Driving Your Career

24 Hour Smart Mobility Competition

Did you know that there are more than 250 companies in Ontario working on advanced technologies such as self-driving cars? Our province is uniquely positioned as a world-leader in the automotive and smart mobility sector. We have a long history of automotive manufacturing, world-class academic institutions and a strong innovation ecosystem adding to our success. However, we need the next generation to help us solve emerging global challenges in this industry – like making transportation safer, more efficient, and better for the environment. To help you learn about all of the innovative and exciting opportunities that exist in Ontario, the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network will be hosting a 24-hour virtual career awareness competition with some amazing prizes up for grabs!

About the Competition 

The competition will run from Thursday, June 10th, 2021 at 12:00pm EST until Friday, June 11th, 2021 at 12:00pm EST.

There will be eight modules to complete, and points will be awarded for every question answered correctly. Bonus points will be up for grabs as well!

Registration deadline for the competition will be June 9th at 12:00pm EST.


We have a lot of fantastic prices up for grabs in the competition. These include:

Smart watches and Bluetooth speakers

A Skilled Trade's Apprentice's toolbox

Onsite visit to the Project Arrow Virtual Reality Cave. Experience the all-Canadian Zero Emissions Concept Vehicle in Virtual Reality in Windsor, Ontario.

Onsite visit to General Motors, Canadian Technical Centre, McLaughlin Advanced Technology Track facility in Oshawa, Ontario hosted by Ted Graham, GM's Head of Open Innovation. This will include a tour of the facility, including the engineering garage and look-out area of the track where engineers monitor the tests being conducted onsite. The student will also be invited to hop in the passenger seat of one of GM's vehicles for a 10-minute lap around this advanced technology track, where cutting-edge GM engineering work is taking place, right here in Canada.

Virtual 1-hour mentorship sessions with senior leaders in the industry where you can ask anything you want to learn about the incredible opportunities in the automotive and mobility sector.

PLEASE NOTE: The GM and APMA Project Arrow experiences are pending COVID-19 restirctions and lockdown orders and will take place when APMA and General Motors COVID-19 safety teams deems it's safe to do so (timing TBD).

Driving Your Career Afterparty + Panel Discussion

Join us on June 17th from 4-5pm, as we celebrate the closing of the first ever Driving Your Career competition by announcing the student winners! The event will include an exciting panel discussion between senior leaders shaping the automotive and mobility industry with the next generation currently working on and studying about the industry. Our discussion will be moderated by Petrina Gentile, an award-winning automotive journalist and one of the few women who covers cars in Canada. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to hear about how the sector is rapidly transforming and why pursuing a career in the area might be one worth considering.

All students participating in the competition will be automatically registered for the After Party. A link to join will be sent by email. For anyone else interested in joining please register here and details to join the event will be shared.

Moderator: Petrina Gentile Freelance Automotive Journalist, The Globe and Mail & CTV News Channel ("Up to Speed")

Petrina Gentile is a contributing writer for The Globe and Mail. She is an award-winning automotive journalist - one of the few women who cover cars in Canada. Her life revolves around wheels. She has been writing for the Drive section since 2004. Besides auto reviews, she also interviews celebrities like Norman Jewison, Patrick Dempsey, Rick Hansen, Dean McDermott, Russell Peters, and Ron MacLean for her My Car column.

In her spare time, she produces the national TV show Car/Business with Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan, broadcast weekly on CTV and BNN. She also appears regularly covering the automotive beat for CTV’s Canada AM, CTV News Channel, The Marilyn Denis Show, The Pattie Lovett-Reid Show, and BNN.

She has written several non-fiction books for kids including “Big Trucks, Big Wheels,” “Dirt Movers,” and “The Ballet School.” She’s still involved in the publishing world, acting as a consultant on the Superstar Cars series for Crabtree Publishing. Before focusing on cars, she was a news writer at CTV and a producer at BNN. She has a Masters Degree in Journalism from Carleton University and an Honours Bachelor of Arts in English Rhetoric and Professional Writing (co-op) from the University of Waterloo.

Maria Soklis, President, Cox Automotive Canada and Brazil

With almost 25 years of automotive industry experience in a wide variety of roles in 3 countries, Maria Soklis is the President of Cox Automotive Canada & Brazil.

