Driving WinTech talks to Sault Ste. Marie

Driving WinTech Event Recap

A recap of Sault Ste. Marie's Community Conversation

ssm3
ssm6
ssdm5

By Rainer Kern

It was a beautiful autumn morning when our Sault Ste. Marie Community Conversation began. Attendees showed up at the Grand Gardens, eager to learn from our panel of inspiring innovators.

We would like to thank venue sponsor  Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre and food sponsor, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG). Without them, this event wouldn’t have been possible.

Thanks also to our three amazing panelists, for spurring such a dynamic discussion. They all took different paths in life, their stories shedding new light on the typical tale of girl meets tech job. The panel included Linda Clargo, who works for the OLG; Marie Alexander, a creator of many applications now used by the City of Sault Ste. Marie; and Melissa Kargiannakis, the founder and CEO of Heuristext, which is focused on improving information equity. While introducing herself, Melissa quipped, “I’m probably the worst coder here,” and the audience laughed.

When asked how each panelist got started in the tech industry, only one of them said it was their first choice. Linda studied accounting at university. Melissa focused on tech only when she saw a gap in information equality, after she’d completed a masters’ degree in health sciences. Marie was the only one who got into tech early, starting in high school. She took computer sciences there and continued at college on the recommendation of a forward-thinking teacher. For all panelists, entering the tech field was about finding the right fit, finding their passions then seeing what paths were available to them.

The next question was about a pivotal moment in their careers. Marie detailed how it was all about the daily things. She noted working with award winning people, creating outstanding achievements and developing technology that really helped people. Melissa reiterated her poor coding skills, adding that her proudest moment was learning basic coding using a children’s tool. This taught her about the nuances between different computer languages, back-end and front-end work. It helped her see what goes into a successful tech company. Linda cites her achievements as meeting tight deadlines and acting as a project manager. She noted the energy, focus and dedication that went into a successful project.

The final question asked the panelists what they would wish to tell their 15-year-old self – or any woman starting in tech. Their answers were encouraging: talk to other people, learn about the huge variety of skills required for different jobs and don’t be scared that it’s a male dominated field.

It was clear that all three agreed on how important it is to learn about yourself early on. They also encouraged women get exposed to different ideas, either seeking it out for themselves or through learning from others.

The discussion led to the final question: how do you make sure your voice is heard in tech spaces?

Melissa reached for the microphone, saying, “Be confident. Be honest, authentic. Stand confidently, even when your confidence is low, act like it’s high. And if you’re the CFO or the founder, call yourself that. Own that moniker even if there are only five people at the company. After all, your male counterparts are doing the same.”

In depth recommendations will be featured in a future blog series. Follow our journey to learn more!

Thanks to photographer Jeremy Pereira, who contributed our blog photos.

Driving WinTech talks to Sault Ste. Marie

Driving WinTech Event Recap

A recap of Sault Ste. Marie's Community Conversation

ssdm5

By Rainer Kern

It was a beautiful autumn morning when our Sault Ste. Marie Community Conversation began. Attendees showed up at the Grand Gardens, eager to learn from our panel of inspiring innovators.

We would like to thank venue sponsor  Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre and food sponsor, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG). Without them, this event wouldn’t have been possible.

Thanks also to our three amazing panelists, for spurring such a dynamic discussion. They all took different paths in life, their stories shedding new light on the typical tale of girl meets tech job. The panel included Linda Clargo, who works for the OLG; Marie Alexander, a creator of many applications now used by the City of Sault Ste. Marie; and Melissa Kargiannakis, the founder and CEO of Heuristext, which is focused on improving information equity. While introducing herself, Melissa quipped, “I’m probably the worst coder here,” and the audience laughed.

When asked how each panelist got started in the tech industry, only one of them said it was their first choice. Linda studied accounting at university. Melissa focused on tech only when she saw a gap in information equality, after she’d completed a masters’ degree in health sciences. Marie was the only one who got into tech early, starting in high school. She took computer sciences there and continued at college on the recommendation of a forward-thinking teacher. For all panelists, entering the tech field was about finding the right fit, finding their passions then seeing what paths were available to them.

The next question was about a pivotal moment in their careers. Marie detailed how it was all about the daily things. She noted working with award winning people, creating outstanding achievements and developing technology that really helped people. Melissa reiterated her poor coding skills, adding that her proudest moment was learning basic coding using a children’s tool. This taught her about the nuances between different computer languages, back-end and front-end work. It helped her see what goes into a successful tech company. Linda cites her achievements as meeting tight deadlines and acting as a project manager. She noted the energy, focus and dedication that went into a successful project.

The final question asked the panelists what they would wish to tell their 15-year-old self – or any woman starting in tech. Their answers were encouraging: talk to other people, learn about the huge variety of skills required for different jobs and don’t be scared that it’s a male dominated field.

It was clear that all three agreed on how important it is to learn about yourself early on. They also encouraged women get exposed to different ideas, either seeking it out for themselves or through learning from others.

The discussion led to the final question: how do you make sure your voice is heard in tech spaces?

Melissa reached for the microphone, saying, “Be confident. Be honest, authentic. Stand confidently, even when your confidence is low, act like it’s high. And if you’re the CFO or the founder, call yourself that. Own that moniker even if there are only five people at the company. After all, your male counterparts are doing the same.”

In depth recommendations will be featured in a future blog series. Follow our journey to learn more!

Thanks to photographer Jeremy Pereira, who contributed our blog photos.

Everyone knows that we are living in an increasingly tech-enabled world. Not surprisingly, this is reflected in the number of jobs that are now available in the tech industry. The problem is, while the Computer Science workforce has grown by 60% since 1991, the percentage of young women going into the industry has declined (Stats Canada 2011). This needs to change.