Sobhana Jaya-Madhavan

Sobhana Jaya-Madhavan

Associate Vice President, Simon Fraser University


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 in a sports arena 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.

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 the institutional lead for Women Deliver 2019.

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 an Advisory role for many organizations including TechDiva (India), AstraZeneca and Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival (Canada). Sobhana is a mentor for youth, professionals, and immigrants and has been a homestay parent for over 50 international students visiting Canada. Apart from public speaking, Sobhana who lives in Vancouver is a crypto enthusiast who loves traveling, writing poetry and enjoying life with her mother Subhadra and two sons, Prabhanj and Niranj.