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Christelle Wanko

Christelle Wanko

Graduate Diploma in Management (2015)

My love for math and physics prompted me to do my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Polytechnique Montréal, which I completed in 2008. Upon graduating, I received the Leonardo da Vinci award for excellence. I continued my education at Purdue University in the U.S. with a master’s degree in aeronautics. My first job was at Cummins, a manufacturer of diesel engines, as a structural analysis engineer. I decided to move back to Montreal in 2013 and signed up for the graduate diploma in management at HEC Montréal. I joined Siemens Canada in July 2015 as a test engineer and project manager.

What are you doing to help change the world?

I’m originally from Cameroon, where changing the world means “paying it forward.” I’m very aware of how lucky I’ve been to study in Canada and develop my knowledge in my chosen field and in the community as well. My approach to changing the world is to use what I have learned to give back to my community. As a result, I teamed up with Cindy Mbayen and Ariane Kouamou to create a non-profit organization known as Action MAPLE to fight against poverty through engagement, support and advocacy efforts. Our first undertaking to improve living conditions in Cameroon has been to develop a product that makes it easy to cook food in a safe, healthy way. That was the motivation behind the creation of the “Wanda” stove, which uses wood or ecological coal as a fuel source. By making the stove available at a low price, we are trying to change the lives and living conditions of African women in rural and urban communities. A pilot project is currently underway to roll out this solution in Cameroon.


To what do you attribute the success of your career path?

I’d say the key to my success has been passion. I love what I do. I’m inquisitive by nature and I’m not afraid to embark on new adventures. I have nothing to lose. I forge ahead and chase my dreams. I live by the motto “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” My influences include inspiring leaders such as Laura Weidman Powers, the CEO of CODE2040. When I get a project off the ground, I always do everything in my power to achieve my objective, even when things go wrong along the way. I don’t let myself get down and I never give up.


How did your time at HEC Montréal help you or give you the tools to overcome the challenges you encountered along the way?

I knew I was in the right place when I was at HEC Montréal. With the concepts I learned in business startups, negotiations, small business administration and operational management, I was able to create Action MAPLE. Through HEC Montréal, I met amazing people who sparked my passion – people like Christian Dussart and Claude Ananou. It was an incredible gift to be able to turn to professionals of their calibre for advice. When I won the “Entreprendre le changement” competition, it gave me the confidence I needed to create a social enterprise. I would definitely recommend HEC Montréal to anyone looking to explore new career horizons.

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