This year marked the second edition of the B.C. Business, 2021 Women of the Year Awards. Each year, female leaders, innovators and difference makers who play a vital role in building a better and more prosperous B.C. are celebrated. The 17 finalists represent B.C. Business in all its dynamism and diversity, from big corporations and small nonprofits to established companies and small scale startups. Each finalist, has a remarkable story of beating the odds to make their innovative product a worldwide success, finding new ways to help the most vulnerable or blazing their own trail in a male-dominated industry.
We are thrilled to announce that this year, our CEO Sandra Phillips was one of the women recognized for her inspirational and trail-blazing work in the shared transportation industry, winning this year’s Change Maker Award.
B.C BUSINESS 2021 | CHANGE MAKER AWARD WINNER: SANDRA PHILLIPS
INTERVIEW WITH B.C BUSINESS
Change Maker Award | It sounds like hyperbole to say that Sandra Phillips got in on the ground floor of Canada’s smart transportation movement, but it really isn’t. The Switzerland native hadn’t been in Vancouver very long when she got a job as Car2Go’s first local employee (she was the company’s seventh North American staff member).
Her mission was to find out if the German car share service could work in her new hometown. Along the way, her role changed a few times (being able to speak German meant she was something of a natural Canadian liaison to head office), but her passion for connecting people and vehicles in new ways never waned.
“My heart was in launching new services, partly because I grew up in a small town of 10,000 people where I could get from anywhere up to the mountains without having a car,” Phillips says of Villmergen, which is about 20 minutes outside Zurich. “It was all seamlessly connected, whether it was a gondola or a ferry, a train or a bus, all connected through one fare card.”
In 2014, Phillips founded movmi, a mobility consultant that works with public sector clients (TransLink and various municipalities) and organizations like Evo Car Share, Vancouver Bike Share (Mobi) and BCAA to help them build out their transportation infrastructure.
“When we launched Car2Go, I would go to parties and tell people what I did and get blank stares, people going, What are you talking about?” she recalls. “Eventually, people started coming to those parties in Car2Gos. That shift can happen if you create reliable supply and reliable services.”
Vancouver-based movmi often serves as a go-between for those public entities and the car, bike or scooter share outfits in a bid to create that reliability and seamless transport for the consumer. “It’s the classic Swiss joke, but we’re essentially the neutral party in between,” Phillips laughs.
On a more serious note, she argues that, with all the new technologies that are becoming available in the transportation space, there are some know-ledge gaps in how to properly apply those innovations. “A lot of traditional transportation engineers and urban planners don’t know what to do with all of this,” she maintains. “How do you tackle it and use it in a way that’s beneficial to the community? So apart from last year, we’ve had work for the last seven years.”
COVID-19 saw Phillips shrink her workforce as things dried up temporarily, but movmi is now up to four full-time and two part-time staff from its pre-pandemic count of 10.
“We have to continue to make the ecosystem more reliable, and bring in the latest and greatest when it makes common sense. Kick scooters aren’t really a solution when you don’t have a safe bike lane to ride in.”
WOMEN IN SHARED MOBILITY
We are so proud of Sandra’s achievements within the transportation sector. Not only is she a true change-maker within the field but she is a trail-blazer and an inspirational figure for women within the industry. Over the last five years, Sandra has conducted interviews with key female players in the sector and have used our website and social media channels as platform so that their voices can be heard. Sandra also created movmi’s ‘Empower Women in Shared Mobility Program.’ The goal of the program is to highlight and promote the majority female-lead companies in the space and to choose a winner, that receives a full year of mentoring, networking and PR opportunities. We truly believe that by championing a more diverse and inclusive, next generation of mobility leaders, Sandra and the team at movmi, can help build a more equitable transportation network in the future.