• blog
  • Women in Tech – Asking for Help?

    I’m a girl geek and proud of it. So I decided to buy an Electronic personal assistant.

    I embraced the palm pilot many years ago, wear a stylish Fitbit band, and loved my blackberry for many years. (Okay, many blackberries including 3 white models, many years, and long after the majority of the planet had given up their blackberry). The point is I enjoy personal technology devices and integrating them into my daily routines.

    It was natural then, for me to purchase the Amazon Echo device.

    I purchased it, set it up at home, played with it for a few hours, and then unplugged it.

    I felt like I didn’t get it. I had a way to execute on everything it could do in a different way. And I decided to give it more thought, but didn’t expect to embrace this technology. And I didn’t really want to ask anyone for help.

    Coincidentally, a few weeks later I was invited to a small event the President of Amazon Canada, Eric Gales, was hosting. I was conflicted. The event wasn’t to talk about the Echo (Alexa) device and I wanted to be respectful, but I felt like I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to talk about it. Serendipity of circumstance.

    As a CIO, there can be a reluctance to say publicly “I don’t get it.” There is a technology being embraced and I understand technology. I wanted to enjoy it, but couldn’t figure out the value for me or my family. Why use it, how to use it, when to use it? I read about the uses – the smart home devices, the skills – and yet I couldn’t ‘feel it’.

    After introductions and business talk, there was a moment I was standing alone with Eric. I took a breath, planned my question, and went for it. I told him I’d bought the device and couldn’t figure out how to embrace it.

    I expected Eric to give me a corporate answer on the value of the device and a high level sales pitch. Instead, he took out his phone and showed me his personal set up for the devices in his home. As he described the skills and patterns his family uses, and the nighttime routine both he and his daughter have set up (that are different and yet complementary), it came to life for me.

    Forget the technology for a minute. He was describing a family and their interactions and their habits and traditions. It was enlightening. It was educational. It was sweet.

    I thanked him for his time and committed to him, and myself, to give it another try.

    I did. I tried it and embraced it. I got the family involved. We now have multiple assistants, connected smart home devices, and we’ve created skills. But more importantly, we’ve enhanced our normal and silly family interactions with the technology.

    It’s not really about the technology after all. It’s about the people. Thanks Eric for the perspective and the reminder.

    I know this every day when I am working with technology in my job. I just forgot for a moment. So I encourage you to think about these personal assistants and wearable technologies in a different way. It’s not about turning up the heat, or locking the doors automatically, or turning on the light for your dogs if you are late getting home. While the devices can help with all of these scenarios, it’s really about interacting with your current and evolving family dynamics.

    Ask Alexa to tell you a joke. Check your commute while putting on your shoes. Say thank you to Alexa and have her respond. (One of the things that amuses my husband in a way I don’t fully comprehend.)

    And most of all, create or enhance your family traditions.

    Girl geek. A quick reminder – don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.

  • blog
  • Thankful Tuesday – My Peeps and an Anniversary

    Today is my one year anniversary at this exciting new job! I need to thank my peeps.

    peep. (plural only) (now slang) People; often especially (with personal pronoun), one’s friends or associates.

    It’s such a perfect word. Friends and associates. My peeps. I think of these people so often.

    The ones who are there every day for me. The ones who have been there just for a moment of coaching – supporting – inspiring – teaching – guiding. And the ones in between, who played a role for a period of time. Through a job on this path, or a stage in this life.

    I am blessed. I know that.

    I learned many years ago my identity is not my job, my title, my position of hierarchy. My identity is who I am inside. So it’s easy to look forward and see what I want, where I can grow, and who I want to hang with. My peeps.

    We collect all these souls along the way.

    The boss who taught me how to sell a strategy. The co-worker who said “I’ve always been a fan” at the exact moment I needed a boost. The colleague who said “you are in the best position to assess what you want and make it happen”. The friend who took on a role similar to the one I was considering and talked me through the challenges and the fun he was encountering. The CIO at another company who counseled me that I should look for a role where I could manage infrastructure. The team member who said “you just see things so logically and clearly and not everyone can do that”.

    The friends who always believe. The family members who always cheer me on.

    So many peeps. So many moments.

