership to multi-national pharmaceutical/biotechnology companies, start-ups, not-for-profit organizations, strategic public private partnerships, and venture investment firms. She has served on numerous national and international public and private boards over the course of her career with the most recent appointment being the Chair, Health & Biosciences Economic Strategy Table, Government of Canada.

Prior to joining Quark Venture, Ms. Es Sabar was CEO and President of the Centre for Drug Research and Development, CEO and President of LifeSciences B.C. She has raised more than $1.2B for various private and public global enterprises. In recognition of her pioneering work, Ms. Es Sabar has received multiple prestigious awards, including Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award.

Ms. Edoye Porbeni is Founder and CEO of Future Health Ventures Inc., a group of companies that focus on innovation and quality improvement in healthcare. Her daily work involves leading her teams in helping healthcare organizations, communities, health sector leaders, and physicians realize their visions for change.

Through project planning, management, and evaluation, she's led initiatives to improve health services for youth, women, and seniors, as well as individuals living with both chronic and infectious diseases in Canada and overseas. Her professional interests include the social and political context of health as it pertains to women, immigrants, and indigenous populations, as well as the application of technology and project management sciences to the field of healthcare.

Ms. Porbeni is also committed to volunteering and currently sits on the board of the Kindness Foundation. She recently spent a year in voluntary service as a Program Development Adviser in Kathmandu, Nepal. There, she taught basic principles of project and program management to the senior leadership of the country's first, and largest, HIV/AIDS organization. Ms. Porbeni holds a Bachelor's Degree in Communications and International Relations from Georgia State University (USA), as well as Masters of Public Health and a Diploma in Applied Project Management, both from Simon Fraser University (SFU)—where she now funds an entrance award. In addition to her work, she also teaches Project Management subjects.

Anna Stukas is a Business Development Lead at Carbon Engineering (CE), a Canadian-based clean energy company leading the commercialization of groundbreaking technology that captures carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere, and synthesizes it into clean, affordable transportation fuels. Anna is a professional engineer with more than 15 years' experience bridging the gap between technology and business to overcome barriers to CleanTech commercialization. Anna previously worked with Angstrom Power and BIC developing hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, and has led a variety of CE initiatives from strategic projects to government programs. Anna holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Victoria.