Look Around

Being an Ally in the Workplace

Time and Date: 11:00 am–12:00 pm on Saturday, May 4
Session Type: Panel
Panelists: Soundous Ettayebi, Eleanor Huynh, Amyn Rajan, and Dr. Sheryl Staub-French (moderator)

When biases and assumptions emerge in a workplace environment, they may not be widely noticed and the "target" may not have the ability to directly address them. Allies play a crucial role in identifying and naming the behaviour, supporting the "target", and creating solutions. This panel showcases a number of allies and discusses how everyone can be an ally, regardless of their position in an organization.

Soundous Ettayebi is the Indigenous Outreach Coordinator at UBC's Geering Up Engineering Outreach. Geering Up's mandate is to promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to youth across British Columbia regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status through a variety of engaging and hands on programming. In her role, Soundous works to make STEM education more accessible to Indigenous youth in the province through her team's delivery of in class workshops and summer camps. Her team works closely with a number of Indigenous communities to incorporate their unique histories and traditional teachings into programming. Through these collaborations, students see the value in their traditional knowledge and how it can be support a future career in STEM.

Soundous received her B.Sc in Molecular Biology and Genetics from the University of Guelph followed by a Master of Management from Sauder School of Business. Throughout her educational journey, she has worked with various non-profit organizations and charities that promote access to health services and educational opportunities for underserved populations. Her diverse background and love of travel has ignited her passion for working with others and supporting her local and global communities.

Eleanor Huynh is the Program Manager at Windows Developer Productivity. She received a Bachelors in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Communications from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC. During her studies, she interned at multiple medical research laboratories and tech corporations and gained her love of empathizing and creating for the customer, which led her to join Microsoft through their Academy of College Hires (MACH). She lead MACH's IT chapter, driving global program initiatives between the US and India to empower new employees to set themselves up for success in their career. She has taken that focus to Windows, where she is a Program Manager, building an intelligent onboarding experience for new developers that knows they are here before they start and greets them with a fully personalized experience that helps skyrocket them to productivity in their new role. 

Eleanor is also deeply passionate about diversity in tech and led the Women in Engineering chapter at her university for many years before becoming a Grace Hopper Conference Ambassador for Microsoft in 2017. In addition, she also revels in the handmade revolution of today, being a #GirlBoss and running her own knitting business, Onana Knits, alongside her partner, Rachel, where she loves creating fashion that is simply adorable—and adorably simple.

Amyn Rajan is a software industry veteran, SFU alum, and father with a passion for supporting the community and empowering women in technology. A serial entrepreneur with expertise in mobile, BI, OLAP, data access, data analytics, cloud, and Big Data, Amyn has more than 20 years' management experience, having built two very successful companies with positive exits for the shareholders.

As the former president and CEO of Simba Technologies, Amyn led a highly skilled team of more than 90 people, developing data connectivity and analytics software for some of the world's leading software companies including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, SAP, and Teradata. Prior to this, he developed global electronic banking software for HSBC Canada, serving a portion of his tenure in Hong Kong. In 2007, he was recognized as one of Business in Vancouver magazine's Top Forty Under 40.

Amyn has made philanthropy an integral part of his philosophy. He supports community-focused charities such as the United Way and the Aga Khan Foundation's World Partnership Walk, which raises funds to fight global poverty. Amyn has also invested heavily in local universities to educate our leaders of tomorrow, paying special attention to women in technology and having endowed various scholarships at SFU, UBC, and UVic. In 2011, Amyn was appointed Co-Chair of SFU's Faculty of Applied Sciences Advisory Board. 

Dr. Sheryl Staub-French is a Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and the Goldcorp Professor for Women in Engineering at the University of British Columbia. Sheryl leads a targeted recruitment strategy for UBC Engineering that plans to increase the number of women enrolled in its programs from the national average of 20% to 50% by 2020. She established the eng•cite engineering outreach program to get girls engaged and excited about engineering. eng•cite works with teachers, counsellors, parents, and high school students to promote engineering education and provide mentorship and role models to encourage girls and young women to pursue engineering careers. Sheryl is also the Director of the Building Information Modeling (BIM) Topics Lab where she leads research focused on understanding and improving best practices for the delivery of sustainable building construction projects through effective and collaborative use of BIM. In her spare time, she plays Lego, soccer, and beam ball with her kids.