Angela Robert
Credit: Courtesy of Angela Robert

Co-founder and CEO, Conquer Mobile

With her latest venture, Angela Robert is making the most of her video gaming background. At Electronic Arts Canada, she worked on more than 20 games in five years, including as development director for Skate and Skate 2. In 2013, Robert and her team at Conquer Mobile Inc. developed PeriopSim, which use simulation training via an iPad and virtual reality to familiarize operating room nurses with surgical instruments and procedures. “Instead of skateboarders, you’ve got surgeons and nurses, but you’re learning all the different moves that you do, all the different terminology,” she explains.

More than 30 North American hospitals use the tool. The company, located in Surrey’s Health Tech Innovation Hub, is rebranding as Conquer Experience, having sold Conquer Mobile, the mobile app development division founded in 2009, to Vancouver-headquartered Appnovation Technologies Inc. last September.

Growing up in St. Georges, a small town northeast of Winnipeg, Robert was a tomboy who played a lot of ringette, winning two national championships. When she was in high school, her dad came home with a brochure announcing a computer science class at her school, remarking “I hear computers are the next biggest thing,” to which she replied, “OK, maybe I’ll try it.” Now she reflects, “It was a simple comment like that, and I fell in love with something.”

After high school, she went to the University of Waterloo for a bachelor of mathematics in computer science. Robert, who speaks at organizations and events including SCWIST, AppCamp4Girls, SFU’s Surrey Collaborative Outreach Research Experience (SCORE) program and Waterloo’s Think About Math, has hosted girls at her offices to experience VR and learn about tech.

How can we get more women into STEM?

It’s a marketing issue, says Robert, in the same way that chips are more popular than apples. Female role models like Cher Wang, co-founder and chair of Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC Corp., and Judy Faulker, founder and CEO of U.S. health-care software giant Epic Systems Corp., are important. And dads need to encourage their daughters to try things instead of being pigeonholed into what their friends are doing, Robert emphasizes.