    All leading to a decision one year ago to jump. To take a risk. To accept this job. To switch companies, and teams, and industries. To start over where I didn’t know anyone.

    And one year later, it’s so fun. And hard. And rewarding. And I know SO MANY new people that I never would have met.

    I am blessed.

    And I got a present. Wrapped in a beautiful bow. From our CEO. How cool is that?

  • blog
  • Leadership Thoughts – Unity is Strength

    What a day it was today. From the morning sunrise – the warmth – the peace of the early day.

    To the sunset and beauty I felt as I drove home.

    My perspective was clear as I tackled the day and the sunshine was shining on me. I stopped to reflect – both before and after – and capture the sights that book-ended this day for me.

    Today was a day of challenge for my team. We presented our technology strategy to the CEO and the entire Executive Team. 2 hours, many statistics, and details of the journey we’ve been on over the past year with many accomplishments to highlight.

    We prepared for weeks. This was no normal meeting. This was a chance to demonstrate our leadership, show we are serious about running the business of technology, and also that we are working as a team. The presentation went well. We made our key points. The room was engaged in the conversation and there was some good-hearted teasing along the way.

    When we were done, I was happy. And excited for the future wins. And proud. How many people get the opportunity to build a team of experts? And know that you are all pulling together? And that each one of them has your back? Well, I have that opportunity now. I am in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. Watch out world – we’re on fire!

    “Unity is strength. . . when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” –Mattie Stepanek

  • lifestyle
  • Women in Tech – Own the Stage!

    I recently attended a conference and came away inspired. The technical information was helpful, the contacts I made were valuable, and I came home feeling full and thankful for the experience. I was full of knowledge, full of ideas, and full of an overall positive experience from thinking and talking about technology non-stop for 4 days.

    The bonus was sitting in the front row of an audience of over 40,000 people and watching talented, technical, business focused women speaking about the future of our industry and using examples of achievements that have already been accomplished.

    All of those words are inspiring to a girl geek like me – the technology industry, the future, and real life achievements (not just what could be done, but what has been done). It’s a fantastic and exciting time to be in tech. But the word in the sentence that brings chills to me even as I write about it weeks after I am back home is the word women.

    When I started in tech many, many years ago, there were no women in management in the technology team at my company. There was no role model, no sense of my spot at the table to aspire to, and no clear view of whether I would be supported at that time to move into an executive role in technology.

    So I sat in that front row – even having that terrific seat was an achievement based on being in a position in technology of making decisions – and listened to women telling stories of accomplishments. Not stories about being a woman in tech, just a leader leading tech innovation. And they did it with strength, and knowledge, and personality. They did it sounding powerful and looking female.

    I share two photos. I know they aren’t great quality, my phone camera competing with magnificent stage lighting, but they capture the essence of the moment. Two women owning the stage and inspiring women like me that we are making great progress in this tech field from that moment I started with no women role models above me.

    I share to inspire you with their greatness, and challenge all you girl geeks to look up to them as role models. I equally challenge you to look around you once today to find a girl geek you can inspire too. There are young women every day entering the field. Let’s take care of them.

    Ginni Rometty, Chair, President, and CEO of IBM

    Alice Keung, SVP & Chief Transformation Officer at Economical Insurance

  • blog
  • Women in Tech – Stay Connected!

    Life is busy, to-do lists are long, and it’s easy to lose touch with people when you no longer work with them every day.

    Tonight I caught up with a friend. She’s another woman in tech. We talked about work, and families, and ourselves. We talked about what makes a great place to work, and what we want out of our jobs. We’re both at a state in our career where we have choices and we want to work with people who are talented, and driven, and respectful. We also want to keep learning and influence change and make a positive impact on business outcomes and people we lead. We talked about technology, infrastructure, IT security, testing practices, and digital transformation. Of course we did because we love it!

    We talked about how we met, and how we loved working together to drive a major change agenda because ego never got in the way of making decisions for progress.

    We also reminisced about our time leading the Women in Leadership initiative for hundreds of women. We took away as many learnings from the question and answer period as the women did from our speeches. I’m now leading the Diversity and Inclusion committee for the company where I work. I know I felt ready for this based on the previous work I did with this friend.

