Born in Malaysia and raised in India, Sobhana has an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from Calicut University (Kerala, India) and a postgraduate degree in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Mumbai, India). Sobhana completed her Ph.D. candidacy in Child and Youth Care from the University of Victoria (BC, Canada). Since 1991, Sobhana has worked in the non-profit, public and private sectors in India, Malaysia, and Canada.
After immigrating to Canada in 1995, Sobhana worked in a minimum wage job at GM Place before joining the British Columbia (BC) Government and serving in various front line and senior management positions (including Executive Director and Acting Assistant Deputy Minister) over two decades. In 2015, Sobhana was nominated for the BC Medal of Good Citizenship award which recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the well-being of their communities. In 2019, Sobhana received the Woman of the Decade Award for being an education champion.
“In addition to academic excellence, we greatly honor the empathetic leadership of Sobhana Jaya-Madhavan. With her vital values of community connection and humanitarian outreach, she has enriched the education ecosystem with exemplary leadership toward creating a better world for all,” Harbeen Arora, global chairperson, WEF and All Ladies League (ALL).
From 2015-17, Sobhana worked at NewGen KnowledgeWorks (Chennai, India) as Head HR and Associate Vice President. At NewGen Sobhana championed organizational excellence. In 2017, Sobhana returned to Canada and joined Simon Fraser University (SFU) as Associate Vice President, External Relations. In this senior leadership role, Sobhana engages with all levels of government, international/national/provincial/local organizations, internal/external partners and diverse communities to strengthen strategic relationships, provide strategic advice and work on shared goals. At SFU, Sobhana is also the co-facilitator for the Indigenous reconciliation initiative and was the institutional lead for Women Deliver 2019. Sobhana also works closely with SFU's senior executive team on various issues and initiatives including equity, diversity and inclusion.
Sobhana has been a volunteer since the age of 16 when she became President of the Rotaract Club in her home town Palakkad, in Kerala, India. Since then she has volunteered for the Guild of Service, Aga Khan Foundation and many other organizations in Canada and India. Sobhana has also played/plays an Advisory role for many organizations including HashHackCode and TechDiva (India), AstraZeneca and Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival (Canada). She currently is part of The Inclusion Project board (BC).
Sobhana is also a mentor for youth, professionals, immigrants and refugees and has been a homestay parent for over 50 international students visiting Canada. Sobhana lives in Burnaby with her two sons and mother.
Photo courtesy of Twitter.