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Seven Winners Announced for 2024 Surrey Women in Business Awards

On Friday, April 12, the Surrey Board of Trade hosted the 15th Annual Surrey Women in Business Awards Luncheon, with Presenting Sponsor Prospera Credit Union. This event recognizes the hard work of Surrey’s businesswomen and their contributions to the community.

Master of Ceremonies Keri Adams of CTV Vancouver led the afternoon’s program. Over 450 guests enjoyed keynote speaker, sponsored by DP World Canada, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau. She fascinated the crowd as she shared stories from her life and lessons in overcoming the barriers women face in leadership.

“We are proud to celebrate the achievements of all women-identifying persons for their accomplishments, strength, and resilience.,” said Anita Huberman, President and CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. “Our Surrey Women in Business Team is committed to continue our diversified and unique support services to women entrepreneurs through a variety of impactful inclusion initiatives to focus on empowering women economically, bridging generation gaps, changing the business culture of the workplace, and increasing the number of female owned businesses in Surrey.”

The energy and excitement were contagious throughout the audience as the following winners were announced in seven categories:

Entrepreneur – Small Business Category: Katherine De Vita, Ocean Pointe Business Centre

Katherine is the Company Director and Owner of Ocean Pointe Business Centre, which specializes in providing professional executive office spaces for rent, offering top-notch amenities at a fraction of traditional costs. With over 20 years of entrepreneurial experience, she empowers local businesses and start-ups, particularly championing women in business and fostering inclusivity. Her expertise in contracts, finance, and business strategy, combined with a Psychology degree from the University of British Columbia, amplifies empathy and fosters individual and business growth. Additionally, Katherine serves as Vice President of the Semiahmoo Community Safety Society, exemplifying her dedication to community service.

Entrepreneur – Large Business Category: Mona Matta, Verka Food International Ltd.

Mona is the Owner and CEO of Verka Food International, specializing in importing, manufacturing, and distributing premium South Asian ethnic food products, boasting an extensive range of over 1,400 items. Serving major retailers like Costco, Walmart, and Sobeys and over 1,200 ethnic stores across Canada, Verka Foods is a prominent player in the market. Under Mona’s leadership, Verka Food thrives with a dedicated workforce of over 100 professionals in both Canada and internationally. Honoured with the Shakti Award for Excellence in Business in 2016, Mona actively supports women’s empowerment initiatives, engaging as a guest speaker at networking events and sharing her journey of success and challenges across various media platforms. Additionally, Mona serves as an advisory board member at BBold Pvt Ltd., a venture dedicated to empowering women on their journey toward womanhood.

Professional Category: Anita Atwal, Anita Atwal Law

Anita is the Owner of Anita Atwal Law and a distinguished legal professional specializing in workplace investigations, mediation, and diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility initiatives. With over 15 years of experience, she is highly regarded for her expertise in labour, employment, and human rights law. Her leadership extends beyond her practice; she sits on the Board and chairs the HR & Governance Committee at B.C. Infrastructure Benefits and serves as the Special Advisor to the Vice President of People Equity and Inclusion at Simon Fraser University after serving as the Principal Consultant of SFU’s Human Rights Office. As the longest-serving president of the South Asian Bar Association of BC, she mentors aspiring lawyers and advocates for justice. Anita’s work ethic and commitment to community service drives her success.

Not-for-Profit Leader Category: Mannu Sandhu, iSAFF – International South Asian Film Festival

Mannu has transformed Surrey’s cultural landscape through her dedicated service and visionary leadership. Her journey with the International South Asian Film Festival (iSAFF) showcases her unwavering commitment to community building and the arts. Starting with a modest one-day festival, Mannu’s strategic guidance has propelled iSAFF into a prestigious 5-day event, attracting talent from across North America. Her strategic acumen is evident in the festival’s innovative marketing endeavours, leveraging her extensive network and collaborations with renowned film festivals. Recognized as one of the Top South Asian Influential People, Mannu amplifies diverse voices through iSAFF on social media, contributing meaningfully to the cinematic world. Under her guidance, iSAFF has become a vital platform for diverse artists, earning recognition as a qualified Canadian screening award festival.

Corporate Leader Category: Madhvi Ramnial, Powertech Labs Inc.

Madhvi Ramnial is the Senior Director of Corporate Services and Business Operations at Powertech Labs. She is distinguished leader with a Ph.D. in Chemistry and a Master’s in management technology. She has led groundbreaking research, managing teams that significantly helped achieve a revenue increase from $20M to $60M. Madhvi’s strategic leadership blends scientific acumen with business insight, overseeing major facility improvements and leading ISO standards upgrades at Powertech. Renowned for transformative leadership and corporate strategy, Madhvi is a role model for women in business, championing diversity and breaking barriers through the Highlighting Our Women Leaders initiative in a male-dominated field. Madhvi’s dynamic and forward-thinking leadership positions her as a formidable force in the corporate landscape. Her innovative contributions span research and development, strategic market expansion, facilities optimization, crisis management, and community engagement. Furthermore, her instrumental role in establishing a subsidiary in the USA underscores her visionary approach and commitment to Powertech’s global growth, solidifying her reputation as an innovative and dynamic corporate leader.

Emerging Leader Category: Trisha Dulku, United Way British Columbia

Trisha Dulku is the Strategic Initiatives Manager at United Way British Columbia, where she manages child and youth strategic investment portfolios totalling over $6 million per fiscal year. Known for her advocacy and collaboration in the child and youth sector, Trisha is a role model for women in business. Her success is marked by achieving meaningful goals and promoting the well-being of others. Armed with a Bachelor of Arts in World Literature and History from Simon Fraser University, Trisha’s leadership skills were developed through her experience in external relations and the Office of Community Engagement, where she spearheaded university projects in Surrey. Currently, Trisha also contributes to her community as a board member of CityHive.

Social Trailblazer Category: Lauren Simpson, Self-Advocates of Semiahmoo

Lauren is the leader of the Self-Advocates of Semiahmoo. Through her volunteer work and lived experiences as a person with Down Syndrome, Lauren advocates for accessibility, inclusion and human rights on multiple ongoing projects within her community. Her hope has always been for people to better access and share information, as well as be part of the conversation. Lauren’s innovation in transforming housing surveys into plain language has shifted perspectives and empowered people with disabilities. Not only has Lauren’s voice been included, but she has shifted the paradigm and led the conversation. She has paved the way for people with disabilities to take on leadership roles and has shifted the perspective of what they can accomplish. When Harmony Apartments was rejected by the previous council, Lauren wanted to create public awareness around the importance of inclusive housing. Lauren’s Story is a documentary that follows the journey of housing activist and disability advocate Lauren Simpson as she works for affordable housing for herself and others and tries to convince municipal decision-makers that cities are stronger when they are inclusive and that everyone has the right to belong. Her tireless efforts have reshaped conversations around disability, making her a beacon of positive change.

Presenting Sponsor:
Prospera Credit Union

Speaker Sponsor:
DP World Canada

Award Sponsors:
BCAA Small Business Insurance, Fasken, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Manning Elliott, MNP, New York Institute of Technology Vancouver and Richards Buell Sutton LLP

Community Sponsors:
CIMtech Green Energy, Envision Financial, Scotiabank and the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel

Entertainment Sponsor:
Central City

Media Sponsors:
CTV and the Surrey-NOW Leader

Nominations were submitted in seven categories and judged on the nominee’s work in Surrey, proven business acumen, leadership, and community involvement and service.

For further information, please contact Anita Huberman, President and CEO, Surrey Board of Trade, at anita@businessinsurrey.com or at 604.634.0342.

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