Associate Vice-President, Innovation at Concordia University of Edmonton
Isha Katyal was studying for her PhD in veterinary microbiology when she came to a career-altering realization.
“I wanted to be a professor even though I didn’t know what it meant to be an academic,” she says. “That’s just how we were conditioned during our masters and PhD programs.”
Katyal looked at other options, and remembers her PhD supervisor suggesting a few alternate career paths from her list, like journalism, business development and technology transfer.
“When I started looking at the technology transfer side of things, that’s when I actually felt motivated to keep going.”
In 2019, she started working at Concordia University’s BMO Centre for Innovation and Applied Research (BMO CIAR). Concordia was shifting its institutional focus towards innovation and applied research.
Through the BMO CIAR, Katyal’s team connects students and faculty with industry partners. Products of the centre include the thrifting site YegRecycled and Maiya, an AI-powered chatbot created to assist neurodiverse people.
When asked to describe her work, however, Katyal prefers to abandon the buzzwords.
“Building partnerships and building connections. That’s the core of my job and how we advance all of our initiatives. By working with the right people, getting them in a room together and getting funders to believe in a project so that we can keep working.”