ESTEVAN — One of Saskatchewan's top innovators, Dr. Aaron Genest – the president and founder of SaskTech and the representative for Siemens Software – will be in Estevan next week to talk to the community about technology and innovations.
The second Innovation Conversation, presented by the Southeast Techhub, Southeast College and Access Now TV, is titled Estevan is Leading, Saskatchewan Needs to Follow. The meeting will touch on how Estevan's innovation can be a model for Western Canada. The event will take place at the college’s Estevan campus at 7 p.m. on April 26, the same day as the Career Day and Hiring Fair, scheduled from 1-6:30 p.m.
Tania Hlohovsky Andrist, the lead officer of applied research at the Southeast College's Centre of Sustainable Innovation, said Genest was "so willing" to come to Estevan, which is a testament to his desire to share his belief that Saskatchewan can be an innovation hub and so could Estevan.
"When we first connected with Dr. Genest, he had already heard of some of the things going on in Estevan, some of the successes with the coal transition projects, and some of the innovative projects going on with Southeast College," Hlohovsky Andrist said. "His enthusiasm for Estevan was so nice to hear because he was reflecting back on ourselves. [To hear] that Estevan is so innovative, Estevan has got really exciting things happening down there, was really refreshing. And [to know] that we are making a bit of a splash in other parts of the province was really encouraging."
Genest is a Saskatchewan product who founded SaskTech in 2018. SaskTech is an industry advisory association of more than 150 organizations and businesses with corporate offices in Saskatchewan. Its goal is to address the technology labour shortage by working with government, educational institutions and support agencies to ensure a robust labour force for technology and digital industries over this century.
Genest is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan, the former director of customer experience at Solido, and is now an applications engineering manager at Siemens Software after the acquisition of Solido.
He is an advocate for the tech sector in Canada in his role as president of SaskTech and an advisor to universities, colleges and government on topics related to technology labour, intellectual property and workforce training. Prior to his life in technology, he was a professional touring musician for 10 years. He lives and works in Saskatoon.
The Estevan Innovation Council, Southeast Techhub and Southeast College came across Genest when they were looking for the second speaker for the Innovation Conversation series.
"He's a dynamic speaker. He's an interesting person. He's so passionate about innovation and about our province that we felt that it would be really great for the community to hear him speak," Hlohovsky Andrist explained. "He has such a high opinion of our community … And he's very connected to the international tech world, innovation and discovery, to inventions and current things happening in the greater world."
Genest has been involved with some energy and energy transition projects, and Hlohovsky Andrist noted that as someone who is well-educated and well-spoken, he can reflect the Estevan community back to the audience in a way that may help to see it in a different light.
She added that the event will be interesting for young people and adults alike.
"Coming to hear Dr. Genest would be a perfect, perfect opportunity for young people if they're not sure about a career in technology, if they're not sure about where they can point themselves in the future, " Hlohovsky Andrist said. "And if someone's looking for a new career, or someone is looking for things that are happening on the horizon, we encourage them to come as well."
The event is free of charge, but organizers ask the public to register in advance on Southeast Techhub's website. People can attend in person or online. To watch virtually, people can go to YouTube on April 26 at 6:45 p.m.