Laura Best
Laura Best - Lawyer and Co-Founder, Embarkation Law Corporation
Nominator: Fadi Yachoua


In the six years Laura has been practicing law, she has contributed positively to the lives of her clients, her community and the legal profession. Laura specializes in immigration and refugee law – an area that she is passionate about primarily because it allows her to help individuals and families from diverse backgrounds in securing a better life in Canada. Laura began her career working tirelessly to secure the release a number of women, men and children who were arrested when the MV Sun Sea, a cargo ship that brought 492 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees fleeing the civil war arrived in British Columbia. Laura is also board member of the Vancouver Association for the Survivors of Torture ("VAST"). Despite being a young lawyer, Laura owns and operates a modern boutique law firm in downtown Vancouver that has four staff and three lawyers.

What advice would you give to young women looking to establish and grow their career?

1. Speak up! Confidence matters as much as competence. Give presentations, ask for what you want, come prepared with your ideas and be sure to voice them. People are going to take credit for your ideas and accomplishments. Don't be afraid to take up the space you deserve and worked for. 2. Pick a life partner who has got your back. You want someone to debate ideas, share the career ups and downs, and who can bring the baby to breastfeed during the court breaks. 3. Keep your friends close. Celebrate each other, toast your accomplishments and keep your failures in perspective.

What motivates you as a business or community leader?

Many of my clients are trying to reunite with their loved ones or find safe haven as a refugee in Canada. The best reward is winning a case for them because it means bringing them into Canada for a better life.

What habits or rituals contribute to your success?

I bike to work everyday. That means exercise is built into my day, rather than an extra task I have to schedule. While I'm on my bike, I can take a mental break from stress.

What is the most daunting challenge you have faced in your career?

Balancing having a child and career ambitions has been more difficult than I thought it would be. I have had to be more flexible and more willing to ask for help.

How do you define success?

Getting up knowing that I do what I love and that my work is contributing to a better world. Having a family I love. Sharing red wine, dark chocolate and hot yoga with friends.


Annie Chou
Annie Chou - Cardiologist, Lions Gate Hospital
Nominator: Dr. Stephanie Bonn


Annie has made a significant difference in her community and profession. Cardiology is a competitive, highly-challenging and male-dominated specialty of medicine with only 20 percent being women and 5 percent being 34 years old and under. Annie has had 7 peer-reviewed studies published and is active in her community as a committee member of the Children's Oncology Department of the Ronald McDonald House. Annie has volunteered her professional medical services in Thailand, Uganda and South Africa, as well as, teaching international medical students cardiac physical exams; educating first-year residents on reading electrocardiograms and is a mentor for female students in the UBC Faculty of Science, Women in Science and Engineering.

What advice would you give to young women looking to establish and grow their career?

There will always be obstacles and challenges precluding you from easily achieving your dream. Counter that with perseverance, hard work, and a smile on your face and you will accomplish your goal and enrich your career.

What motivates you as a business or community leader?

Patient advocacy and education are important to me. The belief that I can improve public awareness and community health through my medical practice, my liaisons with family practitioners, and my community educational sessions, strongly motivates me to work hard.

What do you think makes an individual successful in business?

There are numerous definitions of success, including monetary gain or net worth. On the contrary, I believe that a person is successful in business when they achieve sustainable and effective working relationships - strong connections beget other connections.

What is the most daunting challenge you have faced in your career?

Even in the current era, it is difficult to excel in a male-dominated specialty. Although rare, I have encountered older male physicians who find it difficult to follow a younger female colleague's lead. At times, even patients may take me less seriously because of my age and gender.

Where do you get your best ideas?

My best ideas to improve efficiency come to me when I become frustrated with daily annoyances (such as electronic medical records). Other business ideas come to me when I don't have paper or pen - in the shower, on the massage table, or in bed.


Andrea Palmer-Boroski
Andrea Palmer-Boroski, - CEO, Awake Labs
Nominator: Anja Lanz


Andrea is an engineer turned-entrepreneur, autism health advocate, and exponential technology geek. Awake Labs is an autism health company committed to improving the lives of those living on the autism spectrum. Andrea graduated from Mechanical Engineering at UBC in May 2015 and has focused her efforts since then on social impact, quantified health care, and democratizing technology. Her product, Reveal, was recognized as "the most innovative product to impact the lives of 1,000,000 Canadians in the next 3-5 years" at the Canadian Global Impact Competition in 2015. Andrea has won several awards and is dedicated to building and mentoring companies and to creating strong entrepreneurial communities.

What advice would you give to young women looking to establish and grow their career?

The best advice I could give to young women is to find something that motivates you, take chances, and make it happen. I had no idea what I wanted to do after university (or even during university), but I found an great network of people who were all motivated by the same thing: impact. We started Awake Labs, something that was truly motivating to change the lives of people, and went from there. So far that journey has brought me to California and Chile to develop the product, and I continue to try to take chances and do what I can to ensure its success. So for the young women out there, start by finding out what motivates you.

What motivates you as a business or community leader?

