Alumni Perspective Story- From Electrical Engineering to the Federal Government of Canada

Yasaman Best graduated from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UBC with a biomedical specialization in 2011 and continued her studies to pursue a Master’s in Software Systems. Yasaman currently works as an IT Team Lead for the Federal Government of Canada (Department of National Defence). 

Learn more about Yasaman’s experience at ECE, her current work for the Federal Government of Canada, and advice for ECE students! 

Why did you choose ECE? 

Choosing electrical engineering as a woman offers a unique opportunity to challenge stereotypes and contribute to a field that is constantly evolving. As a person with disabilities, pursuing a minor in the biomedical option not only expands one’s knowledge but also provides a pathway to understanding and developing assistive devices that can positively impact lives. This combination allows for both personal and professional growth, empowering individuals to make meaningful contributions to technology and society.

What was your student experience like while in ECE? 

During my time at UBC, I had the privilege of encountering incredibly accommodating professors who supported my academic journey every step of the way. The UBC disability office played a crucial role in ensuring my success by providing accommodations such as hiring an assistant to write notes for me during class, which greatly facilitated my learning experience. Their dedication to inclusivity and accessibility truly made a difference. Overall, UBC proved to be a wonderful school, not only for its academic excellence but also for its commitment to fostering an inclusive environment where every student can thrive.

Where was your favourite place on campus? 

Kaiser building! It’s so modern and accessible. I spent hours there studying with my classmates. 

How did you get to where you are now?

Despite the life-altering car accident in 2002 that left me quadriplegic, I remained determined to pursue my academic goals. I successfully completed my undergraduate studies in electrical engineering with a biomedical option and went on to earn my Masters in computer systems. Throughout this journey, my friend, who has served as both a guide and mentor, suggested exploring career opportunities within the federal government due to their strong commitment to inclusion. Following this advice, I applied for a developer position and after passing rigorous technical assessments and interviews, was added to the pool of candidates. A month later, receiving the call from my manager offering me the job was a moment of immense pride and accomplishment. With the unwavering support of my husband, we made the decision to embark on a new chapter in Ottawa, where both of our careers could flourish.

What do you enjoy most about your career? 

As the IT Team Lead for the federal government, I find immense satisfaction in knowing that my work directly benefits Canadians. Whether it’s improving digital services for citizens, ensuring the security of sensitive information, or implementing innovative technologies to enhance efficiency, every task I undertake has a tangible impact on the lives of individuals across the country. This sense of purpose and responsibility makes my role incredibly rewarding, as I play a vital part in contributing to the well-being and prosperity of fellow Canadians through the power of technology.

What are some challenges you have faced in your career?   

Navigating accessibility challenges as a quadriplegic has been a significant aspect of my journey. However, I’ve been fortunate to have managers who consistently go above and beyond to accommodate my needs. Their unwavering support, coupled with the federal government’s steadfast commitment to inclusion, has provided me with a sense of assurance and empowerment. Knowing that there is a dedicated effort to ensure accessibility and support for individuals like myself within the organization has been invaluable. It underscores the importance of fostering an inclusive work environment where everyone, regardless of their abilities, can thrive and contribute meaningfully.

Do you have any advice or suggestions for ECE students

My advice to fellow students with disabilities is never to allow your condition to hinder your pursuit of your goals. Before embarking on your academic journey, it’s crucial to reach out to the disability office at your institution to explore the various accommodations available to you. Communication is key; make sure to regularly engage with your professors to discuss your specific needs and how they can best support you throughout your studies. Remember, your disability does not define you, and with determination and the right support system in place, success is entirely within reach. Additionally, UBC stands out as an excellent engineering school, offering a supportive environment conducive to academic achievement and personal growth.