In every industry, particularly in technology, diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical values. Despite our efforts, there is still a shortage of women in tech jobs in Canada and globally. For instance, women only make up about one-third of those studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in Canada and less than a quarter of tech jobs in the country.
In 2019, we launched our Women in Tech Road to Leadership events to highlight the challenges faced by women in the tech industry and explore methods to increase female representation. This year, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to convene in person for the first time! It’s incredibly inspiring to gather and listen to incredible women in tech as they share their personal stories, discuss the obstacles they’ve faced, and offer advice to other women.
In this article, we’ll be covering the key takeaways from our Fall Women in Tech event. We’ll delve into topics such as leadership, self-belief, and the importance of embracing mistakes.
Journey into the Tech World
At this year’s event, expertly moderated by the compelling Farah Nasser of Global National, we were honored to host a lineup of exceptional women who have carved out remarkable spaces in the tech world. Judy Dinn, the CIO of TD Bank AMCB, brought her vast experience and leadership insights. Eva Wong, the Co-founder and COO of Borrowell, shared her journey from startup to success. Johanne Duhaime, in her role as EVP of Technology and Projects at Desjardins, enlightened us on leading large tech projects. And Michon Williams, as the CTO of Walmart Canada, gave a unique perspective on tech’s role in retail transformation. These women presented a variety of unique experiences, challenges, and insightful expertise.
Joanne and Judy’s stories exemplify the idea that a passion for technology can lead to a successful career, regardless of one’s academic background. Joanne, despite her difficulties with math and dyslexia, unexpectedly discovered her interest in tech while working in bank operations. On the other hand, Judy’s natural aptitude for math propelled her toward a promising career in technology. Both women show that a passion for technology can fuel a fulfilling and lucrative career, regardless of the path taken. The takeaway? There is no one-size-fits-all in tech, and your journey is what you make of it.
The tech world isn’t just about coding and algorithms; it’s a testing ground for character. Overcoming obstacles, from personal challenges like dyslexia or grappling with the ever-present imposter syndrome, demonstrates the mettle of these tech mavens.
Michon added, “Technology is one of the greatest training grounds for resilience.” She also talked about lessons from a book named “The Obstacle is the Way,” championing the idea that failures aren’t failures but stepping stones towards resilience.
Confidence is a crucial aspect of the tech industry, and societal expectations and work obligations can make it difficult for women to feel self-assured. To build confidence in this field, it is essential to overcome obstacles, step out of one’s comfort zone, and seek guidance. These steps are particularly crucial for women, given the societal pressures they face.
Learning from Failures: A Pillar of Success
A theme that resonated deeply with the audience was that of failure. The panelists shared insightful personal experiences that underscored the importance of embracing failure as a learning opportunity rather than a setback. Notably, Judy stressed the subjectivity of the definition of failure, which varies from one individual to another. She recounted her personal experience as a developer, where she accidentally locked the core database of the bank system, leading to the entire bank shutting down. Initially, she anticipated getting fired, but her employers recognized the potential for learning from the experience. This incident marked a turning point in Judy’s perception of failure, as she realized that the most crucial aspect of failure is the lessons learned from it. As highlighted, “The obstacle is indeed the way.”
The Evolving Leadership Landscape
In a rapidly changing tech landscape, what does it mean to be a leader? While technical skills are a given, soft skills, adaptability, and genuine communication were underscored. The overarching message was clear: authentic leadership matters.
The job as a leader is to bring out the best in people so you achieve the best outcome.Judy Dinn
Leadership isn’t just about strategies and numbers; it’s deeply rooted in authenticity and understanding. Embracing an environment where one can genuinely express oneself emerged as a fundamental piece of advice for budding tech aspirants.
Work-Life Balance: The Delicate Dance
Balancing work and life is a challenge for everyone, not just those in tech. Eva shared a personal approach: “I apply a lot of business planning to my personal life. I ask myself, what’s important and what’s not? Just like I have business goals, I have personal goals, too. And I think it’s key to give time and energy to both equally.” For women leaders, who might be balancing parenting with important meetings, it’s especially tough. The answer? Set clear boundaries, talk openly about your needs, and most of all, let go of the guilt. Johanne gave some straightforward advice, “Stop striving for perfection. It doesn’t exist.” She talked about the pressure and guilt both women and men feel trying to balance work and personal life. Life isn’t about being perfect; it’s about finding a realistic balance.
The Women in Tech Road to Leadership event was truly insightful! Our phenomenal panelists discussed the complexities of leadership in the tech industry and shared some valuable tips with us. They stressed the significance of resilience, aligning personal and business goals, and prioritizing balance over perfection. Their main message was that leadership is a continuous process of learning and adaptation. If you want to gain a thorough understanding of their insightful perspectives and firsthand experiences, we recommend watching the complete event video below. You won’t regret it!
Haris is a Marketing Coordinator who thrives on building a brand and creating captivating marketing campaigns. With a particular affinity for social media, web management, and design, he brings a unique blend of creativity and skill to every project he takes on. Haris values collaboration and is committed to delivering exceptional results.
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Jarvis is a leading IT consulting firm headquartered in Canada that provides total talent solutions with ongoing partnerships across North America’s top financial institutions, cutting-edge startups, and major technology companies.
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