Meet the Finalists for ‘Person of the Year’

The finalists for the “Person of the Year” award at the 2022 TIAs are recognized icons in the provincial tech ecosystem. These acknowledged leaders have demonstrated business success in multiple settings, have acted as mentors and role models to others, and have actively engaged with the community to build a stronger future for tech in B.C. The award is presented in partnership with Amazon.

Dr. Joy Johnson

Appointed as Simon Fraser University’s 10th President and Vice-Chancellor in January 2020, Joy’s keen intelligence, broad experience, and compassionate and collaborative leadership helped her steer the SFU community through one of the most uncertain periods in recent history. She has removed bureaucratic barriers to facilitate more robust university-industry partnerships, continually strives to remove barriers to equity and efficacy, and places great importance on training and developing the next generation of leaders. Throughout her career, she has taught, supervised, mentored and worked with a generation of influential women in science.

As a researcher who has co-authored more than 180 peer-reviewed articles, Joy is an International leader in advancing higher education, research and innovation for the benefit of people and communities. She is sought after at the national level for her insight, wisdom, and advice on a wide range of policy matters. Joy encourages funding agencies and governments to address global health inequities at all levels, from pre-clinical work and clinical trials through to the implementation and evaluation of more effective and inclusive policies and interventions.

Josh Nilson

This proud Métis from Willow River, a small community north of Prince George, approaches the tech industry in much the same way as career development: If you want something, “traditional” limitations shouldn’t stop you. Had Josh been limited by the expectations of others, he might never have left his career in hospitality, started in tech or co-founded East Side Games (ESG), which went public on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2021 following its $159-million acquisition by LEAF Mobile Inc. (now East Side Games Group).

As Co-founder, General Manager and Studio Head of Vancouver-based ESG, Josh is never afraid to be his authentic self, and encourages his team of approximately 200 employees to be bold in their quest for solutions, to be curious in everything they do, and to be candid about their experiences and perspectives. Every voice is welcome in the pursuit of creating fun and inclusive mobile games such as RuPaul’s Drag Race Superstar and The Office: Somehow We Manage. Josh understands the importance of diverse perspectives in all aspects of the business, and always asks and encourages others to look at the goal rather than the “traditional” options available. Speaking of business, Josh’s leadership has resulted in record revenues for ESG, and the achievement of recent milestones such as $100 million in gross annual revenue.

Dr. Pascal Spothelfer

Since moving to Vancouver with his family in 1998, Pascal has left an indelible mark across business, academic and tech organizations ranging from the BC Tech Association to the University of British Columbia to Spectrum Signal Processing.

Under the leadership of the Swiss-born innovator since 2016, Genome BC transitioned to a strategy that includes an explicit innovation mandate, expanded its Industry Innovation program and reorganized itself to optimally fulfill its mission. These strengths were in full display in Genome BC’s rapid response to the COVID emergency. Recently, Genome BC earned $78 million in provincial government funding, the largest single contribution in its history. This three-year investment will allow the organization to lead cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs to improve human health, increase food security, help B.C. adapt to the changing climate, and support sustainability in the natural resource sectors. As part of a total investment portfolio of more than $193 million, this significant commitment to genomics and life sciences by B.C.’s provincial government allows Genome BC to proactively implement its long-term strategy and drive real-life impacts for British Columbians.