Since being named President of Cox Automotive Canada in 2015, Maria has successfully led the organization to become one of Cox Automotive’s leading international markets and has significantly grown the business through the development and execution of its national business strategy and operations. While the business began with only the Manheim operation, Maria has been guiding the integration of 12 more brands, including NextGear Capital, Dealertrack, Dealer.com, Kelley Blue Book, Ready Logistics and others to help support a connected automotive ecosystem building transparency, efficiency and digitization for customers looking to thrive during times of significant transformation in the industry. Maria has also recently overseen the introduction of the Dealertrack organization in Brazil and is now leading the team responsible for building the Cox Automotive brand in this market.

With a team of nearly 1,000 employees across the country, Maria leads by example and has fostered a culture of bold creativity, innovative problem-solving and ego-free teamwork. With a background in Social Development and Social Work, her passion for community service drove her to also lead the organization’s CSR program, Cox  Cares, that includes initiatives like bringing like-minded partners and clients together for the first-ever Canadian Automotive Industry Build in support of Habitat for Humanity, and Cox Automotive Canada’s quarterly conference to encourage gender parity called Women With Drive. In 2020, Maria was also a driving force in the organization’s efforts to strengthen its inclusivity efforts and combat systemic racism through her support of the Black Employee Network and by being the Automotive Industry’s first leader to sign the BlackNorth Initiative’s CEO pledge. Maria also contributes regularly to the industry and government’s efforts to build diversity in the Automotive world.

Recently named an “Executive of the Year” by the Canadian Lenders Association and a “2020 All Star” by Automotive News, Maria’s personal achievements also include Outstanding Alumna, an Honorary Senior Fellowship and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for dedicated service to peers, community and Canada – but she is most proud of her team’s accomplishments. This was especially evident recently in what might be her proudest accomplishment with Cox Automotive Canada named one of Greater Toronto’s Top Employers for two consecutive years in 2020 and 2021. Maria lives the Cox Automotive core value to always do the right thing and encourages everyone around her to follow her lead every day.

Ted Graham, Head of Open Innovation, GM

Ted Graham is the Head of Open Innovation at General Motors (GM). In his role, Ted works with external partners to tackle important issues pertaining to the future of transportation. Before moving to GM, Ted was the Innovation Leader at PwC Canada. There he helped turn ideas into invoices. Ted also worked at McKinsey as a strategy consultant with a focus on understanding and leveraging people’s networks. His work helped to influence the spread of ideas.

Aside from his role at GM, he is also the founder of the South Core Innovation Hub- a collaborative group of innovation leaders from Toronto’s unique waterfront area. Member organizations of the hub include large banks, startups, and public transportation. All these organizations have a substantial impact on their communities.

Ted had worked as an UberX driver. He often speaks to audiences about the five points he learned about disruptive innovation during his Uber career. He is able to apply these lessons across a multitude of industries on the cusp of disruption. The five points were initially part of a viral LinkedIn influencer post. Ted was able to transform his viral knowledge into a book, The Uber of Everything, that was released in 2015.

Sri Anumakonda, 14-year-old Self-Driving Car Enthusiast at The Knowledge Society

Sri Anumakonda is a 14-year old innovator working on solving the problem of autonomous vehicles and pushing self-driving cars into the industry. He's built projects such as a real self-driving car and is currently working on creating a paper on state-of-the-art methods for lane detection in messy conditions. He's also extremely passionate about Artificial Intelligence and other technologies such as Quantum Computing and how they'll play an integral role in the technological revolution.

Dua Abdelqader, Research and Insight Specialist, AVIN

Dua Abdelqader is a Research and Insight Specialist with the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) at the Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI). She leads the research for the skills and talent strategy and the development of specialized insights for the automotive and mobility sector in Ontario.

Dua holds a master’s degree in Civil Engineering with a concentration in Transport Planning. Over the past 10 years, she has worked in the Middle East and North America as a researcher, transport planner and consultant on a wide range of mobility-related projects including multi-modal strategic plans, policy and regulatory frameworks, and smart mobility infrastructure and deployment guidelines.