The women in our community are shaping the local tech industry—blazing a trail for others and leaving their mark on business in Saskatchewan.

Our latest Ideas on Tap brings together female influencers, decision-makers, and leaders to discuss their own personal experience working and building businesses in the technology space/tech world.

Check out the videos of these empowering women who are turning their vision for success into a reality as they grow their businesses, careers, and become game-changing tech professionals.

Monique Simair - Innovation and Leadership

When Monique Simair is not focussed on growing her business, she spends her days figuring out ways technologies from multiple disciplines can be integrated to decrease environmental impacts through improving water quality at mines.

Monique founded Contango, a globally leading company in biological water treatment technologies designing, implementing, and fixing systems such as treatment wetlands and bioreactors, in 2010 This innovative technology development firm was the first independent company to offer environmental microbial genomics testing.

These business achievements have resulted in Dr. Simair being named to Profit Magazine’s Future Entrepreneurial Leaders (2011), and the W100 list of Canada’s top female entrepreneurs (2015). Monique holds a PhD in applied microbiology and a post-doctoral research associateship in biogeochemistry and environmental microbiology. Dr. Simair also studied bioinformatics through her graduate studies (the development of computer algorithms to better understand biological systems), which is a core aspect of the genomics services offered at Contango.

Dr. Simair stays busy giving back to the community by sitting on several boards and committees, and as an adjunct professor at the University of Saskatchewan and Clemson University (South Carolina). She was also formerly an academic lead for the University of the Arctic. From 2014 – 2017, Dr. Simair served as Canada’s youngest ever appointed member to the Canadian federal government’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Council.

Dr. Simair believes that a key to Contango’s success has been in their multidisciplinary approach, while continually striving for excellence. Her growing team of scientists and technologists is currently (unintentionally) over 80% female, and includes numerous PhD and MSc educated scientists, from multiple disciplines including toxicology, biochemistry, geology, geochemistry, soil physics, bioinformatics, microbiology.

Monique holds a PhD in applied microbiology and a post-doctoral research associateship in biogeochemistry and environmental microbiology. Dr. Simair also studied bioinformatics through her graduate studies (the development of computer algorithms to better understand biological systems), which is a core aspect of the genomics services offered at Contango.

Dr. Simair stays busy giving back to the community by sitting on several boards and committees, and as an adjunct professor at the University of Saskatchewan and Clemson University (South Carolina). She was also formerly an academic lead for the University of the Arctic. From 2014 – 2017, Dr. Simair served as Canada’s youngest ever appointed member to the Canadian federal government’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Council.

Women in Tech Panel

Jocelyn Bissonnette spent a couple decades in the analytical chemistry and industrial process, and has since shifted her focus to Industrial Safety and currently works as a Health Physicist at Cameco Corporation’s head office. Her passions began with the study of sustainable and responsible energy production and the associated geochemical issues that may impact the environment, and have since evolved into responsible monitoring and measurement required to ensure safety for both personnel working in the industry and the communities these facilities influence. She holds a Master’s degree in Geochemistry that she completed a collaboration with the University of Saskatchewan, Cameco and the Canadian Light Source.

Amy Pitman (BSc Eng, MSc Physics) is a graduate of the Physics and Engineering Physics Undergraduate and Master’s programs, now working as a Technical Account Manager at Mentor Graphics (formerly Solido Design Automation) in Saskatoon, SK.

Roberta Barrington holds a Bachelor of Design degree (BDES) from the Alberta College of Art & Design, is a Certified Graphic Designer (CGD) as designated by the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, and attended Interaction Design intensive classes at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. Recently, Roberta fired up the Saskatoon chapter of Jessica Walsh’s Ladies Wine & Design salon series with the intent to hold monthly gatherings for and by female creatives. She is an amazing advocate for women in the tech industry.

Stephanie Melnyk is a small town woman who is a pyrography artist, an avid gamer and is very passionate about all tech. She fell in love with Computer Science and Programming in her Grade 12 year. Before that she was often found testing mods or games that her younger brother programmed and enjoyed finding bugs in software and games she played. Even now, she finds enjoyment crushing bugs and preventing them with thorough testing and teaching others the importance of testing their code.

Jean Parchewsky (B.Sc, Psych) leads Vendasta's People Operations, responsible for attracting, developing, and retaining the amazing team of Vendastians. She believes that the culture of a company is the key to its success. Jean leads the creation and implementation of people programs to grow the inspiring culture at Vendasta.

Jacqueline Cook - Female Leadership at Vendasta

Jacqueline is the Chief Strategy Officer at Vendasta. She leads Vendasta’s internationalization efforts and gathers key organizational data and customer insights to drive product strategy and ensure the company is achieving its long-term goals.

Jacqueline is an alumnus of The Next 36 Entrepreneurial Institute, Canada’s premier entrepreneurial leadership initiative. During the program, she co-founded and was CEO of Triumf Mobile Rewards: a tablet and Smartphone-based platform for small and medium-sized businesses to customize their own loyalty rewards programs. She has been a speaker at events such as Tejo Talks, sponsored by Canada's Embassy to Portugal as part of Web Summit, TEDx UofS and WE DAY, and has represented Canada at the 2010 G8 and G20 Summits, the 2010 APEC Summit in Japan, and at the 2011 G20 Young Entrepreneur Summit in France.

Jacqueline has been a recipient of CBC Saskatchewan's Future 40 under 40 and a YWCA Women of Distinction Award. She is the President of Recess Guardians and serves on the board of Care and Share and Co.Labs, Saskatchewan’s first technology incubator.

About Ideas on Tap

Ideas On Tap is Saskatoon’s must-attend monthly event, Great speakers, food, drink, networking & learning.

Locals from the community come into our office and give a presentation. Anyone is welcome to give a talk, share some knowledge, pitch new business ideas or share passionate side projects.

Fun, engaging speakers with experience, innovative ideas, and helpful tips is what Ideas on Tap is all about. Come learn with us in person!

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