June 7, 2022

UCalgary alumna Monika Tamber a finalist for Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards

Cybersecurity expert hopes to inspire others with her story
Schulich alumna Monika Tamber has been nominated for the Canadian Immigrant Awards. Courtesy Monika Tamber

Monika Tamber believes in the adage, “If you can see it, you can be it.” 

Born in rural India, she has persevered through many challenges to become a professional engineer, cybersecurity leader, and diversity and equity ambassador. The University of Calgary alumna, BSc (Eng)’04, is also one of the 75 finalists for this year’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards.

“This is a huge honour,” Tamber says. “If I win, I hope it will encourage other young immigrants to keep going and pushing through the hard times in pursuit of their dreams.”

Also finalists for this year's awards with a connection to UCalgary are:

  • Dr. Janaka Ruwanpura, UCalgary's vice-provost and associate vice-president research (international)
  • Doctoral candidate Pam Farrell, in the Werklund School of Education
  • Schulich School of Engineering professor Dr. Wael Badawy, PhD

Life-changing experience

When Tamber was seven, she was adopted by her uncle’s family and immigrated to Canada.

Settling in Calgary, she remembers the challenges of fitting in and being seen for more than her upbringing. But she also switched schools 11 times by the time she was in Grade 11 as she lived with many relatives while she was growing up.

In Grade 11, she was first introduced to engineering after her physics teacher recommended a Schulich School of Engineering open house led by WISE (Women In Science and Engineering) Planet.

“It was very timely because I was thinking about what I wanted to do after high school,” Tamber says.

That day, I learned about the impact you can make by being an engineer and I was hooked.

That impact was highlighted in some of her most vivid memories of the event — seeing one professor trying to power villages in Nepal using old exercise bikes to generate electricity, and another working with Nike on designing shoes that have less impact on joints.

“It was an eye-opener for me because I wanted to make an impact and bring about change,” Tamber says. “In the years that followed, I had a wonderful experience learning from many great professors and acquiring the vital skills I needed to have a successful career.”

Lifelong learner

Since graduating, Tamber has had a highly successful career working with big brands like Rogers Communications and Bank of Montreal.

She’s also been recognized in a number of ways, including being named one of Canada’s Top 20 Women in Cybersecurity and the winner of the 2021 Schulich Diversity and Equity Alumni Award.

“The biggest lesson I have learned over the years is that to be successful in a career in the 21st century, you need to be a lifelong learner,” Tamber says. “An engineering degree has been a foundation for me in realizing that you can learn any technology, programming language or skill, if you are willing to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.”

She says there is a sense of fulfillment in learning and growing her skillsets.

“Being one of the few females in my classes, I also gained the confidence to believe in myself and embrace my unique point of view,” Tamber says. “Over the years, I have been able to take risks and work in many different industries because of the solid foundation that I built early in my career.”

Investing in yourself

Gratitude is a word that comes to mind for Tamber as she thinks about being named a finalist for the Canadian Immigrant Awards, presented by Canadian Immigrant magazine.

She takes a lot of pride in empowering women and youth through her mentoring and speaking work, as she hopes to inspire them by sharing her message that hard work pays off.

“Think of your education as an investment that you make in yourself,” Tamber says. “It really is the best thing you can do for your future.”

The public can now vote for up to three of their favourite finalists online between now and June 10, 2022.

The 25 winners will be announced on CanadianImmigrant.ca in July and featured in a future issue of Canadian Immigrant magazine.