The Dr. Roberta Bondar STEM Career Development Program is an opportunity for women, nonbinary people, and gender diverse people working in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) to network with industry leaders and peers to get a behind-the-scenes look at the science and tech industries in Canada.
Support and lack of developing a professional network are often cited as barriers for women, nonbinary people, and gender diverse people entering and remaining in STEM careers. Participants of the Dr. Roberta Bondar Career Development Program benefit from developing strong relationships with like-minded participants and leaders working in traditionally male-dominated fields.
The program allows participants to expand their knowledge of public, private and academic sectors, gain new perspectives and have direct access to leaders in the public and private sectors.
What is it?
This is a career development program that aims to inspire participants to move forward in STEM fields, and to eventually transition into scientific and management leadership in the Canadian STEM domain.
For a year, a group of 20 participants from the public sector, the private sector, and academia participate in bi-monthly (twice a month) virtual sessions to expand their knowledge of public, private and academic sectors, and connect with leaders in government and private organizations. This program is co-created and participant driven to aim to ensure maximum effectiveness of participation.
Who Can apply?
This program is open to those who identify as women, nonbinary people and gender diverse people who have entered a STEM (Science Technology Engineering or Math) position for the first time in the last five years or re-entered after a recent period of absence upwards of three years. Those working in both the private and public sectors and academia are encouraged to apply as cross-sector collaboration and exchange increases the value of the program. We encourage applicants from the LGBTQ2+ and BIPOC communities to apply.
Unsure whether you qualify? Email info [at] wct-fct.com for more information.
Participants are expected to work collaboratively towards expanding networks and meeting program objectives. Successful participants will be expected to attend bi-monthly sessions, including panels, workshops and group discussions. The estimated time commitment for the program on a monthly basis is generally about six hours (two sessions of two hours in length, plus preparation and planning for the sessions). As this program is collaborative, session attendance impacts the experience of the cohort as a whole. Participants are expected to attend at least 80% of total sessions over the course of the year to facilitate a successful group experience.
Following completion of the program, participants must work together on a written debrief to be submitted to WCT. The written debrief is to be used to help future cohorts of the program establish their program and meetings.
Terms and Conditions
- This program is open to those who identify as women, nonbinary people and gender diverse people.
- You must be hired into your first STEM position within the last five years or have re-entered in a science and technology position after a period of absence upwards of three years.
- You must make individual arrangements and seek approval from your employer for salary, benefits and leave of absence, if required.
- If selected, you must participate in the current year's program and cannot defer your acceptance to another date.
- All participants must be a WCT member. If you are not already a member, you are encouraged to apply to the program without purchasing a membership. Successful participants will need to purchase a membership upon acceptance to the program. Reduced membership rates are available for participants.
The Dr. Roberta Bondar STEM Career Development Program is sponsored by:
- 2022-23 DR ROBERTA BONDAR STEM CAREER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS
Jacqueline Parco, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, Research and Development Scientist
Jacqueline Parco is a research and development scientist at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories. In this role, Jacqueline has been a part of and led technical teams to design, assemble and verify unique tooling for various nuclear applications. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and has been trusted with the development of several junior professionals early on in her career. She also has strong verbal communication skills which were recognize by her company when she won the 3 - Minutes to Impact Competition. Jacqueline chose to pursue a degree in Biomedical Mechanical Engineering as she is naturally curious and wanted to learn the mechanics of the world around her and wanted to spend her career in a sector that makes positive impact on society.
Lianna van der Zalm, SUEZ Water Technologies and Solutions, Project Engineering - Anaerobic Digestion
At SUEZ Lianna van der Zalm is a project engineer for the Anaerobic Digestion Team. Lianna develops large-scale facilities to convert organic wastes such as biosolids from municipal wastewater treatment facilities or food waste (or both) into a usable product. The process converts the waste products into biomethane that can be used as a natural gas substitute or biogas which can be used for heating and power. Another by-product is digestate which can be land-applied as a fertilizer substitute. As a project engineer, Lianna assists in the execution of these projects to bring them to life. Working on the development of anaerobic digestion facilities fits great with Lianna’s passion for environmentalism and love for a good challenge. Outside of work Lianna enjoys exploring the outdoors, going to concerts and caring for her extensive plant collection.
Megha Swargam, Fit4Less - Goodlife Fitness, Engagement Analyst
Megha Swargam (she/her) is a strategist, facilitator, and driven professional within the spatial analysis, ESG and sustainability domain. She graduated from McMaster University with an Honors Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science. Throughout her time at McMaster University, she spent time working on GIS projects for clients and within a lab for her professors. She has notably worked with Dr. Eduard Reinhardt with his research in San Salvador Island in the Bahamas and Prof. Patrick De Luca with his research in the badlands of Basilicata, Italy. In addition to her academic work, Megha spent time working with the Global Water Brigade as the Vice President for the McMaster Chapter. Megha graduated in June 2021 and is currently working as an Engagement Analyst at Fit4Less.
