Women in IT Awards: winner roundup

The Women in IT Summit and Awards wrapped up Tuesday night in Toronto with the presentation of awards recognizing and celebrating women, allies, and businesses across the country, highlighting their contributions to the technology industry.

Check out the winners:

Advocate of the Year – 

This year’s advocate of the year award went to Frincy Clement. Clement currently works in the Business Intelligence team at TELUS Business Solutions. She has held various technical and strategic roles in machine learning and has experience working with startups and enterprises. Additionally, Clement gives back to the community through her participation in  Women in AI as the Ambassador for Canada, leading the initiatives of the Canadian team. 

Ally of the Year – 

The Ally of the Year award went to Annayah Jean Fernandez Rivera, recognizing her for all the work she’s done to advance LGBTQ2+ globally for her organization and clients. 

Fernandez Rivera is trailblazing trans representation in tech leadership. She has spent the past decade as a director and technology sales lead at Accenture. An article in the Globe and Mail from April of this year, details her journey in the tech industry, while also describing how she recently came out as a trans woman.

In the article she noted that she can see a shift happening in herself and in the company. Accenture now puts pronouns in the profiles of all its employees. Fernandez Rivera is also working with the company on offering trans-inclusive benefits, even in countries that restrict trans rights from a legal perspective. 

Chief Information Technology Officer of the Year – 

Claire Lam is the winner of the CITO of the year award. She is the CITO and co-founder of the company Loopt, a platform that lets brands run their own, fully branded, rental subscription service for retail. 

The Loopt team are recent graduates of the Google Cloud Accelerator and also a part of the Forbes Business Council.

Additionally Lam serves the community through charitable work and is a mentor to women in the IM/IT field.

Data Leader of the Year – 

Ferial Sheybani has won the award for Data Leader of the Year. Sheybani is the vice president and head of technology and data at Colliers International. Colliers is a Canada-based professional services and investment management company.

She has more than 20 years of experience in IT and Digital Transformation.

Sheybani is a certified personal development coach with Star’s Edge International, as well as a career coach with Women in IT Canada and the Yara Association.

DEI Initiative of the Year – 

This award goes to a project or initiative that has had demonstrable success in improving the recruitment, onboarding, development and progression of underrepresented talent. 

Salesforce and auticons’s Neurodiverse Professional Services Partnership won this award. This initiative has helped build many positive professional relationships through their partnership program, which helps place autistic consultants into different projects and roles.

Digital Transformation Leader of the Year – 

The Digital Transformation Leader of the Year award went to Elaine Oei, VP of digital products and engineering at Cineplex

She’s building a high-performing digital team across product, design and technology, delivering good customer experiences for web, mobile and TV apps across the Cineplex ecosystem, including Theatrical Entertainment, The Rec Room, Playdium, and the Cineplex Store movie streaming service. 

Oei has leveraged technology solutions to transform a business model during the pandemic to one that allowed Cineplex to survive.

Diversity Lead of the Year – 

Sophia Dhrolia, director of Diversity and Inclusion and Employee Experience at the Toronto Region Board of Trade, won the Diversity Lead of the Year award. This award is open to the VP of Diversity, chief diversity officer, Heads and Directors of Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion in the tech industry. 

Dhrolia is also a general member of Fast and Female, a Canadian charity which aims to keep self-identified girls aged 8-14 healthy and active in sports.

She is also focused on breaking down systemic barriers, and driving positive change in organizations.

Employer of the Year – 

Greenlight Consulting was awarded Employer of the Year, presented to a company that has demonstrated a strategy to drive diversity in the industry while also recruiting from immigrant communities. 

Founded in 2008, Greenlight Consulting is a Canadian privately-owned IT services organization, specializing in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Consulting and Technology Staffing.

The company focuses on providing both technology and the human touch to every candidate and new employee experience. 

Entrepreneur of the Year – 

This award went to Cindy Gordon, chief executive officer and founder of SalesChoice

She is also a board advisor of the Forbes School of Business and Technology, and the AI Forum. Gordon is interested in modernizing innovation with disruptive technologies such as SaaS/Cloud, Smart Apps, AI, IoT, Robots and Cobots. 

Gordon is known as a trailblazer and change champion for diversity and inclusiveness. She has mentored hundreds of women and helped them advance their careers in STEM and analytics. 

Innovator of the Year – 

Dr. Chandana Unnithan, chief scientific officer of Lifeguard Digital Health, received the Innovator of the Year award, which highlights a female tech professional who has demonstrated outstanding innovation, customer wins and deployments over the past two years.

Unnithan is an expert scientist in digital health (integrating AI, IoT, Blockchain in health, Geo-spatial apps, precision public health) and has a PhD in Digital Health & Informatics.

IT Team of the Year, led by a woman – 

This award goes to an IT team, led by a woman, that has delivered real value and results to the company. Melissa Carvalho, vice president of GCS Planning Office and Customer and Enterprise Identity and Access Management, received the award for her work at RBC.

At RBC Carvalho leads a team of over 200 security professionals providing cyber solutions and services for the bank’s 80,000 employees and 16 million clients globally. 

She is also a Canadian Ambassador for Women in Identity, a non-profit organization working to support a more diverse workforce in the identity space.

Next Generation Leader of the Year – 

Alexandra Sunderland received the Next Generation Leader of the Year award. This award highlights a woman under the age of 30 who has progressed rapidly through their career and demonstrated business value and innovation through the use of technology.

Sunderland is the senior engineering manager at Fellow.app, an app for managers and their teams to power 1-on-1s, group conversations, feedback, and priorities.

Outstanding Contribution of the Year – 

Jenny Alfandary, president and chief executive officer of Westario Power Inc, was awarded the Outstanding Contribution of the Year award, which recognizes achievements over a long period of time that have made an important contribution to the general standing of the technology industry.

Alfandary has extensive experience in cyber security, artificial intelligence, data analytics, big data, cloud, DevOps, and digital transformation.

Sustainable Tech Award of the Year – 

This award highlights a company that uses technology to improve the lives of others and the world around us. It recognizes corporate social responsibility, charity work, or green and sustainability initiatives that are driven or implemented using digital techniques.

This year’s award went to Tas Damen, co-founder and chief innovation officer of Connected Canadians, a federally incorporated non-profit organization that connects older adults with free technology training and support.

Damen has 15 years of software development experience working with teams to create solutions in eCommerce, finance, and process management spaces.

Woman of the Year – 

Claudette McGowan won this year’s Woman of the Year award, which goes to a woman who has demonstrated the highest degree of IT excellence, innovation and leadership over the last two years.

McGowan was the global executive officer of TD Bank, and is now CEO of Protexxa, a B2B SaaS cybersecurity platform that leverages artificial intelligence to rapidly identify, evaluate, predict, and resolve cyber issues for employees. She has had more than 18 years of experience leading digital transformations and designing new approaches that improve service experiences.

She is also chair of an anti-racism initiative, the MaRS’ Coalition of Innovation Leaders Against Racism (CILAR).

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Samira Balsara
Samira Balsara
Samira is a writer for IT World Canada. She is currently pursuing a journalism degree at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly known as Ryerson) and hopes to become a news anchor or write journalistic profiles. You can email her at [email protected]

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