Welcome to the September edition of Profound Connections. As autumn arrives in our part of the world and summer draws to a close, many of us are gearing up for a time of significant change. For some, it’s back to school — others, a career shift. Whatever this season looks like for you, I wish you continued learning, growth and success.
September is special for us at Profound Impact™ as we celebrate the second annual Profound Impact Day on September 14.
On September 14, 2020, the inaugural Profound Impact Day was celebrated to recognize the global impact of the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo and its role as an international centre of research and development in cybersecurity. Presented by Profound Impact™, the Day was inspired by the late Professor Scott A. Vanstone and the impact that his mentorship and guidance continue to have in the world of mathematics and across various fields.
Reflecting on this Day over the last year, the impact and scale at which we could tell these stories of collective impact and legacy was realized. We set out to develop a community that provides the opportunity for connection and collaboration that all current and future leaders need to meet their potential. We spotlighted those who are contributing to the greater good through their stories of impact. We celebrated the extraordinary accomplishments of those making a difference, right here in Waterloo Region and beyond.
This month’s Impact Story shines light on Dr. Feridun Hamdullahpur, former President & Vice Chancellor (2010-2021) and Professor of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, University of Waterloo, engineer, educator and leader. We are thrilled to also welcome Feridun to join us this Profound Impact Day for a fireside chat to discuss his involvement with the United Nations’ HeForShe initiative as a 10x10x10 Impact Champion.
I’d like to extend a warm invitation to you and hope you will join us for this special event on September 14. Registration details and more information can be found below.
Thank you for your continuous engagement and support.
Former President & Vice Chancellor and Professor of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, University of Waterloo
Career summary and major highlights
A self-proclaimed lifelong learner, Dr. Feridun Hamdullahpur has been a powerful force in building the University of Waterloo’s reputation as a leader in innovation and academic excellence. Striving for better his entire career, Feridun made significant contributions to education through his role as the University of Waterloo’s sixth President and Vice-Chancellor. Although his leadership trajectory took him from professorship into administration, he remains an active researcher and engaged professor. An advocate of research, connection and innovation, his drive to maximize the impact of higher education on society built a community working together to do better and change the world.
As a young professor busy with research, an early influential interaction with his department chair at TUNS (then the Technical University of Nova Scotia now Dalhousie University) would begin to shape his future. In a conversation with Les, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Feridun spoke of his dissatisfaction with how the graduate applications were being handled. Les told him there are two types of people in this world: those who complain and leave the work up to others and those who get things done, and asked him, “Which one are you?” Feridun accepted the challenge to get things done and moved into an administrative assignment to improve the program and set the course of his entire career. From this first position to Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and later Dean, Feridun became an influential administrator who constantly recognized opportunities to solve problems and make a difference in higher education.
Viewing mentorship as incredibly important to inspiration, learning and growth, Feridun attributes being able to make the kind of difference he is proud of to working with wonderful people over the course of his career. An early mentor in Turkey taught him to understand the nature of research, and more importantly, the importance of failure and perseverance. Later, after Feridun came to Canada, he and Dr. David McKay would discuss finding meaning in their work. McKay also encouraged Feridun to share learning experiences with his own students, leading him on the path of constant learning.
After a question at a University of Waterloo town hall brought the concerningly low number of female faculty to the forefront, Feridun was inspired to take action on gender inequality. Recognizing the human-made obstacles that stood in the way of gender equity, Feridun resolved to use his position to create an environment that takes action for a more equitable future while remaining committed to the highest degree of academic excellence. This led to his involvement in the United Nations’ HeForShe initiative, a program that seemed tailor-made to help set attainable targets that would shift attitudes and improve accessibility for female scholars. This initiative increased participation from female students and reached a higher number of female faculty members well before target deadlines, maintaining high standards for education while making space for female voices.
Feridun Hamdullahpur speaks at the United Nations HeForShe IMPACT Summit in September 2018.
Despite not being in a classroom for over 20 years, Feridun never stopped being a professor. Reflecting on his own experience, he does not see a future where he is not involved in teaching in some way. He kept up with research, graduate supervision and publishing while remaining committed to improving the student experience, doing as much as possible outside the classroom to enrich and expand their horizons. With continued involvement with the United Nations’ HeForShe initiative as a 10x10x10 Impact Champion and on several university boards and committees in an advisory capacity, Feridun remains involved in shaping the future of education.
