President and CEO, Norsat International Inc.
WHAT SETS HER APART
Amiee is responsible for a 25% expansion of Norsat, and 40% expense reduction
Total awards received: 11, including Canada’s Top 3 Female Entrepreneurs—Profit/Chatelaine
Number of senior leaders who report to her: 13
Joe Fikart, who has worked extensively in the field of microwave radio and earth stations for satellite communications, first at MPR Teltech and later at Norsat International Inc.
From Joe Fikart
As told to Hailey Eisen
In 1989 Amiee was a co-op student with MPR, the research arm of the British Columbia Telephone Company, where I worked as the manager of an engineering group. It wasn’t until three years later that I really noticed Amiee’s unique abilities. I was teaching at the University of British Columbia and she was a student in my class. In 1992, in her final year of a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, Amiee was among a handful of female students studying in this stream. She was a pioneer—even back then—and in a large class, she ranked in the top five.
Upon graduating, Amiee joined my group at MPR where we worked on a number of projects in satellite communications. In 1996, MPR was dissolved by BC Tel and sold off in parts. Our group was first purchased by a company in Winnipeg, and then, two years later, sold to Norsat International Inc. It was at Norsat where Amiee remained and rose through the ranks.
In 2006, at 38 years old, Amiee was appointed CEO. She succeeded over a number of presidents, all men.
With an electrical engineering PhD in Satellite Communications and an Executive MBA with a focus on strategy and new ventures, Amiee possessed elite technical skills and superior business acumen. A little over a year after she took over as CEO, Norsat Operations were back in the profit column. Today it ranks among the top technology companies in Canada and has been named one of the fastest growing companies in BC.
Because Amiee is among the few women who have risen to leadership positions within this field, and because she looks young for her age, she’s often struggled to be taken seriously. Her ambition and optimism, though, have gone a long way toward helping her realize success. I can recall in 1997 when Amiee, still early in her career, offered to take on one of the projects that was really giving me trouble. At 29 years old, she looked quite young and had a vibrant, bubbly personality, so her colleagues were surprised when they realized she was the project manager. But appearance can be deceiving and amiee proved very quickly to be a very effective leader. The initiative Amiee took in this case launched her career.
If all of this isn’t enough, Amiee also makes time to sit on a number of boards and work with numerous mentoring organizations including the Ms. Infinity program of the Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology. And, every Wednesday for nearly 20 years, the mother of two has put on skates and taken to the ice, where she plays centre or right wing in a women’s hockey league in Burnaby, BC.