Arushi Raina, 28

Program manager, SCI Accelerate, Praxis Spinal Cord Institute

Life Story: Having lived in seven countries on four continents, Arushi Raina, born in India and raised mostly in South Africa, attributes her fearlessness to being an outsider.

She earned a BA in economics and English literature at Vassar College in New York state, then made what she describes as an “audacious cold call” to a fellow alumna, who introduced her to someone at professional services firm KPMG. Despite having no experience, she was offered a position in Vancouver and cut her teeth working on large projects in the health sector, including helping project manage the clinical plan for the $1-billion capital redevelopment of St. Paul’s Hospital.

In 2018, Raina completed an MBA at the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario, then returned to Vancouver and launched a consulting firm. Through that business, she landed her current position last summer: program manager of the Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Accelerate division at the Praxis Spinal Cord Institute, based in the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre near Vancouver General Hospital. “I’ve fallen in love with health care; it’s extremely analytical, and you’re dealing with very human and political problems,” she says. In her role, she is working on the world’s first business accelerator for SCI technologies.

Raina is also an author. Her first novel, When Morning Comes, a young adult work published by Vancouver’s Tradewind Books in 2016, follows four people living in Johannesburg during apartheid. She is working on her next book, also for teen readers.

Bottom Line: The not-for-profit accelerator is providing $50,000 each to five startups whose technologies could help people with SCI. Raina’s team of three will be ensuring the companies are “growing, making sure they close deals,” she says.

If the pilot works, Raina and her team will launch Praxis Neuro Venture, a for-profit arm of the charity to ensure that Praxis gets long-term returns to invest in SCI tech.