After 11 years, Feridun stepped down from the Office of the President, leaving a legacy of lasting change. Four of the six deans at the institution are women and during his tenure Feridun hired four women Vice Presidents and one University Secretary all of whom reported to him, a direct result of building a place of respect that made it accessible for the right people to come forward. There is still room to grow, but Feridun is confident the growth will be organic and a foundation for the exciting changes yet to come.
Feridun has a long history of entrepreneurial and academic success. You can view some of his most significant accomplishments outlined in the images below.
Here’s a link to a live graph on the Profound Impact platform showing Dr. Hamdullahpur’s academic ancestry.
Do you have an impact story to share? Reach out to us at email@example.com for a chance to have your story featured in an upcoming newsletter!
As summer continues, our team at Profound Impact™ is taking some time to reflect on the success of the recent months and highlight future projects we are looking forward to sharing with you.
I’d like to thank all of you for your continued engagement with our webinar series — Profound Insights. As we are not hosting a webinar this month in preparation for our upcoming annual Profound Impact Day celebration in September, we have included recaps and links to each of our previous webinars in case you were not able to attend. We look forward to continuing our webinar series in the following months and facilitating new discussions with highly regarded panelists.
This month’s Impact Story shines a light on James Wesley (Wes) Graham (1932-1999), professor, innovator, entrepreneur — otherwise known as the “Father of computing” at the University of Waterloo as the first director of the University’s computing centre. Throughout Wes’ esteemed career, he was accredited for providing the leadership in software development for education that has given Canada and the University of Waterloo an international reputation in this important field. Helping to cement Waterloo as a leader in computer science education and research and a dynamic software development hub, Wes’ contributions have resulted in significant positive economic and employment impact for the Region. His tenacity and ambition left a lasting impact on the countless students and colleagues he engaged with during his career. We hope you enjoy the unique academic ancestry and impact visualizations we have included in this newsletter showcasing the far reach of Wes’ impact.
As we continue to transition into various re-opening stages, we encourage you to continue to learn more about how online virtual events and platforms like Profound Impact can elevate your organization’s engagement and the strong relationships it can build now and into the future.
Check out our free self-assessment tool to learn more about Profound Impact’s digital engagement communities and how the Profound Impact platform can ensure a safe and secure platform for your entire organization and attendees while aligning with your organization’s strategic objectives.
Thank you for your continued engagement and support.
“Father of Computing” at the University of Waterloo
With exceptional leadership in the field of computer science and his dedication to making computers accessible to a wider audience, James Wesley (Wes) Graham (1932-1999) was known as the “Father of Computing” at the University of Waterloo. Serving as early director of the University of Waterloo’s Computing Centre, Wes had an active role in shaping computer science education worldwide. His experience teaching at the University inspired the creation of software to support education, particularly in programming and access to computers. Many of the software systems that would further enhance Waterloo’s international reputation were created under his leadership.
After starting his career as a systems engineer at IBM Canada, Wes joined the University of Waterloo in 1959 to teach statistics, where he quickly became one of the first professors offering courses in computer science. The move into this field brought exciting change and challenges for the University, leading to significant impact on Canadian and international computer science education and software development practices. Wes and other early professors were instrumental in establishing the department of computer science and in realizing the importance of computers to a wide range of applications providing opportunities for future generations.
Wes thoroughly enjoyed teaching and mentoring students and recent graduates throughout his career. Receiving the Distinguished Teacher Award from the University of Waterloo in 1978 was one of his proudest accomplishments. His professorship at the University and engagement with this burgeoning field of computer science allowed him to provide leadership and momentum in the growth of this new area that would establish a direction for others. Believing that computers should be available to the widest audience possible, Wes orchestrated the University of Waterloo’s investment in an IBM 360/75 computer in the mid 1960s, the most powerful computer in Canada at the time. He was influential in the development of the computer studies programs, along with hardware and software, for both university and high school students.
Wes was a champion of ‘ease of use’ for computers, long before ‘ease of use’ became central to the software industry. Recognizing that the available software was not designed for teaching purposes, Wes led a team in building a solution to facilitate learning. With four students and a junior faculty member, WATFOR (Waterloo Fortran Compiler) was built to solve speed of processing and obscure error reporting. Attracting worldwide attention, this compiler was eventually used in thousands of colleges and universities around the world as well as businesses and governments and led to the development of many other educational software systems at Waterloo.
