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Big Ideas: Leading the Way to Gold in the Mine, on the Pitch, and in the Markets February 14, 2018

No matter the brilliance of an idea or invention, there’s a big gap between inspiration and successful execution.

Narrowing that gap has been both a career focus and a pastime for Sonia Sennik (B.Eng. ‘08, Eng. Physics) over the last decade.

Joining the consulting firm Hatch after graduation, Sennik spent almost 10 years working on major capital projects worth up to $500 million for some of the world’s largest mining and metals companies. As engineering manager and project manager, she led multi-disciplinary teams responsible for shepherding process innovations from idea to implementation.

“I really loved working as a team to build things that had never been created before,” she says.

Her experience in bringing innovation to life is serving her well as she settles into a new position as the inaugural executive director of the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL). Using an objectives-based coaching and mentoring process, CDL offers an eight-week program to help entrepreneurs commercialize science and technology advances.

Founded at the Rotman School of Management, where Sennik recently earned an MBA, the Creative Destruction Lab is currently operating across five Canadian universities, with plans for further expansion.

The position is an exciting one that lines up with her values, she says. “The energy here is really infectious. It’s great to see all these fresh ideas walk through the door.”

Away from work, Sennik has brought her search for success to the sidelines of the rugby pitch, where she coaches young women in a game that requires a vast amount of teamwork and cooperation under pressure.

“The lessons that you learn on the rugby pitch are applicable to everyday life,” says Sennik, a 2004 OUA All-Star and former captain of McMaster’s varsity women’s rugby team. “I love the spirit of the game and the camaraderie, and my engineering brain really enjoys the strategy and technical side of it.”

In 2016, Sennik became the first female head coach of the Rugby Ontario Senior Women’s team. Under her leadership, the team captured gold at the 2017 Canadian Rugby Championships.

“My aspiration is to inspire more women to get involved in coaching, leadership and administration of the sport,” she says.

Her ability to inspire others earned recognition recently, when Sennik was awarded the inaugural Rotman Social Impact Award in 2017. The award is given to a student who embodies a social justice ideal and has contributed to deeper understanding around equity and diversity in the workplace.

Sennik is also a member of the board of directors of ParticipACTION, a non-profit organization focused on encouraging Canadians to become more physically active.

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