Roma Khanna, 36 Senior vice-president of content, CHUM Television, Toronto
BY SALEM ALATON
It was while toiling in the legal and business affairs department of Sony Music Canada that Roma Khanna got caught up in the revolution.
German engineering had created a way to compress enormous amounts of audio data into readily transferable computer files. That might have made MP3 sound like a police technology, but young people had other things in mind. And so did Ms. Khanna.
"It wasn't something that everyone really understood, but it just really clicked with me," says Ms. Khanna, who came to CHUM in 2003 as vice-president of interactive media after producing cross-media editions of television programs such as Degrassi: The Next Generation and Fashion Television at Toronto's Snap Media.
The MP3 revelation didn't send Ms. Khanna scurrying to download Metallica but it did underline that entertainment industry products were about to start ricocheting around the known universe on fast-changing, multiple-access platforms. In jumping to Snap she netted three Gemini awards for http://www.Degrassi.tv, winning over adolescent eyeballs as well as hard hearts sheathed in Hugo Boss.
The Toronto-raised daughter of parents who came from India in 1965, Ms. Khanna brought a daunting level of drive to the table, with law degrees in Canada and the U.S. to complement her MBA from York University's Schulich School of Business. Fret about having to watch Stanley Kubrick films on a cellphone and she gets impatient.
"The content needs to adapt for the media," says Ms. Khanna, named last year by Variety and The Hollywood Reporter as one of the top female executives to watch in the entertainment industry. "You make content mobile [if]there's something about it that's better mobile."
CHUM Television -- with CityTV as the name leading its dozen local television stations and MuchMusic among its 21 specialty channels -- saw a kindred soul in Ms. Khanna, not to mention someone still young enough to qualify as a wunderkind.
"We're the most progressive broadcaster in North America, hands down," Ms. Khanna declares. "They hired me -- that's not a traditional choice."
Her responsibilities range from program acquisition and licensing to overseeing independent production, in-house production and, of course, the interactive division. She also manages to sit on boards for the Telefilm Canada New Media Fund, NextMedia, Canadian Women in Communications, the National Association of Television Program Executives and the Canadian Film Centre, among others.
And there's nothing like a good upbringing: "I have very strong, smart, supportive, loving parents who have always expected me to do my best, not someone else's best."
They could scarcely have known how much they were asking.
James Dean, 39 President and chief executive officer, DPoint Technologies Inc., Vancouver
BY MICHAEL RYVAL
James Dean had his first exposure to the fuel cell industry in 1998 when he moved to Vancouver to run KPMG's consulting practice and landed Ballard Power Systems Inc. as a client.
"What excited me was the social good it could bring by introducing environmentally friendly technologies to the world," says Mr. Dean, a Toronto native who has a Bachelor of Engineering degree from the University of Waterloo and an MBA from the University of Western Ontario. "You can not only be socially responsible but also successful from a business perspective."
And so began an association with fuel cells that has seen Mr. Dean involved in three different companies. He got his feet wet when he and business partner David Chapman, an investment banker, took a stake in Greenlight Power Technologies Inc., a firm based in Sydney, B.C.
But in January, 2001, his career took another twist when the company was acquired by its closest rival, Hydrogenics Corp of Mississauga, Ont. In the process, it moved to Vancouver and was responsible for making test equipment. Annual sales grew to $27-million as auto manufacturers such as Toyota and Nissan flocked to the division.
In 2004, bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, Mr. Dean went on his own and set up DPoint. He focused on an aspect of fuel cell technology known as humidification, as many industry players complained that the existing products were too large, too expensive or performed poorly. DPoint's products humidify the air stream that is passed through a fuel cell to improve its performance and reliability.