With the intent of influencing software so that it could be better applied in education, Wes would often use the software to build his own programming examples for instructional books, providing candid feedback to the developers about his experience. If he felt software was confusing or had inappropriate error messages, he insisted it be improved. His determination was instrumental in the transformation of computing to make it accessible to more people. His approach and influence in the early WATFOR project helped make early Waterloo compilers successful—not just because of speed and efficiency, but because they were easier to use.
Wes’ hands-on approach to teaching was a reflection of his desire to provide leadership and guidance to others while exploring the many possible uses of computers. Many of the expectations Wes had for software and computing can be recognized in today’s systems and in the ongoing work of those who he mentored. In recognition of his many accomplishments Wes Graham was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1999.
Click on the image below to go to the Profound Impact™ academic ancestry graph connecting Wes Graham all the way back to Friedrich Leibniz!
Wes Graham had a long, impactful career as a professor, innovator and entrepreneur. You can view some of his most significant accomplishments listed in the image below.
Welcome to June, a month to celebrate a new season and warm weather. As we look forward to what this month has to offer, it is imperative to recognize June’s significance as National Indigenous History Month and the #215children. In light of recent events, the Profound Impact™ team wishes to emphasize its support for the Indigenous community and its efforts to continue to positively support and share resources through our various platforms.
Thank you to those who attended our most recent Profound Insights webinar titled, “The Future of Work: Lifelong Learning & Networking with Digital Communities.” The webinar, moderated by Rob Darling, was a great success and facilitated engaging conversations with our esteemed panelists from the Waterloo Region including Simon Chan, Vice President of Talent, Academy & Future of Work at Communitech, Dr. Judene Pretti, Director of the Work-Learn Institute at the University of Waterloo, and Caitlin MacGregor, CEO and Co-Founder of Plum to discuss lifelong learning, professional development and talent resilience.
This month’s Impact Profile will shine light on Don Cowan, Distinguished Professor Emeritus from University of Waterloo. Don’s rich and expansive career history in mathematics is attributed to his emphasis on mentorship and connections in academic ancestry, especially his connection to Sir Isaac Newton. We hope you enjoy the unique academic ancestry and entrepreneurism visualizations we have included in this newsletter. In each of our newsletter, we look forward to highlighting exceptional impactful individuals and welcome your suggestions on who to feature.
As the province-wide lock-down comes to an end, we encourage you to continue to learn more about how online virtual events and platforms like Profound Impact can elevate your organization’s engagement and the strong relationships it can build now and continue when we are able once again to engage in person.
Learn more about Profound Impact’s digital engagement communities and how the Profound Impact platform can ensure a safe and secure platform for your entire organization and attendees and align with your organization’s strategic objectives by completing our free self-assessment tool.
Thank you for your continuous engagement and support.
Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Waterloo
With a rich and expansive career in mathematics and computer science, Dr. Don Cowan can be regarded as one of the earliest pioneers of computer science at the University of Waterloo. From experiencing the formative years of the University of Waterloo to participating in one of the earliest iterations of Silicon Valley, he has always had direct involvement in exciting advances in mathematics and computing. He was also an early entrepreneur and active participant in WATCOM and LivePage, two successful University of Waterloo spinoff companies that developed out of the exciting advances occurring in the field.
After starting his career teaching in the 1960s, Don began working on computers in a significant way and saw both the University of Waterloo campus and his field grow. Appointed as Founding Chair of the computer science department at a relatively young age, he faced the challenge of finding the people to work in a field that was still in its own youth. At the time, so few people worked in computer science in industry and academia, it was difficult to attract them to the University of Waterloo campus. However, with his passion and expertise and much help from his colleagues, the department grew from 3 to 35 members in five years and soon ranked as one of the top in the world.
As part of the team that developed and distributed software and hardware that supported computer science education, Don helped put the University of Waterloo on the map. These early projects contributed to many of the ideas behind the software systems that support computer-based learning for the students of today. In the 1960s, he ran computer science days, an event that annually brought thousands of high school students to the University of Waterloo and exposed them to computers and programming with a view that these young minds might embrace this exciting technology of the future. Continuing his work at the University of Waterloo, Don was principal investigator on major research projects and supervisor of graduate students. He also presided as chair of the board of five different corporations, including startups and not-for-profit organizations.
Mentorship played a major role in the trajectory of Don’s career, and Don is a vocal advocate for sharing knowledge and experience in these relationships. He recognizes his life has been significantly influenced by his many mentors, including his parents, his uncle Donald, Ralph Stanton and Wes Graham. Over his own tenure, Don has also supervised over 120 graduate students. Don feels privileged to have mentored these young people and see them continue to push boundaries and make the impossible possible.
