Women in Tech

Leadership During a Pandemic

Moderated by Tara Akhavan, CEO, Faurecia IRYStec

Sponsored By


The last year and a half brought more challenges to our world than anyone could have imagined. Our 2021 panelists, including a startup founder, a chief executive officer of a high tech company, and a business development manager for a worldwide materials engineering company, come together at Display Week 2021 to tell their stories about leading and managing during a time of unprecedented upheaval

Margaret Kocherga
Founder and CEO
Light and Charge Solutions

Margaret Kocherga is an award-winning early-stage entrepreneur. While originally from Ukraine, she finds joy in exploring other cultures as well. Kocherga is the founder and CEO of Light and Charge Solutions LLC, a startup founded in November of 2019 with a focus on production of materials for organic electronics. 2019 was also the year that Kocherga was recognized as an innovator by Charlotte's Inno Inaugural Under 25 program. With a Ph.D. in nanoscale science from UNC Charlotte; her main specialty is in the area of electron-transport materials for organic light-emitting diodes for lighting and displays. In addition to being a scientist, Kocherga is also a professional ballerina. Her career path's trajectory from the stage to the laboratory was the result of receiving a career-threatening injury. Impeded from dancing, she began her research in heavy-metal coordination chemistry during an undergraduate program, which led her to organic-inorganic hybrid materials for electronics. Overcoming hardships is something that she has learned to take in stride and use to fuel her success. Kocherga is currently participating in the entrepreneurial program Chain Reaction Innovations, in partnership with Argonne National Lab, to help accelerate her technology's market readiness. Her end goal is to help create a more sustainable future.

Christina Lampe-Onnerud
Founder and CEO
Cadenza Innovation, Inc.

Christina Lampe-Onnerud is renowned for developing and commercializing lithium-ion batteries for the portable electronics, transportation, utilities, and industrial markets. She currently serves as founder and CEO of Cadenza Innovation, a growth-stage company that has developed a novel, patented technology architecture – the ‘supercell’ – which is enabling a new generation of safer, higher energy-density, lower-cost batteries. Previously, Lampe-Onnerud was founder, CEO and international chairman of Boston-Power. She grew the battery startup into a global organization with $360+ million in funding, Beijing and Boston technology centers, and multiple Asia-based manufacturing locations. Earlier, Lampe-Onnerud held executive positions with Bridgewater Associates and Arthur D. Little, where she led the world’s largest non-captive battery lab. Lampe-Onnerud is the only two-time World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer in the program’s history and previously chaired WEF’s Global Future Council on Energy Technologies. A member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, she holds a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from Uppsala University, Sweden, and conducted post-doctoral work at MIT.

Asha Parekh
Manager, Strategic Marketing & Business Development
Applied Materials

Asha Parekh is a business development manager in Applied Materials’ Office of CTO, where she leads strategic marketing and business development efforts for a novel and disruptive approach to manufacturing microLED displays. Prior to joining Applied, she worked at BP’s Digital Innovation Organization and Office of CTO, where she scanned for new and emerging technologies from adjacent industries, helped accelerate adoption of digital technologies (e.g. unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for pipeline inspection, artificial intelligence (AI) for offshore equipment etc.), and managed several innovative proofs of concept/pilots. She was seconded as a product manager in Beyond Limits, a BP-invested AI start-up, where she developed the company's go-to-market strategy for the energy sector. Parekh has experience in wearable technology, unmanned aerial systems, equipment track and trace, and artificial intelligence, and has progressed several applications of these technologies from ideas to field deployment through innovative fast-fail approaches. She received her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from MIT, where her thesis was on novel magnetic nanoparticle-based technology for wastewater treatment. She also holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, where she focused on entrepreneurship, and a B.Tech in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. Outside of work, her interests include STEM volunteering, dancing, and reading.

Tara Akhavan, Ph.D.
CEO, Faurecia IRYStec

Tara Akhavan is a visionary award-winning technology entrepreneur and pioneer in the field of perceptual display processing for the consumer and automotive industry. She is the CEO of Faurecia IRYStec, Inc., (formerly known as IRYStec, Inc.), an innovation center that was acquired by Faurecia in April 2020. Tara founded IRYStec in 2015 and served as CTO for five years to introduce eye-friendly display technology to the automotive industry. She has a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, a master’s degree in artificial intelligence, and a Ph.D. in image processing and computer vision from Vienna University of Technology. Akhavan is the Canadian committee member for the International Committee for Illumination (CIE) and the marketing vice chair for the Society for Information Display. She was recognized as an Entrepreneur of the Year in 2019 by EoY Canada and as the founder of Top 20 Innovative Start-Ups in Canada in 2018 by CIX, Canada’s largest investor conference.