Film-maker, actress and mental health advocate Shreya Patel; board member of Ontario Health and Ontario Power Generation Anju Virmani; founder & CEO of social enterprise STEM Minds Corp Anu Bindai; CEO and founder of smart wheelchairs startup-up Braze Mobility Inc Dr Pooja Viswanathan; academician and provost vice -president academic of University of British Columbia Okanagan Dr Ananya Mukherjee Reed; vice president consumer health, TELUS Health Juggy Sihota; founder and president, Articulate Youth Activisim initiative Bhanvi Sachdeva; COO of Surrey Hospitals Foundation Azra Hussain; and Plan International Canada supervisor Lavanya Hariharan are all among an elite group of Canada’s most powerful women. These women of Indian-origin are all on a list of Canada’s Most Power Women: Top 100 Award Winners for 2021.
The list, released last month by Women’s Executive Network, recognizes 105 outstanding women across Canada who advocate for workforce diversity and inspire tomorrow’s leaders. “When I look at this year’s winners, I see a group of radically authentic women who remind us all of what it means to stand up with courage, for themselves and those around them,” said Sherri Stevens, owner, and CEO of WXN. “By recognizing and celebrating the strength, fearlessness, resilience, and heart these women demonstrate, we can inspire more of the same in generations to come.” The awards, present in 13 categories, span the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.
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Braze Mobility had the opportunity to get important feedback on its terrain analysis system as part of the recent Breaking Boundaries: Collaboration Challenge, hosted by the Veterans Health Administration Ecosystem and Founder Institute, says CEO Pooja Viswanathan.
The system will help wheelchair users navigate outdoor environments more safely and independently, using proprietary machine-learning algorithms that identify hazards.
“It’s a co-creation process, so there’ll be various phases of development that we’ll collaborate with them on,” said Viswanathan, who was a featured speaker at the VHA Innovation Experience Oct. 27-28, and who has completed doctoral and post-doc research in robotics and assistive technologies. “There will be early testing of the product and feedback, and then incorporating that feedback into future development.”Read More
Dr. Pooja Viswanathan is used to being the only woman in the room. She studied computer science, artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Toronto, University of Waterloo and UBC.
“I think I was probably the only woman getting a PhD in robotics at UBC at the time,” Dr. Viswanathan recalls.
When she transformed the learnings from her PhD dissertation – navigation assistance and sensor technologies for power wheelchair users – into a startup called Braze Mobility Inc., Dr. Viswanathan says the all-male, mostly all-white boardrooms she encountered as she met with potential funders and business partners were no surprise. “If I went into a room that had a lot of women, that would be an anomaly for me,” she says.
Dr. Viswanathan says that she stood out at nearly every conference and industry expo she attended. “I could probably go as far as saying I’m the only female CEO, let alone female CEO of colour in the [complex rehab technology] manufacturing industry,” she says.Read More