BCBusiness + SFU Beedie School of Business
SFU Beedie MBA
Credit: Courtesy SFU Beedie School of Business

Bahar Motlagh, Anat Feldman and Laura Guzman, alumni of SFU Beedie’s Invention to Innovation program, which ladders up to the MOT MBA

Tech focus is attracting record numbers of women

Elicia Maine, professor, innovation and entrepreneurship, for Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business, is pleased but not surprised that female enrolment in the third cohort of her Invention to Innovation diploma program is an unusually strong 37 percent — and that comparable numbers have been achieved in the accompanying Management of Technology MBA.

“Science, engineering and management have up until recently been overwhelmingly populated by men,” she says, “but more and more women are coming to Beedie to pursue careers in these fields, and I strongly suspect it’s because of the unique culture we’ve developed.”

Of course, Beedie lays claim to many firsts, such as offering the first executive MBA in Canada, back in 1968 — and since then it has earned a reputation for providing one of the country’s very best master of business administration programs. Beedie is also the only business school in Canada to have an Invention to Innovation program whereby students gain proficiency in frameworks and skills relevant to science technology commercialization. 

Similarly, the MOT MBA is the first of its kind in Canada and prepares professionals with a deep interest in technology to graduate into leadership roles in a variety of sectors (as with all of Beedie’s MBA programs, MOT focuses on getting groups of students out of the class and into the working world to gain knowledge).

These two programs, combined with the fact that Beedie has what Maine describes as “a strong, visible and engaged female faculty,” has resulted in a rise in applications from women to the institution. “The appeal of these programs is that they help graduate scientists and engineers prepare for employment in the private sector and help commercialize their inventions. Equally important is the fact that they are both part-time undertakings,” says Maine. “This is enormously attractive to women who are either starting a family or scrambling to develop their careers.” 

As for Beedie’s female faculty, Maine points out, “Their presence in information sessions and public events encourages other women to enrol.”

Unsurprisingly, the success stories of enrolees who studied science and technology commercialization at Beedie and have since graduated are numerous. They include Dr. Anat Feldman, who is senior business development officer with STEMCELL Technologies; Bahar Motlagh, whose company, FlexiPatchR, makes wearable technology to monitor Parkinson’s disease symptoms and who is also manager of the Device Development Lab at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto; and Laura Guzman, who is director of government affairs and partnerships at Hydra Energy, a Vancouver-based clean energy venture.

Maine, who is also a materials engineer, is excited to think of who will emerge from her third cohort of Invention to Innovation as well as from the MOT MBA. “It’s interesting that in Canada women are much more highly represented in the biomedical and environmental engineering fields than in traditional science/engineering sectors,” she says. “These two fields speak directly to the pressing issues of today, so it’s enormously fulfilling that Beedie graduates are taking a lead role in tackling them — as well as changing the dynamic of the workplace.”