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Kat Tyrell

Manager, Automotive and Mobility Strategy
Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network, Ontario Centre of Innovation
Kat Tyrell
Kat Tyrell

About me

I was born/grew up in: I was born in Newmarket, Ontario and grew up in Sutton, Ontario which is about an hour north of Toronto.

I now live in: I currently live in Scarborough, Ontario with my husband and pets.

I completed my training/education at: I did a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in International Studies and a Master in Public and International Affairs (MPIA) - both at Glendon College, which is a bilingual campus of York University in Toronto.

What I do at work

At the Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI), my goal is to support the transition to the more efficient, safe and clean movement of people and goods. To do this, I work with a team and a number of partners to build strategic initiatives. These initiative will ensure that Ontario’s automotive and mobility sector continues to thrive and advance.

My tasks change from day-to-day. Some of my time is spent looking at what is happening in the world of smart mobility. For example, what are the new technologies and trends? At other times I am meeting with people in government. This is to make sure we are aligned with their needs. I also work with companies, training institutions and/or innovation hubs to gather insights from the field. On a regular basis, I spend time brainstorming with my team members on things like future forecasting and strategy development.

We also work on pilot projects that aim to improve equity, diversity and inclusion across the sector. For example, our team is working with a company to build an online platform to help people find resources and career information. This platform will make use of advanced technologies and find ways to put data in a visual form, which will make it easier to understand.  While I don’t do any of the coding, I do need to know the basics of IT and website development. This is important so I can explain what we need to create to the people who are doing the coding.

While I do interact with STEM on a daily basis, my role is focused around policy, strategy and stakeholder engagement. However, having an understanding of science and technology is very helpful when working with experts from various backgrounds in STEM, and is helping me to develop strategies that support the development of smart mobility technologies.

My career path is

When I was in high school, I had no idea I’d end up in a career relating to STEM! I was on a path to work in international relations and policy. It wasn’t until I was in university that I realized I had a passion for social innovation. It was at that point that I realized science and tech could be used to help solve global issues.

Before graduation, I tried to get as much hands-on experience as I could. I did internships and coops. I learned new languages. I volunteered with nonprofits and participated in extra-curricular activities on campus. All of these things really added to my experience and helped me to break into the workforce.

In my career path since graduation, all of my jobs have had a heavy lens on STEM. After graduating, I worked in emergency management with federal government. Here I had to learn about the scientific implications behind public health emergencies and apply this to my work. As a Policy Analyst with the Ministry of Transportation, I worked with engineers to help create road safety policies. I also researched the impact of disruptive technologies like Uber. This helped develop policies on how best to respond to newer forms of mobility.

I was also the Head of Science and Innovation with the British High Commission in Canada. Here I analyzed a wide range of science and tech priorities and expertise in Canada and the UK.

In this role I provided advice to UK government officials on science collaborations and led to joint research and development (R&D) opportunities on likeminded technological priorities. Central to all of these positions has been the requirement of keeping up-to-date with changes in science and technology. It also meant I had to understand their implications on social, environmental, and economic issues.

I am motivated by

I love working and meeting with partners and stakeholders. It’s great to find ways we can join forces to achieve common goals! I also love reading up on the latest in innovation, science and tech. This helps me figure out how these advancements can/should be applied in my work on skills and talent for the smart mobility sector.

Using STEM to help advance our society is also at the core of my interests. I love to using evidence from science and tech to develop strategies and policies that help address social, environmental, and economic issues. I also love working within a diverse, creative and open-minded team. Brainstorming things like future trends, or developing ideas for projects to learn from new approaches, are really enjoyable tasks.

How I affect peoples’ lives

My work with the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN) will help Ontario companies to develop cleaner, safer and smarter ways to move people and goods. My work also helps bring people and organizations together to explore how best to improve smart mobility technologies, and ensure that Ontario is a global leader in developing and deploying these technologies.

I also focus on improving equity, diversity and inclusion in this sector. This means that I am helping underrepresented groups like women and minority groups to get better access to resources and opportunities. As we move to electric and hybrid vehicles, new technologies and skills are needed. Much of my job is also helping to advance cleaner transportation solutions in the province.

Outside of work I

Outside of work, I really love to keep active – I love Muay Thai. This is a type of kickboxing that helps me to feel strong and helps me to manage my stress. I also love running, board games, cooking and hanging out with friends, family and pets. However, my absolute favourite thing to do is travel! I love exploring new regions, practicing other languages, and learning about other cultures and ways of life

My advice to others

I have a few pieces of advice if you’re interested in a similar career path:

  • Read the news! Keep up to date with your knowledge of politics, world issues, business trends, technological and scientific trends.
  • Try to get as much experience in your field as you can while you study. Look for extra-curricular activities on campus, and coop/internship opportunities. Even gap years can be great for taking a break from studies to get some solid work experience.
  • Network! Join student groups on campus to start building connections. Start thinking about what kind of organization you’d like to work for. Then, reach out to people who work there. Invite them for a coffee date to learn more about their work. Look into volunteer and/or internship possibilities to build connections and gain more practical experience.
  • Work on your confidence! Try not to let shyness prevent you from getting out there, networking, and doing a bit of self-promotion here and there. It may feel awkward at first, but you’ll get used to it. You can gain some very valuable connections this way that can help you succeed in your career.
  • Travel if you can! There is no better way to open up your mind and experience to all of what our incredible world has to offer!
When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Art
  • Foreign languages
  • Geography
  • World Politics
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Always wanted to be outside
  • Liked helping people
  • Played on a sports team
  • Was motivated by success
  • Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
  • Engaged in volunteer activities
  • Wasn't sure what I wanted to do

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