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  • Thursday Tech Talk – Innovation and Public Speaking!


    What a fantastic day I had! A public speaking engagement I enjoyed, and talking about Innovation.

    Reflecting on the day, the first thought I had was how blessed I feel and all the people who were instrumental in bringing me to this day.

    The obvious ones:
    – My parents who have always been my biggest fans.
    – My two brothers who are both extroverts and make the public speaking / meeting people aspect of their jobs look so simple.
    – My husband and kids who think I can do anything, and listen to me practicing the words.

    The professional contacts:
    – The boss, Dominique, who told me it was important for me to give public speeches for my team and the people who needed to hear the messages, not for me. This was a life changing moment for me 15 years ago that I never forgot.
    – The communications expert, Ann, who I worked with many years ago and taught me that the words we use matter more than we think.
    – The executive team work with who drives Innovation, always pushing for “what’s next?”.
    – The technology team I work with who delivers on the Innovation agenda every day.
    – My many professional colleagues who supported me over the past week, saying things like “you’ll be great” when I told them I had this engagement on my calendar for Thursday.

    And the IBM colleagues who believed in me:
    – Ayman Antoun, President of IBM Canada, who graciously shared the stage with me.
    – Bill Steele and Brian Medeiros, who believed in our Innovation message.
    – and all the supporting characters who walked me through the prep and stage directions, provided tips for getting through the curtain in the dark backstage, and then whisked me back offstage when the time was up!

    My second thought was on how the message went.
    I delivered the key points and was proud of the work I am involved with, both at my company delivering for Economical and Sonnet Insurance, and also the industry forums I participate in to develop the next generation of talent for these jobs in technology.
    The key points:
    – Digital Innovation – let’s Listen, Learn, and Surprise. With my favorite definition of surprise being “to cause someone to feel unusually delighted”

    – Integrating emerging technology – putting complex technology solutions together in a way that creates simple transactions for our customers (including Feedzai, Cloudera Hadoop, Guidewire, SpringBoot, Pentaho, and delivered on the IBM Cloud)

    – Investing in talent – integrating technical experts with new grads, and diversity in age, culture, experience, and thought. Remember diversity is accepting the presence of people different than you, and inclusion is embracing their participation. girlswhocode and IBM’s “Pathway to Technology” are two great examples of how we can support young people to embrace technology and technology careers.

    – Implementing agile practices – and let’s remember that agile is just a way of delivering. Our goal should be to deliver at velocity and not be focused on the word or the method.

    And the third thought I had was how our stories connect us.
    – Strangers talked to me afterwards and told me how one sentence I said was exactly what they were going through.
    – 4 people in the audience approached me afterwards to reconnect. People I had worked with at companies in the past who shared with me an update on their life.
    – and the people who wished me well checked in to see how it went.

    The event was the IBM Innovation Forum 2018.

    All in all, a good day indeed. And tomorrow it’s back to work and reporting into the Risk Committee.

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  • Thankful Tuesday – Strategy and Cakelet?


    What a day…

    I attended a long strategy meeting today and enjoyed it. The topics were interesting, the team dynamics positive, the outcomes important, and there was food. Discussion about the future, the company strategy, and how the technology my team delivers fits into those plans.

    It is also my birthday and that was fun too! One last swim for the season – this is saying a lot for October in Canada. A delicious dinner with family, flowers from my kids, a call from my parents, a bouquet also from my team, and a cakelet. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Cakelet. Enough cake for everyone to have a taste, and not so much that you wonder what to do with it.

    I am thankful and I feel blessed. Work and colleagues I enjoy, and a family who knows how much I love my birthday and all the traditions that come with it.

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  • Thursday Tech Talk – Deskside Support Experts


    I got a new laptop yesterday. An excellent deskside support person came, delivered the laptop, set me up, and had me running in 15 minutes.

    This is her job so maybe that’s not a big deal. The interesting aspects to me were these:
    – she was extremely pleasant and personable
    – she was effective and knowledgeable
    – she taught me a few things without making me feel dumb
    – she was a girl geek

    I can’t remember the last time I had a technical support person help me who was a female. Yes, help desk reps, but not hands on deskside support people.

    We’re establishing standards for devices and I’m testing this out as a small, lightweight option for heavy travellers like myself. I have 30 days to assess and make a decision.

    Getting new equipment can be fun, or can be painful. This was an excellent, positive experience. I was inspired and smiled all day.

    Well done, girl geek. Well done.

    If you’re wondering…

    Lenovo X280
    Intel i7, 8th Gen
    DDR4 SDRAM
    2400 MHz
    17 hours battery life
    12.5 inch screen, 2.9 pounds
    And yes, that’s a built in webcam shutter 🙂

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  • Leadership Thoughts – Two Feet of Perspective

    A busy week including working in 4 cities, literally commuting via trains, planes, and automobiles, temperatures that varied from 90F+ to a dip of 55F in a matter of days, preparing for two major presentations, and a neighbourhood bbq to top it all off.

    Busy – productive – fun – and by the end my head was full.

    I realized I needed to let everything find a place in my brain, and I would benefit from some perspective. I found it without having to go far from home.

    A beautiful lake, a warm sunny day, and 30 minutes of free time on my hands. Perspective, POV, frame of mind. Whatever you want to call it. It always fascinates me how taking a few minutes to think frees up the required thoughts I need to pull it all together.

    Two feet of perspective. And life is good again.

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  • Leadership Thoughts – Tethered by Trust

    I recently took a vacation in the western provinces of Canada that included 11 days on a motorcycle. This was a first for me and I wasn’t sure what I was getting into.

