Driving WinTech talks to Toronto

Driving WinTech Event Recap

One night in Toronto: Community Conversation recap

Tor3a
Tor2a

By Talia Smith

The evening of October 11 saw an impressive turnout at Toronto’s Women in Tech Community Conversation. The night was graciously hosted by Twitter Canada and supported by community partners, MaRS Discovery District, Movethedial and TechToronto. The event enabled women from Toronto’s tech community to join a panel discussion that shed light on their tech ecosystem.

Moderator Dr. Sarah Saska, is a diversity strategist and co-founder of Feminuity, a consulting agency that helps businesses build company cultures that allow diversity to thrive. Sarah was named one of WXN Canada’s most powerful women. Her enthusiasm was palpable and she wasted no time in introducing the panel: Dr. Rhea Mehta, Andrea Corey and Charu Jaiswal.

The first questions Dr. Saska posed to the panel were how each woman started their tech careers. Two of the three women didn’t have a tech background.

Dr. Mehta is co-founder of Bowhead Health, a healthcare startup focusing on health management and patient empowerment. She earned a PhD in Molecular Toxicology and began her career in academia.

Jaiswal also started out in life sciences, convinced she wanted to be a doctor until a friend kindled an interest in working with AI and engineering. She eventually earned a Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering and Machine Learning. She now works with Peak Power Energy using machine learning to forecast data about energy consumption management.

Both Dr. Mehta and Jaiswal had words of encouragement for those hoping to break into the tech industry. Citing their own stories as inspiration, they each agreed that anyone with a curious mind and keen interest can succeed in tech with a little bit of hard work. Dr. Mehta suggested examining personal core values before jumping into the tech job market. She believes success comes more readily to those who have a firm grasp on where their values and goals align.

Andrea Corey, the VP of Product Development at Nudge Software Inc., also had excellent advice for newcomers entering the tech industry. While she acknowledged that finding free time for personal development can be a challenge, she believes that it’s crucial for all women to devote time to constantly update their skills.

As Corey explained it, working in tech is, “Like any craft, in that you have to put in a lot of practice. We talk about a work-life balance, which is absolutely important –  but it’s also important to show up, do good work and practice.” She feels that bootcamp programs can be a great introduction or refresher in the tech industry, but also thinks that anyone wanting to succeed must allocate time to learn and practice the constantly evolving programs and languages crucial to their field.

All panelists agreed that Toronto has seen excellent growth for women in tech over the past decade, but there’s still a way to go – especially in retaining local talent. The evening ended on a hopeful note, with the panel affirming that there is great energy and momentum now, and this will bring more opportunities for women in tech.

Check back for further recommendations in a future blog series. Visit us on our next stops if you’re near Ottawa or Montreal.

Driving WinTech talks to Toronto

Driving WinTech Event Recap

One night in Toronto: Community Conversation recap

Tor3a
Tor2a

By Talia Smith

The evening of October 11 saw an impressive turnout at Toronto’s Women in Tech Community Conversation. The night was graciously hosted by Twitter Canada and supported by community partners, MaRS Discovery District, Movethedial and TechToronto. The event enabled women from Toronto’s tech community to join a panel discussion that shed light on their tech ecosystem.

Moderator Dr. Sarah Saska, is a diversity strategist and co-founder of Feminuity, a consulting agency that helps businesses build company cultures that allow diversity to thrive. Sarah was named one of WXN Canada’s most powerful women. Her enthusiasm was palpable and she wasted no time in introducing the panel: Dr. Rhea Mehta, Andrea Corey and Charu Jaiswal.

The first questions Dr. Saska posed to the panel were how each woman started their tech careers. Two of the three women didn’t have a tech background.

Dr. Mehta is co-founder of Bowhead Health, a healthcare startup focusing on health management and patient empowerment. She earned a PhD in Molecular Toxicology and began her career in academia.

Jaiswal also started out in life sciences, convinced she wanted to be a doctor until a friend kindled an interest in working with AI and engineering. She eventually earned a Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering and Machine Learning. She now works with Peak Power Energy using machine learning to forecast data about energy consumption management.

Both Dr. Mehta and Jaiswal had words of encouragement for those hoping to break into the tech industry. Citing their own stories as inspiration, they each agreed that anyone with a curious mind and keen interest can succeed in tech with a little bit of hard work. Dr. Mehta suggested examining personal core values before jumping into the tech job market. She believes success comes more readily to those who have a firm grasp on where their values and goals align.

Andrea Corey, the VP of Product Development at Nudge Software Inc., also had excellent advice for newcomers entering the tech industry. While she acknowledged that finding free time for personal development can be a challenge, she believes that it’s crucial for all women to devote time to constantly update their skills.

As Corey explained it, working in tech is, “Like any craft, in that you have to put in a lot of practice. We talk about a work-life balance, which is absolutely important –  but it’s also important to show up, do good work and practice.” She feels that bootcamp programs can be a great introduction or refresher in the tech industry, but also thinks that anyone wanting to succeed must allocate time to learn and practice the constantly evolving programs and languages crucial to their field.

All panelists agreed that Toronto has seen excellent growth for women in tech over the past decade, but there’s still a way to go – especially in retaining local talent. The evening ended on a hopeful note, with the panel affirming that there is great energy and momentum now, and this will bring more opportunities for women in tech.

Check back for further recommendations in a future blog series. Visit us on our next stops if you’re near Ottawa or Montreal.

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.