Canadian Manufacturing names top Women to Watch in 2021
By Sadi Muktadir
To celebrate the important contributions women have made in the manufacturing industry, it was important to recognize their achievements, especially those in leadership positions in the Canadian manufacturing landscape. Our search found a number of women doing incredible work, three of which have been highlighted below.
Jennifer Green is a director at Skills Ontario, a government funded organization that aims to increase interest and enrollment in the skilled trades across industries in Ontario. Jennifer Green has been a strong advocate for young women in increasing their interest and enrolment and decreasing the stigma around a career in the skilled trades through her involvement in programs in secondary schools across the province.
Green has a background in CNC Machining, having worked as an industrial millwright mechanic for a number of years before pivoting to advocacy and education for diversity in the skilled trades. Her involvement saw a rise in interest and involvement in the annuals Skills Ontario competition and the competition’s virtual transition due to the pandemic was in part possible because of Jennifer’s enthusiasm and leadership.
“Our challenge is to have the same level of hands-on, high level training and coordination in a virtual environment,” says Green. “One of the great side effects we saw was that the enrolment of schools actually increased because most of the competitions could now be done virtually. We were no longer limited by space or location, and opportunities exploded.”
Adds Green: “We’re going to do our best to make sure the virtual competition is a success.”
The Skills Ontario competition is scheduled for May 3-5, and will be worth monitoring to gauge the success of the virtual transition of the competition.
Ainishah Hemraj is the head of sales at Mosaic Manufacturing, a 3D printing company that recently signed a significant sales agreement with Athletic Knit, a Toronto sports apparel company.
Hemraj has been instrumental at Mosaic Manufacturing’s growth. Mosaic experienced record growth since the pandemic, going from a 20-person team to over 40 employees now in size. Ainishah was part of a few exciting pandemic sales deals, and is enthusiastic about continuing her success.
“3D printing has really taken off as a result of the pandemic. Our teams have grown a lot, I know our engineering team increased significantly. Our sales and marketing team has more than doubled,” Hemraj says. “I’m proud to say I was part of a PPE project we worked on with 3 other companies, printing over 17,000 face shields. I was also part of the Objex Unlimited launch, a printing service bureau that is purchasing (our automated printing system, Array) from us. Currently, we’re also in talks with some educational institutions who want to work with us to streamline project management to help their engineering departments. So there are a few exciting projects in the works that I’m proud of.”
Hemraj noted that the pandemic made it easier for Mosaic to market itself by creating a demand for a more flexible supply chain from manufacturers. Hemraj’s sales contracts will be exciting to watch from the sidelines as Mosaic Manufacturing assists a variety of industries in their pandemic resiliency and transformation.
Melissa Chee is president and CEO of ventureLAB, and a board member at the NGen manufacturing supercluster who has helped to launch ventureLAB’s first cohort of advanced manufacturing startups in Feb. of 2020.
She’s currently working on launching the second cohort of scalable tech start-ups in the midst of the pandemic and her leadership has helped ventureLAB power through their work-from-home transition and continued support of promising Canadian advanced manufacturers.
“I’ve been involved in tech my whole career more or less,” Chee explains. “I’ve seen the kind of values that result in success. Having a performance-based culture has certainly contributed to our diverse workforce and success. Being relentless, visionary, and innovative will increase diversity. We’re proud to say we have a 50/50 board of men and women because of that commitment.”
Chee has been part of a number of semi-conductor projects while at VentureLAB. Throughout the pandemic, she has helped secure valuable hardware and tech for companies like Cyberworks Robotics Inc., BlueMind AI, Bionic-i and others, helping them cement their position as advanced manufacturing leaders in Canada.
Chee’s relentless drive and values are a noteworthy example of how leadership trickles to all facets of the organization and keeps a diverse tech hub successful throughout the pandemic.