    Two Harley motorcycles, two couples, many mountain ranges, large lakes and rivers and the Pacific Ocean, and countless twisties. Roads that allow the rider to enjoy, curving, swaying, following the natural landscape, with the beautiful views ever present.

    The road, my thoughts, and hours of enjoyment – about 77 hours of riding in fact – and this phrase popped into my head: “tethered by trust”.

    When two bikes ride together tethered by trust, the riding is an experience like poetry, like a symphony, like a well-oiled machine. There is an unspoken language that is learned through experience that enables joy and safety, leading and sharing, and pure exhilaration.

    It reminded me of leadership in work and personal experiences. When common goals, experience to execute, and trust exists, words are often unnecessary. We know where we’re going, we have the right skills, and people trust me to both lead and pass the reins at the appropriate moments. Lead when I’m needed, pass the reins to others either for a break or allow them to grow, or to recognize areas of strength that I may not have.

    A Harley motorcycle, an open road, and a few hand signals that are universally known by experienced riders. And don’t forget the dropped-arm-low-key-wave when you see a fellow biker.

    Tethered by trust. Leadership indeed.

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  • Women in Tech – Job Change?


    Women in Tech…

    Have you ever been on vacation and pondered a job change? I have taken a vacation several times in my life to consider a job change, or a job offer, and also to take stock of what I want to do.

    I laughed as I saw this sign today and thought to myself, well that’s a different kind of job.

    So if you’re thinking of a job change and want something really different from a life in Tech – I can hook you up with an opportunity in Washington state. It’s not clear if the cottage is available for accommodations, but I bet you could negotiate!

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  • Thankful Tuesday – Space to Think

    My brain needs space to think.

    Sometimes that space is just a quiet room, or an uninterrupted moment with eyes closed, or a walk around the block.

    When I was young and something became too much – usually involving two siblings mad at each other – my Gram would say “go run around the house”. A wise women she was. The run around the house bought her time away from the quarrel, but also distracted us kids from whatever big issue was going on. (You took my cookie, stop looking at me, etc.)

    Space. It allows my brain to think, and reflect, and gain perspective.

    I am currently on a vacation like no other I have taken. 11 days of riding a motorcycle in Western Canada and the U.S. with a loose agenda and many miles to travel. One city to the next, mountains everywhere I look, rushing water, dried up rivers, glaciers melting, forests thriving and forests burned, different cultures everywhere we land for lunch and the night, … and space.

    I remember this quote from my school days and always loved it. Now I am feeling it…

    “Go West, young man, go West. There is health in the country, and room away from our crowds of idlers and imbeciles.” “That,” I said, “is very frank advice, but it is medicine easier given than taken. It is a wide country, but I do not know just where to go.” “It is all room away from the pavements. […]”

    — Josiah Bushnell Grinnell [9]

    I am fortunate and I believe I live a blessed life. A key part of enjoying that is also stepping out of it to reflect, and taking that time, and space to think. What better way to do that than to go west, young man, go west!

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  • Leadership Thoughts – A-maze?

    There was a horrific event in our city a few months ago involving a man who intentionally drove his van into a crowd with the intent to kill people.

    It is unusual for such violence where I live, and therefore shocking and overwhelming for everyone who was involved as well as all of us who feel we live in an environment safe from such acts.

    One of the responses was for the city to install concrete barriers around our main train station. This station is used by approximately 300,000 commuters on a daily basis and all of the people using the train for vacation and other travel.

    So, it’s extremely important for the station to be safe. These barriers would definitely hinder, and probably stop an event like the one I described from happening in front of this location.

    As I walked by this week, I thought of the leadership it took. To take action, to make that action swift, and to demonstrate to the city that people are a priority. And yet, my second thought was this…

    Now we are stuck with these hideous looking barriers. They created a maze, it’s not amazing. Hard to walk through, hindering people’s commute every morning and night. Yes, barriers are probably needed. Couldn’t we implement something that is more appealing, and still a barrier? For inspiration, the large pots with flowers some hotels installed around their perimeter come to mind. While they are beautiful, they still provide the barrier to cars and other vehicles.

    I thought then that true leadership takes action, and follow-through. I worry that whoever decided to put up the concrete barriers is off to the next priority. I’ll bet he/she doesn’t take a commuter train and may never actually drive by and consider the view these concrete slabs create.

    So I’ll remind myself, and maybe some of you, remember to take action, think about people, and follow-up. Check back in, see how your decisions are doing a few weeks later, and refine where necessary. It’s not too hard.

    Have a safe day, girl geek.

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  • Leadership Thoughts – Open Minded?

    Open minded – having a mind receptive to new ideas, arguments, etc; unprejudiced

    Most people think they are open minded. Receptive to new ideas, willing to take in new facts, able to change their thinking. And yet, we often talk to people who are like us and think like us and believe the things we believe. How often do we intentionally expose ourselves to different or new just for the experience of opening our mind to the possibility of changing our mind?

    I attended an exhibit of works by Banksy. I was invited by a contact of mine and accepted without really knowing anything about this mysterious artist. When I was invited, I even had to look up who Banksy was and what his (street) art was about. Knowing my daughter (a computer science and art history grad) would enjoy it, I accepted partly for the opportunity to spend time with her and make her happy.

    As I experienced the art, taking it all in with no judgement I found myself enjoying the experience and the art and the artist. I felt connected to him in some way – his strength of conviction and passion for making his statements in a way that is bold and humble, consistent and creative. This artist and I on the surface have nothing in common and yet he made me feel this connection through his paintings and his words.

    I accomplished my goals of spending time with my daughter and making her happy, and came away with so much more. A feeling that I got to know and understand the artist a bit and a feeling of my mind expanding.

    Well done Banksy, we’ll done.