Many industries, specifically tech, have long been known for a lack of gender equality. The good news is, it’s slowly changing – across all industries. This past year we saw Unilever reach gender balance across their management team of 14,000, NASA’s first all-female space walk, a record-breaking year for women in sport and so many other female accomplishments in general. We recognize there is still a lot of work to be done within the tech industry, and the world as a whole. That’s why it’s important to highlight and celebrate some amazing Sensibill women we’re grateful to call our own.
Sensibill has strongly valued diversity and inclusion from the beginning and recognized the impact that diversity of thought and difference in perspective can have on our company and community at large. Just like last year, we sat down with five female powerhouses that belong to the Sensibill family.
Hear how they have navigated the tech industry and a few lessons they’ve learned along the way…
VP of Client Success
Can you tell us about your career journey and how you ended up in tech?
I’ve always been fascinated by the origins of tech companies and their impact on how we live and work. My father owned a small computer store and I enjoyed watching him build machines that helped businesses in our town run more efficiently. In high school, I spent a summer filing paperwork at Oracle and I was awestruck by just being there. After graduating university, I joined Hewlett-Packard, where I spent 10 great years. At HP, I was surrounded by brilliant leaders who helped identify and further develop my strengths as a client-focused operator. Most recently, and initially through my own consultancy, I worked with some interesting Toronto-based startups. Young tech companies offer an interesting view of how to solve significant problems, rather quickly.
What has been the hardest thing to overcome in your career?
Imposter syndrome is a challenge I continuously have to overcome. Understanding my actual versus perceived limitations and strengths keeps me up at night. Experience, reflection and a network of other female and male leaders has certainly helped me identify when I’m being unfair to myself and has encouraged my continued advancement.
Any words of advice for other women with a passion for technology?
Find your people. Connecting with people that encourage, support and motivate you is invaluable. Your people will help you identify and achieve goals you never even considered. They will even help you in the face of adversity. It may take a few iterations as you grow, but your people will be there for you when you end a career relationship, when you are faced with a significant barrier or when you want to understand your options. They know you as a person and want to help you become the best you can be and that effort is reciprocal.
Production Support Engineer
When did you realize you wanted to be an engineer?
It all happened in a very organic way. I want to say in grade twelve of high school. Before that I was dead set on going into law but I was taking all these science courses when my teacher said,”why not pursue that?”. I have always been a problem solver and loved technology so I saw this as an opportunity to dig deeper into what that meant. You don’t realize how your skills can be applied in so many different fields.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career so far?
I’ve learned that anyone can do anything as long as you put your mind to it. I personally don’t think you’re born into a certain set of skills. In my career, I started off working in a more technical role. From there, I did more dev work and then moved to a business analyst role where I was then working with traders and in finance. Learning just comes naturally to me. If you’re open to it, you can become what you want to be and grow the way you want to.
What do you love about design?
I love the multiple dimensions to the discipline—it’s both strategically and artistically driven, so there’s a lot to experiment with and be challenged with. I also enjoy applying design principles to other mediums and vice versa; for example, I can use the building blocks of photography, like composition, to inform my designs. I feel really energized when I’m able to make those connections.
How do you find designing for tech?
I didn’t study design nor have I worked in tech before, so both are new, exciting realms. In general, I try to examine the context of deliverables before building anything, which helps me find creativity within useful boundaries. There’s also some standardization design-wise within the industry, so it’s great to have a foundation to refer to while finding ways to differentiate from that.
You started at Sensibill with almost no knowledge of the tech space. Can you tell us a little about that journey?
Truth be told, I was equally as surprised as anybody else that I even got offered a role at a tech company. I was looking for a transition after starting a business with my husband. I went in just to entertain the idea, not really knowing too much about it. But, they were really keen on it, took a chance on me and taught me everything. I don’t think that a lot of companies would take a shot like that – on somebody who didn’t come from a tech background.
What were your biggest hurdles being a woman in tech?
One of the biggest hurdles that I’ve come across throughout my five years in the industry is just being taken seriously. For me, the real challenge in that is finding the patience within yourself and the grace to handle those situations properly. I think that if we continue to have the conversation, encouragement, empowerment and equality in this space, it will get better. I will say that Sensibill was pretty gender equivalent from the beginning and that was just who they were – and are. They didn’t hire me because I was female. They hired me because I was the right candidate for the job.
Strategic Account Manager
Why did you choose to pursue customer success as a career?
I’ve always thought that a relationship management position was probably best suited for me but was never given the opportunity to pursue it. When I first interviewed with Sensibill, I interviewed as a project manager and they came back and said they wanted me to interview for this role instead. I can’t say I chose it. I think I am who I am and then Sensibill helped identify my strength.
What are three things you’ve learned throughout your career?
The first thing I’ve learned is that being authentic will bring the right people into your life. The notion that you should act a certain way, be a certain way or think a certain way in a business world vs. your social media world is false. Be who you are.
The second is never be afraid to ask. Opportunities don’t present themselves all the time. You sometimes have to fight for them. So I’ve learned to really have the guts to ask for things.
The third is to be open-minded. Especially in tech where this world is ever-evolving. We have to be receptive and learn the changes that are going on around us. We can’t be afraid to challenge them as well.
Our hope is that, in the near future, women will not be recognized for their gender, but for their talents, strengths and who they are as humans. Until that day comes, we hope you enjoyed meeting just a few of the incredible women who work here at Sensibill.