Leading the Way 2017
Paying it Forward the Role of a Champion

Register Today!

Leading the Way

You’re invited to attend the most compelling conference you will ever experience! In 2016 iWIST launched a conference aimed at building deeper connections for women in STEM. We came together, mid to senior level women who wanted to “pay it forward” and encourage women to stay in STEM.

We wanted to stop the exodus of discouraged women who leave the STEM sectors just when they can be role models.  The only way to grow the participation of women (especially in the underrepresented technology and engineering fields) is to build support for every stage of their journey. Join us for a deep dive into leadership.

Conference attendees from 2016 shared that the event exceeded expectations in delivering relevant and inspiring content but also made them feel like they “weren’t alone”. We will build on that sentiment in 2017 with a variety of speakers on topical themes and plenty of time for professional connections and networking. You belong here!

Memories from 2016

What We’ll Cover

  • 7:45 am – 8:30 am REGISTRATION and Breakfast – sponsored by Technical Safety BC

    Enjoy a Salt & Pepper Fox start to our conference day together. The best continental breakfast and perfect coffee (or tea) guaranteed to make you smile.

  • 8:30 am - 9:15 am Keynote: Debbie Landers, Toronto | Vice President, Cognitive & Industry Solutions, IBM Canada

    “It’s All Serious Until You Show Up in Mis-matched Shoes” – how humour and not taking myself too seriously has helped me build my reputation, career and amazing family.

  • 9:15 am – 10:00 am Panel: Making Change - so Women can Lead in STEM

    Moderator: Robyn Quinn, Chair iWIST, COO Big Bang Analytics Inc.

    – Christine Buerki, VP Clinical Operations, GenomeDx Biosciences
    – Lesley Esford, President, Life Sciences BC
    – Larkin MacKenzie-Ast, General Manager of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs (FWE), BC Innovation Council Director
    – Dr. Jennie Christensen, Founder & CEO TrichAnalytics

  • 10:00 am – 10:30 am Board Essentials Part 1

    Mary Garden Management Consultant | Regional Ambassador, Women Get on Board


  • 10:30 am – 10:45 am BREAK - Brought to you by RalMax Group



  • 10:45 am – 11:45 am Unlock the Power of Your Personal Board of Directors

    Sabina Nawaz, Vancouver | Global CEO Coach and Harvard Business Review contributor

  • 11:45 am – 12:30 am LUNCH - thanks to Boeing!


  • 12:30 pm – 1:15 pm Best Advice I Ever Ignored – leadership stories

    Moderator: Katherina Tarnai-Lokhorst, VP Engineers and Geoscientists BC, Mech Eng Instructor,Camosun College

    – Mischelle VanThiel CEO, Victoria Hospice
    – Abigail Fulton, Executive Director, BC Construction Foundation
    – Denise Williams, Executive Director, BC First Nations Technology Council
    – Erin Pinkerton, VP Business Development & Chief Transformation Officer, BC Transit
    – Sarah Hanel, President, Canadian Public Relations Society, Director of Global Public Relations, VASCO Data Security

  • 1:15 – 1:45 pm Board Essentials Part 2

    Larkin MacKenzie-Ast General Manager of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs (FWE) | BC Innovation Council Director



  • 2:00 – 2:30 pm Women don’t Guess – how business intelligence technology needs gender diversity

    Moderator: Paris Gaudet, Executive Director, Innovation Island

    – Veronica MacInnis, Analytics Manager, Boeing Vancouver
    – Katie McGoff, CTO, Big Bang Analytics
    – Deepali Arora, Founder | Chief Data Scientist, TravelMetrics

  • 2:30 pm – 2:45 pm BREAK - way to go Harbour Air!



  • 2:45 – 3:30 pm How to Solve the Funding Puzzle for Women in STEM

    Moderator:  Hong Yu, Industrial Technology Advisor, National Research Council, Government of Canada

    – Bobbi Leach CEO, FuturePay *sponsor
    – Jill Earthy, Chief Growth Officer, FrontFundr |Vice Chair, Women’s Enterprise Centre
    – Melanie Murray, Senior Account Manager, Commercial Financial Services, RBC Royal Bank

  • 3:30 – 4:00 pm Closing Keynote: What is a Champion?

2017 Conference Sponsors

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Keynote Speakers

Sabina Nawaz

Sabina Nawaz is a global CEO coach, leadership keynote speaker, and writer working in over 26 countries. She advises C-level executives in Fortune 500 corporations, government agencies, non-profits, and academic institutions. Sabina has spoken at hundreds of seminars, events, and conferences including TEDx. A few recent keynote clients include Microsoft, Limeade, the International Coaching Federation,…

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Deborah J Landers

Vice President, Cognitive Solutions at IBM Canada

Ms. Landers is the Vice President, Cognitive Solutions at IBM Canada. In this role, she a large cross-country team focused on working with our clients to find innovative new ways to grow and transform their businesses by leveraging IBM’s investments in Cognitive Computing (Watson) and Cloud as well as our legacy of excellence in Consulting…

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Guest Speakers

Veronica MacInnis

Manager, Analytics & Data Science, Boeing Vancouver

Analytics Manager with experience leading several data science, analytics and operations research projects within the aviation industry. Passionate about enabling analytics and data science professionals to reach their full potential by creating an engaging workplace that fosters continuous learning, challenging problem areas and a clear career path. Veronica is also passionate about Ideas Worth Spreading…

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Lesley Esford

Dr. Lesley Esford is the President of LifeSciences BC, a not-for-profit, industry association that supports and represents the Life Science community of British Columbia through leadership, facilitation of investment and partnering, advocacy, and promotion of our world-class science and industry. Lesley received her PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from UBC and has spent many years…