Despite retiring 26 years ago, Don is still quite active in research and is excited to see what the future holds for the next generation. Programming may no longer be part of his day-to-day life, but he continues to work with several companies developing new and emerging technologies that push the boundaries of what’s possible. Don collaborates with exceptional minds that work together to provide software that augments community efforts by using artificial intelligence and mobile devices to learn about and present data at the municipal level. He remains an active researcher in computer science — staying right in the middle of progress.
Looking back at his career, there isn’t much that Don would change. Exciting things happened because people worked together, and Don will continue to look for these connections in his ongoing research and partnerships.
Click on the image below to go to the Profound Impact academic ancestry graph connecting Don Cowan all the way back to Issac Newton!
Dr. Cowan has a long history of entrepreneurial success. You can see some of the companies he has founded or been associated with listed in the image below. A Profound Impact indeed!
Welcome to May. As we look forward to what May has to offer, it is important to acknowledge it is the official month of Mental Health Awareness. This month, along with every other, we should take time for ourselves and pay attention to both our physical and mental well-being.
This month we will be hosting a new episode of our Profound Insights webinar series titled, “The Future of Work: Lifelong Learning & Networking with Digital Communities.” The webinar, moderated by Rob Darling, will take place on Wednesday, May 26th at 12:00pm EST. Rob will be connecting on the Profound Impact platform with esteemed panelists from the Waterloo Region including Simon Chan, Vice President of Talent, Academy & Future of Work at Communitech, Dr. Judene Pretti, Director of the Work-Learn Institute at the University of Waterloo, and Caitlin MacGregor, CEO and Co-Founder of Plum to discuss lifelong learning, professional development and talent resilience.
On May 4th, I was honoured to be the recipient of the “K-W Oktoberfest Rogers Women of the Year – STEAM Award”. With a lifelong passion for STEAM, it is a privilege to be recognized by members of the Waterloo Region community for my efforts for women of all ages.
Award programs such as this one recognize incredible women in our community. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!
As the province-wide lock-down continues, we encourage you to learn more about how online virtual events and platforms like Profound Impact can help elevate your organization’s engagement during these times. Learn more about Profound Impact’s digital engagement communities and how the Profound Impact platform can ensure a safe and secure platform for your entire organization and attendees with our free self-assessment tool.
Thank you for your continuous engagement and support!
Director, Work-Learn Institute, University of Waterloo
Dr. Judene Pretti began her career at the University of Waterloo 25 years ago as a co-op student in the Faculty of Mathematics and has worked there ever since. During this time, she spent nine years working in Computer Science within the Math faculty, in addition to five years establishing the WatPD program — a program of online professional development courses for co-op students. In the last 10 years, she has served as the Director of the Work-Learn Institute, formerly known as the Waterloo Centre for the Advancement of Co-operative Education.
Her career aspiration from a young age was to become a teacher. Judene originally attended the University of Waterloo for the Math Teaching option program because it offered the opportunity to complete co-op work terms in an educational setting during the completion of a degree. During her final work term, Judene supported associate professor Arnie Dyck in teaching a new first year computer science course, which resparked her desire to teach and eventually pursue a role teaching in Computer Science at the university after graduation, rather than going into the secondary system.
While her current role as the director of the Work-Learn Institute is not directly related to her initial plans to become a mathematics or computer science teacher, Judene explains that she’s been given opportunities to learn and grow and identify her strengths and weaknesses. Her two main motivations are her desire to help people develop and her passion for identifying and solving interesting and important problems. Judene’s long-term goal is to keep learning and growing and hopefully inspiring others to do the same.
With an impressive repertoire of accomplishments, Judene’s experiences have ranged from a number of exciting projects over her career to focusing on the Future of Work to examine predictive trends and to consider the implications for preparation of students. That work led Judene to the development of the Future Ready Talent Framework, a competency tool that is used at the University of Waterloo within the Co-op and Experiential Education portfolio at Waterloo to help students think about how they are developing the skills and competencies that will be important in their careers.
Additional accomplishments include, but are not limited to, Judene’s work with Communitech as part of their Future of Work consortium, her contributions to the growth of the WxL institute, receiving the CEIA Tyler award for a research collaboration with WIL researchers in Australia and New Zealand, winning the CEWIL Canada Branton award to recognize co-op/WIL researcher, and undertaking both her Master’s degree and PhD while working full-time. While simultaneously juggling her career, education, and three children, Judene’s perseverance is commendable and represents the tremendous impact and capabilities she has brought to the Waterloo Region community.