Bianca Rosiak, Bell Canada, Sr Manager, Advanced Analytics
Bianca works as a Business Intelligence Sr. Manager at Bell managing front-end and back-end developers and data analysts. Upon graduating from the University of Toronto with an Industrial Engineering degree, she secured a job as a Bell data analyst and was immediately fascinated by the abundant amount of data, BI tools, and leading-edge technology available to explore at Bell. Being passionate about user-centred design and film editing, she advanced into a product owner role overseeing the development of multiple internal mobile apps and creating hype videos to present new features and functionality to end users. Over the last year, promoted to Sr. Manager, she has been leading a team of 8 overseeing the development and maintenance of BI data visualizations which include mobile performance apps, reporting scorecards, and self-serve dashboards. She is a Grad Mentor and a member of the BI Gender Diversity taskforce at Bell. When she is not working, Bianca loves to travel, try new foods, and record & edit films based on her travels.
Ashley Lloyd, Kardium Inc., Project Manager - Application Development
Ashley Llyod is currently a Project Manager for Application Development at Kardium. Ashley leads a team of five software engineers who develop software for internal use within the company. Their projects range from custom integration tools with Kardium’s Manufacturing Execution System, requirements management reporting tools, and code generator tools. Ashley feels lucky to count visible and non-visible minorities among direct reports. Having open discussions with them about their initial view of engineering has led Ashley to realize that her story is not unique. Ashley volunteers at networking nights, such as the recent mentorship position Ashley held at SFU’s Women in Engineering Network Night. Outside of work, Ashley has a passion for the outdoors, mountain trail running, mountain biking or rock climbing with friends and family.
Alina Zhao, Bell Canada, Senior Manager, Business Intelligence - Campaign Analytics
Alina Zhao graduated from Smith School of Business with a BComm in 2018 because of a love for art and thought about using that love to design advertisements. As Alina went through the beginning of schooling, that interest shifted to a potential career in marketing strategy. In her current role as a Senior Manager in BI for Campaign Analytics, Alina supports 7 analysts in order to answer the marketing teams’ biggest questions when it comes to communications to Bell’s customers. She loves a good challenge, and when she stepped into this role in September of 2021, she that it would be a big one. In her personal time, Alina is an avid reader, appreciates fine art and enjoys attending the ballet, galleries or museums.
Alessandra Carino, Bell Canada, Senior Manager, Data Science Program Management
Alessandra Carino is a Senior Manager, Data Science Program Management at Bell. Alessandra leads a team of 6 talented individuals to create and lead the take-to-market strategy and usability of AI ML Products within the Customer Operations Department. Alessandra has been with Bell for 4 years and started as a Data Analyst working on creating internal reporting. As Alessandra has progressed through different roles within Bell over the last 4 years Alessandra has always tried to focus on collaboration, explain-ability and bringing technology to the forefront of decision making. Alessandra has also worked within the public sector at the Ministry of Education in their IT department. Outside of work Alessandra has participated in a Women in STEM mentorship program mentoring girls in elementary / high school who have an interest in STEM related subjects. Alessandra enjoys spending time with friends and family, including walks and training sessions with her dog Cooper.
Sara van Tol, Microsoft, Azure Applications and Infrastructure Specialist
Sara van Tol is an Azure Applications and Infrastructure Specialist at Microsoft supporting both public sector and commercial organizations across Canada. Her work focuses around educating and supporting organizations to build and scale their cloud environments, accelerating the velocity of digital transformation. She attended three universities for her undergraduate degree; first two years at Carleton University studying Information Systems, a semester abroad at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, and graduated in 2020 from Queen’s University’s Smith School of Business with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. In her spare time, you can find Sara backcountry camping in Provincial & National Parks across Canada, playing ultimate frisbee & soccer, and getting competitive over a game of Settler’s of Catan.
Zoya Mushtaq, Canada Revenue Agency, Programming Analyst
Zoya is a Programming Analyst at the Canada Revenue Agency where she contributes the agency’s digital services and initiatives, and founder of ‘Engineering In Pink’, an online community that provides connection and inspiration for women engineers. She received her Bachelor of Computer Systems Engineering degree from Carleton University. During her undergraduate degree, she served as a mentor to first and second-year students and was appointed as the Social Media Executive of Carleton’s Women in Science and Engineering Society; she also spent her summers working as an engineering student in different departments in the public sector. She is a lifelong learner who enjoys mentoring and instilling STEM curiosity in young minds and hopes to one day write a STEM based children book.
Adwoa Adu, Shared Services Canada, Security Coordinator/Support Analyst
Adwoa is passionate about all things that intersect career and culture. Adwoa’s specific interests are woven into an interplay of technology and the human element of building sustainable businesses. Adwoa ‘s professional background is in Cybersecurity, International Relations, and Education. Adwoa was with Transport Canada as a Cloud Admin, and Co-Lead the Women in Digital transformation group. Adwoa worked as an Agile Delivery Lead with the Digital Services Directorate. Currently, Adwoa works with Shared Services Canada as a Security Coordinator/Support Analyst. Outside of work, you can find Adwoa getting into all types of shenanigans, from playing basketball to photography to live band jamming! Adwoa has an indestructible bubble of optimism and is committed to dreaming big and supporting actions that advocate and build leadership for women and girls in STEM.