I am motivated by the impact that my company can have on individuals' lives. Every time I hear a story of how Reveal could affect a family, a classroom, a workplace, it makes me even more motivated to ensure we can bring it to life for those people.

What habits or rituals contribute to your success?

Coffee. But seriously, coffee. And being able to prioritize effectively. As Pascal Finette wrote, "Strategy is less about what you do, it is much more about what you don't do... become crystal clear about what it is you want to do and achieve. Figure out which actions support this plan. And then start saying no to everything else."

What is the most daunting challenge you have faced in your career?

The most daunting challenge I have faced is being a CEO - having employees depending on you to get paid, and people depending on you to develop a reliable and meaningful product.

Where do you get your best ideas?

I get my best ideas during my "downtime" - bus rides, exercise, meditation - when I actually have time to clear my head, think, and reflect on what I'm working on.


Maryam Sadeghi
Maryam Sadeghi, - CEO and Co-founder, MetaOptima Technology Inc.
Nominator: Gayle Hallgren-Rezac & Judy Thomson


MetaOptima Technology Inc. is a female-led bright light in B.C.'s biotechnology and life sciences industry. Maryam and her team invented MoleScope, the first home-use mobile dermoscope - a game changer in the early detection of skin cancer. It is an easy-to-use, beautifully packaged, affordable smartphone attachment that provides a high-resolution, detailed view of the skin through magnification and specialized lighting. The reach of this product is global. Maryam continues to contribute to her community including organizing conferences and mentoring high school and undergraduate students at SFU's Let's Talk Science program.

What advice would you give to young women looking to establish and grow their career?

Believe in yourself. If you love what you do, and if you believe your work is meaningful, you won't be afraid of new challenges you'll be facing everyday to build a healthy business. It's like a sport, full of excitement. No matter what the result is, every step is a success if you think you are on the right path to your dream and vision. I believe that starting your own business is an opportunity any young professional or recent graduate should take if they have the domain knowledge, passion, and drive. There are plenty of mentors and professionals out there that are willing to give advice and help you drive your dream. Don't underestimate your social capital. Collaboration is an important part of the social capital when you start a new venture. You need to find partners who share your vision and help you drive your dream as an entrepreneur to make a difference. Especially in the beginning of your journey, when you have zero financial capital, your social capital is all you have and plays a super important role in your success.

What motivates you as a business or community leader?

I derived my courage from my passion to make a difference, have a positive impact in our community and economy, create jobs, help in need people, and build a solution that can touch people's lives. I wanted to build a novel, affordable and effective solution to help millions of patients and physicians.

What do you think makes an individual successful in business?

It starts from you. As a woman, scientist, and entrepreneur, I understand how much confidence and self-esteem it requires to build your business. Self-esteem is a reflection of your personal evaluation. It is how much you believe in yourself and your power to make things happen. It is all about your drive and passion and hard work. Next is having expertise, domain knowledge, and eagle view to the problem and available solutions out there in the market.

How do you define success?

Success for me is happiness and self-satisfaction. Being happy to make a difference, to have impact in my community, and to take steps towards building a better world as much as I can. I believe every single step counts.

Where do you get your best ideas?

Watching people in their everyday life! What challenges we are facing everyday? How we can overcome these challenges and problem? What is my expertise and how I can find a more affordable, accessible and effective solution? I also believe sharing is caring.


Sharon Kaur Singh
Sharon Kaur Singh, - Associate, Bennett Jones LLP
Nominator: Richard Prokopanko


Sharon began her professional career with Rio Tinto in 2007 and since then has quickly moved up the ranks. In her role with Rio Tinto she worked closely with communities, governments, suppliers and Aboriginal peoples. In many of the engaged Aboriginal communities, Sharon created a Women's Circle to encourage the women to learn about the resources sector so they could gain the confidence to voice their opinion in the public consultation process. As self-confessed policy wonk Sharon strives to encourage a diverse (sex, ethnicity, ability) range of next leaders to learn and engage in public policy to help grow the province.

What advice would you give to young women looking to establish and grow their career?

1. Ask for advice from others. 2. Get involved and give back to your community (professionally and socially). 3. Help others to grow their career. 4. Love what you do, and if you stop loving it, move on. 5. Be genuine. 6. Recognize other's involvement and give credit.

What motivates you as a business or community leader?

Many things, including: learning something new, taking on a challenge, spending time with my family and friends, working with or interacting brilliant and awe-inspiring individuals, a rigorous hike, a random act of kindness, and selfless community leaders.

What do you think makes an individual successful in business?

A drive for adding value, recognizing one's limitations and filling the gap with other's strengths, a solid network that never stops growing, and mentoring anybody that requests it.

What is the most daunting challenge you have faced in your career?

Personally, it is being the victim of internet trolling and having faith in the community (professionally and socially) for recognizing defamation and libel when they read it. The experience has made me more firm in my belief to help others facing similar issues.

How do you define success?

When you have created value or helped someone else create value, and an unrelenting enthusiasm for reaching your goal, no matter how many failures you encounter along the journey.