While always finding a challenge and purpose in the work that she does, Judene continues to build connections with others and seizes every opportunity to make significant and meaningful contributions to the Waterloo Region community every day. The cumulative impact throughout Judene’s career includes more than 100 co-op students she’s personally supervised, and for years to come she will continue to mentor and share her knowledge with the next generation.
Spring is in full bloom and the team at Profound Impact is looking forward to everything this season has to offer.
In honour of Earth Day on April 22nd, a movement in the making since 1970, the Profound Impact team has accepted the challenge to spend at least one hour doing something to help the planet. This includes activities such as taking a walk (alone or with your family) to pick up litter in your neighbourhood, planting your garden using pollinator-friendly plants, taking care of your indoor plants by giving them some extra water or sunshine, or finding a recipe to make your own cleaning products with non-toxic, natural materials. Please join us in accepting this challenge!
With the success of our International Women’s Day event in March, we are taking the time to integrate all attendees’ positive feedback and sentiments into the Women Empowering Women Digital Community, which is hosted on the Profound Impact platform.
On that note, we are moving forward with our next Profound Insights webinar in the month of May. The webinar titled “The Future of Work: Lifelong Learning & Networking with Digital Communities,” will explore how employees and employers are evolving in their expectations of longevity of employment and talent resilience. In addition, there will be discussions on how some corporations are launching alumni digital communities to keep connected with ex-employees.
We are thrilled to announce that Sherryl Petricevic, our Account Executive, has been chosen as a finalist for the Fresh Innovators Award presented by Leadership Waterloo Region. After a call to the community for nominations, a panel of community members evaluated and carefully selected the three finalists who on May 6th will vie for a cash prize and the honour of being the Top Fresh Innovator in Waterloo Region. Congratulations Sherryl!
As we step up and continue to accept the challenges presented by COVID-19, we encourage you to learn more about how online virtual events will continue to play an important role in your future stakeholder engagement. If you haven’t already, check our free self-assessment tool to learn how Profound Impact’s platform for digital engagement communities align with your organization’s strategic goals.
We look forward to the month ahead and would like to thank you for your continuous engagement as we transition into a season that celebrates growth and change.
Leader, Innovator and Mentor in the Waterloo Region Community
Sherryl Petricevic is an exceptional leader in the Waterloo Region who continues to achieve excellence and provide opportunities for all members of the community. Sherryl’s career experiences have unleashed her innovative capabilities both personally and professionally, aiding in the advancement of the Women in Communications & Technology (WCT-WR) community.
When the need for a Co-Chair was established in the Waterloo Region Chapter of WCT, Sherryl was naturally the ideal candidate. As someone who knows the Waterloo Region community ecosystem very well, in addition to lived-experience watching Waterloo Region transform into an innovative, entrepreneurial space with talented, motivated people to solve some of the world’s biggest problems, Sherryl’s expertise is exactly what the role required.
As Co-Chair of WCT-WR, Sherryl has played an active role in spearheading several of the organization’s initiatives and programs. Sherryl spent several months consulting with employers, academic and research institutes and community organizations to identify a gap in the availability of mentorship programs for women within the Waterloo Region.
Through Sherryl’s leadership, WCT-WR developed a highly-collaborative program called Mentoring Circles to address the gap. Mentoring Circles are designed to provide like-minded professionals in any industry the opportunity to form strategic partnerships with members of the group. The partnerships are intended to help members deal with current career challenges, as well as find the support and tools they need to grow and develop in their careers. Since the inception of WCT Waterloo Region Mentoring Circles in 2019, over 200 participants of all career stages have participated in the program.
Sherryl’s experience in building partnerships and programs with Communitech and the Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation has enabled her to support big dreamers as they endeavoured to scale-up their businesses and identify niche needs that demanded solutions. Through a tremendous amount of leg-work in meeting community partners to identify the mentorship gap, Sherryl was able to do the same for WCT. Sherryl played a major role in forming the WCT Executive Committee and ensuring the Waterloo Region Chapter was very active, dynamic and inclusive reaching into far corners of the community and removing any barriers to entry. With a clear vision from the start, Sherryl has been able to execute her plans with laser-precision. The success of the WCT Mentoring Circles program is directly attributed to Sherryl’s dedication and resilience.
We commend Sherryl for her continuous efforts and look forward to her future successes and endeavors in the Waterloo Region community and beyond.