Julia Grabowska, ISED, Team Lead Digital Adoption
Julia Grabowska is currently a Team Lead of Digital Adoption within the Chief Information Office at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED). Her role involves ensuring that the users in her department have the digital tools they need to accomplish their work and optimize their time. She is passionate about empowering people with the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to adopt the digital tools available. For her work in digital adoption, Julia received the Sector Head Merit Award in 2020. Aside from work, Julia is passionate about traveling internationally and learning languages. Julia took part in a high school exchange program to Costa Rica where she learned Spanish. She also speaks Polish and is actively studying French. Julia also enjoys yoga, painting, and spending time outdoors.
Sarah MacDonald, Athabasca Watershed Council, Science Coordinator
Sarah MacDonald works as a Watershed Science Coordinator with the Athabasca Watershed Council (AWC). The AWC works with various stakeholders in the Athabasca Watershed on watershed related issues. At the AWC, Sarah works on two major projects, the Athabasca Watershed Shorelines Initiative and the Upper Athabasca Watershed Biomonitoring Project. AWC builds positive relationships with stakeholders in the Athabasca Watershed, Pembina River Watershed, and throughout the province. Initiating a technical advisory committee for the Pembina River watershed to share information, resources, and develop a state of the watershed report opened Sarah’s eyes to the benefits of bringing stakeholders together to collaborate on common interests. Sarah’s personal hobbies include traveling Canada, walking with her puppy by any water body, and reading with a cup of coffee.
Amelie Trinh, CBSA, Analyst
Amelie Trinh graduated with a Bachelor of Administration and specialization in Business Technology. During her undergraduate degree, Amelie has been working for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), specifically within the Information Science and Technology Branch (ISTB) where she performs significant system testing, IT related services, led and contributed to several IT projects and initiatives as well as mentors junior officers and students. While continuing her education further by applying to a Master of Science in Information System, she is looking to have an impact in the public sector while applying her knowledge and passion for business analysis in a more meaningful way.
Grace Liu, DCSB/SSC, Support Analyst
Grace Liu is a Support Analyst with Data Centre Services at SSC. She has a strong background in both Business and Technology. She obtained her Honours of Bachelor Degree in Finance and E-Business from University of Ottawa. She was always fascinated with data and everything we do are a source of collecting data, she wonders where data going and how was it used. She Pursued a Graduate degree in Business Intelligence and Infrastructure System, where it led her to a Data Analyst for many years and now more towards technical side.
Michelle Franks Fortin, SSC, Technical Advisor/ Networks Security
Michelle Franks Fortin is a self-declared non status proud indigenous Mohawk woman who has been with the public service for 20 years and with SSC since it began in 2011. As an IT -03 Technical Advisor she provides program leadership for IT Professionals Development Program and is an active working group member for ESDC’s IT Development Apprenticeship Program. In addition, is SSC Appointed lead responsible for conducting weekly check in sessions with IT Indigenous Apprentices after they onboard as IT Apprentice. Michelle is also one of the SSC’s new KCII (Knowledge Circle for Indigenous Inclusion) Indigenous Career Navigators to support Indigenous employees within SSC. Michelle is hoping Subsection 6.2 of the Indian Act ‘double mother’ clause has been rectified with Bill S-3 so she can be recognized and seen by the Government of Canada as full status indigenous woman in STEM.
Raheleh Ghassem Zadeh, McGill University, Graduate Researcher
Raheleh completed her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Food Science and Technology from the Isfahan University of Technology and the Shiraz University in Iran. Then she joined the Ferdowsi University and working as a research assistant and full-time lecturer at the Azad University. In 2014, she joined the McGill University to pursue a Master’s degree in Food Safety, followed by joining Dr. Varoujan Yaylayan’s lab to continue her Ph.D. focusing on the Thermal generation of carbonyl scavenging agents from amino acids.
Sarah Brown, Carleton University, Mechanical Engineer/Sustainable Energy/CU/PHD Candidate
Sarah is a PhD Candidate in the Sustainable Buildings Energy Systems (SBES) group at Carleton University. She completed her undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at Carleton in 2017 and accelerated from an MASc to a PhD in 2019. The SBES group researches novel mechanical systems that allow space heating and domestic hot water (DHW) heating demands in Canadian homes to be met with solar energy. In particular, Sarah researches a system called PiSCES (the Passive Solar Collection Energy System) which focuses on using passive solar gains to meet residential heating demands. In addition to her academic research experience, Sarah has been a contract instructor at Carleton and has experience with engineering companies in the private sector from co-op terms during her undergrad.