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Denise Williams

Denise is Coast Salish from Cowichan Tribes on Vancouver Island and is the Executive Director of First Nations Technology Council. She is an advocate for social justice and has spent her career seeking out opportunities to play a role in the advancement of Indigenous sovereignty. She is known for her early involvement and leadership in…

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Erinn Pinkerton

Vice President of Business Development and Chief Transformation Officer (CTO) for BC Transit

As Vice President of Business Development and Chief Transformation Officer (CTO) for BC Transit, Erinn leads Corporate Planning, Sales and Revenue, Marketing and Communications, Information Technology and Transit Planning and Scheduling. She is responsible for the overall development of the strategic plan and implementation of all corporate planning activities including strategic analysis, enterprise resource planning,…

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Katherina Tarnai-Lokhorst, P.Eng., BASc, MBA, DSocSci (c)

Kathy is an instructor of mechanical engineering at Camosun College and Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia.  She received her BASc from UBC in 1987 specializing in aerodynamics and her MBA from the University of Phoenix in 2007.  Kathy is pursuing her Doctor of Social Science at Royal Roads University, exploring the influence…

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Mischelle vanThiel , BA, MBA

CEO Victoria Hospice

Mischelle is a proven leader with over 25 years of experience building high performance interdisciplinary teams in media, healthcare, post-secondary education and professional associations. She has worked extensively in the areas of leadership, workforce planning, policy development, operations, finance, program and service design, and marketing. She has run small, budget-strapped start-ups and organizations with $100…

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Hong Yu

Industrial Technology Advisor, Industrial Research Assistance Program, National Research Council Canada / Government of Canada

Hong has an M.Sc. in Mechanical & Industrial Engineering from the University of Manitoba, specializing in Material Science and Metallurgy and a B.Sc. (Honours) in Material Science & Engineering from the University of Tongji, Shanghai, P.R. China.  Her experience spans a variety of manufacturing and technology industries including aerospace, biomedical equipment, farm machinery, HVAC systems,…

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Melanie Murray

Senior Account Manager, Commercial Financial Services, RBC | Royal Bank of Canada

Melanie Murray has been in the Financial Services Industry for 17 years, 13 of which have been directly involved in Commercial Banking.  She joined RBC Royal Bank in 2012 as a Senior Account Manager for Commercial Financial Services and manages a diversified portfolio of commercial clients attending to their lending and transactional needs.  Melanie graduated with a degree in International Trade and over the years, has…

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Christine Buerki

VP, Clinical Development, GenomeDx Biosciences Inc., Vancouver

Christine is passionate about developing people, leading inspired teams, and navigating the white waters of growth to scale organizations and products from startup to success. She has ten years of experience working with multi-disciplinary teams of clinical researchers, biostatisticians, and bioinformaticians, developing molecular tests that improve patient care. Her companies have released four medical tests….

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Bobbi Leach

CEO FuturePay and RevenueWire

Bobbi has over 25 years of experience, including a proven track record for developing ebusiness ventures. As CEO of RevenueWire, her focus is to build a global brand of ecommerce services that help businesses grow revenue online. Bobbi is also co-founder and CEO of e-payment business FuturePay, which provides online shoppers with instant credit. Prior…

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Paris Gaudet

Executive Director, Innovation Island Technology Association

Paris Gaudet is the Executive Director of Innovation Island, a regional technology organization that supports innovative technology entrepreneurs grow bigger, better, faster. As one of only two women in BC leading a tech organization, she understands the important of gender balance in the tech sector. A skilled community builder, Paris is a champion for diversity…

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Mary Garden

Mary Garden & Associates

With over 30 years of executive leadership and management experience in business, Mary’s career has included engagements with private entrepreneurial groups, multi-national corporations, advisory consulting firms and crown corporations in Canada and the USA. From 2008 – 2015, Mary led investment teams for the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (bcIMC), managing Canadian and international, multi-billion…

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Larkin MacKenzie-Ast

General Manager of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs (FWE)

Larkin MacKenzie-Ast is the General Manager of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs (FWE), a national not-for-profit organization that educates, energizes and empowers female entrepreneurs. Previously, she was the Director of HR, Corporate Services with Canadian Forest Products Inc. (Canfor), and before that she was the Manager of the Board Resourcing and Development Office in the Premier’s…

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Jill Earthy

Chief Growth Officer of FrontFundr

Jill Earthy is an entrepreneurially minded leader who believes diversity drives innovation. As Chief Growth Officer of FrontFundr, an online investment platform, she bridges the gap between entrepreneurs and investors by democratizing the capital markets. She has successfully built two companies nationally and sold them, and then spent 8 years in leadership roles in the…

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Brenda Irwin

Managing Partner of Relentless Pursuit Partners, Inc

Relentless is an investment and consultancy team dedicated to active, healthy living in a connected world.  Co-founded with 4x Olympian, Simon Whitfield, Relentless invests primarily in health and sports technology businesses. The Relentless partners are committed to the development of technologies, consumer products and services that enhance health and wellness while promoting an active lifestyle….

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Abigail Fulton B.A. LL.B.

Executive-Director, Construction Foundation of BC

Abigail Fulton is the Executive Director of the Construction Foundation of BC, a charity focused on supporting education and training in the trades, research and  good works.  Ms. Fulton is a strong supporter of the value of applied learning and the pursuit of industry training and apprenticeship.    A lawyer by profession, Ms Fulton previously served as…

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Robyn Quinn, APR, MA, Fellow CPRS

Founder & Former Chair

President Big Bang Communications and Co Founder Big Bang Analytics Inc. Robyn Quinn is the Chair of Island Women in Science and Technology. She is a passionate corporate communications and marketing professional with over 20 years experience in military, education,  technology, government, not-for-profit, association and infrastructure sectors. She loves to teach media relations, content strategy…

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