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Heather Holden
Investment Counsellor and Discretionary Portfolio Manager , UBS Bank, Wealth Management
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Investment specialist with PhD in science & technology and expertise in governance.

-Past professor of remote sensing, GIS, spatial & spectral statistics
-Founded & built investment management practice
-Shortlisted astronaut candidate
-International Aid Volunteer
-Elected Vancouver municipal politician
-Board of Directors experience since 2005
Send email Contact Heather Holden
Area of Expertise:
  • Environment, Climate, Energy, Water, Sanitation
  • Fundraising, Business Development, Grants Writer
Professional Experience:
My accumulated experience has taught me how to excel on teams, how to apply my natural curiosity to analyze effectively, and how to communicate well. I believe these and other experiences and skills are transferrable to a variety of sectors and organizations.

You’re probably wondering why a person with my background is interested in changing careers and working internationally in the development realm. First of all, my career ambition was always to be an astronaut (hence the space science PhD and commercial pilot’s licence) but when that rocket left the station without me, I changed my investing hobby into a profession (truth be told, with the intention of buying my way into space).

Now, after ten years in science and technology followed by ten years in business, I am driven to be a part of a team that works together to address complex and vitally important issues. I thrive in situations that are uncertain, love finding order amongst chaos, and need to be a part of something important.

I have a rare combination of experience that has honed my oral and written communication skills. I have a long list of publications, but what people tell me they value is my ability to translate complex topics effectively for different audiences. All of my professional experiences have been based on my proficiency in communications: academics, non-profit organization management, elected municipal politics, Board of Directors group decision-making, and building my own personal finance business.

I work hard to stay constantly vigilant of interpersonal and team dynamics for optimal performance. I place very high value on my ability to be a good team member. My primary hobby is competitive international rowing. My crew, consisting of 4 rowers and 1 coxswain all of whom are driven professional women, has been together for years because we understand the responsibility and benefits of team membership. I consider myself an essential team member for my client families, for the Boards I serve, and for my colleagues.

My analytical skills have been regularly tested and proven through peer reviewed scientific publications based on field data collection and statistical analysis, positive family wealth management outcomes, business success, and productive group decision making on Boards.

Flexibility and adaptability are innate characteristics I possess built from a childhood of moving nearly annually until high school, which taught me that unpredictable situations are not to be feared and that wonderful learning is gained from new communities and environments.

I have a proven ability to learn and would say I even have a need to learn. It is rare for a year to go by without me investing time and resources in a professional development course related to work, sports, or Board governance.

In summary, I consider myself a conscientious, focused, detail-oriented, and determined individual who thrives in team environments.
I have a PhD from the University of Waterloo, Faculty of Environmental Studies, Department of Geography with a research focus using satellite remote sensing to quantify change over time in ecosystem health as a function of environmental change. Remote sensing is an example of a big data challenge and my solution was to use statistical tools such as principal component analysis to separate the signal from the noise.

I was responsible for all aspects of research program design, from concept and hypothesis development, to literature review, proposal writing and budget development, fund raising, team building, field work implementation, data analysis and publication, and finally to ongoing communication of results to diverse audiences over the course of 10 years. My ground truthing field work has been in such countries as Fiji, Indonesia, and Malaysia and involved collecting underwater spectral measurements and optical water attenuation profiles while scuba diving. I lived in Singapore and worked as a Professor of Geography at the National University of Singapore and lead field research teams from multiple institutions.

When I returned to Canada, my education continued, but in a professional work environment with formal learning in business and management on the side. I worked at the Vancouver Aquarium, first as the Director of Research Programs and then as the Executive Director of POST (a consortium of international scientists tracking salmon migration using underwater acoustic remote sensing infrastructure that POST funding enabled).

My career ambition was to be an astronaut with the Canadian Space Agency. After being shortlisted, but not selected, I embarked on a career change and converted a hobby into an entrepreneurial endeavor, which required extensive education in economics, markets, portfolio building, financial planning and also education related to the practical elements of building and running an investment practice. I’ve built a successful investment management business thanks to a fabulous team of focused professionals to provide such services as family business governance and global investment portfolios.

My board experience and education began in 2005 when I was elected at-large to Vancouver’s municipal government as Chair of the Vancouver Park Board. Since then I’ve always sat on at least one Board at any time, serving Provincial Crown corporations, post-secondary institutions, foundations, and operating not-for-profits.
I have invested significantly in my governance education, most recently graduating from the Directors Education Program (DEP), jointly developed by the Institute of Corporate Directors and the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.
My extensive experience and education in governance allows me to contribute to excellent group decision making at the senior management level and to the perpetual improvements all great organizations engage in to improve their practices.
Available for:
  • Consulting assignments
  • Job opportunities
  • Being headhunted – make me an offer

    Years of Experience:
    15-20 years
    Highest Qualification:
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