    We talked about current challenges we are facing and gave each other perspective. Don’t let the negative in your head. It didn’t earn that space in your brain.

    We ate and laughed and walked outside since the weather had turned warm for a few hours tonight. And then we took a photo.

    Girl geeks – take care of each other. Stay connected. You’ll never regret it!

  • lifestyle
  • Women in Tech – Be Fierce and Fabulous!


    A message from me to men and women on International Women’s Day –

    “Be fierce in your support of strong women, and relentless in backing the delicate ones so that they may find their personal strength”.

    Many thanks to my parents for inspiring me and giving me perspective as I reflect on this day. Thanks to my father for telling me I could do anything I set my mind to, and my mother for showing me the way.

    For all the women in tech – be fierce (showing heartfelt and powerful intensity), and fabulous (extraordinary and wonderful). Notice that neither of these means you need to be loud or aggressive. Be you!

    We’ve come so far, but we’re not done yet.

  • blog
  • Thankful Tuesday – The sign of the line?

    Thankful Tuesday – the sign of the line?

    Did you ever stand in line and feel thankful? I did today and let me tell you why.

    I am attending an IT conference for CIOs. The attendees are all senior executives in technology – about 900 men and women – and there are short breaks between sessions. During the last break, I found myself standing in a line for the women’s restroom. And I realized I was smiling at the prospect.

    Imagine being at an event for senior IT executives and there are so many women there is a back-up and a line. Wow! I’ve attended at least 15 of these type of conferences over the years and this hasn’t happened to me before. So many women, so many leaders, so much progress. And so many role models for young women joining the technology career path.

    Back to the sign. What is the sign of the line? We’ve come so far, but we’re not done yet!

    Oh yes, the photo. They also had muffin tops for snacks. Another reason to smile. Am I on Seinfeld?

  • lifestyle
  • Thankful Tuesday – Provoking Thought

    Interesting that when we think of the word “provoke”, we often think of the negative definition of the word as in “deliberately make (someone) annoyed or angry”.

    And yet, “provoking thought”, or the commonly used term “thought-provoking” causes us to think of the positive definition – “contains interesting ideas that make people think seriously”.

    I traveled to a new destination and attended a summit for two days this week that was very thought-provoking. A room full of CIOs discussing areas of opportunity and areas of concern, in a safe environment where we could learn and question and share. And for a person like me who is an introvert by nature, there is the added challenge of consciously putting myself into a situation where the value I get will be dependent on actively approaching people I never met before. I agreed to participate in a ‘meet the press’ style presentation on stage to ensure I wouldn’t back out of attending. There was nothing to gain except knowledge and nothing to lose except time.

    Topics included digital disruption, cyber-security, vendor management, IT talent, AI and machine learning, and agility.

    I came away with interesting ideas, serious thoughts, and some new professional connections. I met CIOs from companies across the country who I wouldn’t have run into if I hadn’t taken the time and pushed myself to attend and interact. I was inspired by the conversations and by the expertise in the room. So, I guess there was nothing to lose after all.

  • technology
  • Thankful Tuesday – Preparation

    Today I had to give a 10 minute business presentation. It wasn’t long, but it was extremely important to convey knowledge and confidence and leadership. I spent approximately 12 hours preparing for the presentation. Not preparing what to say, but preparing myself with knowledge and details and facts and emotions about the topic so when I spoke it would be valuable.

    – What are the key messages?
    – What are we worried about?
    – What do we know?
    – Who do we need to help make it successful?

    12 hours. To present 10 minutes. 30 words. One slide.

    I prepared. I presented. I fielded questions. And I was done in 11 short minutes.

    Anyone can talk for a long time on an important topic. And present a lot of material.

    It takes work to be succinct.

    I am thankful to my team for all the prep work we did. It was worth it.

  • blog
  • Thankful Tuesday – My Biggest Fans

    I am thankful today.  These two.  My biggest fans.

    This is not the name I gave them, but the name they gave themselves.  Their real names are Mom and Dad, or Bob and Lorraine in the world outside my family.  But I frequently receive a note signed ‘your biggest fans’.

    I know I am blessed.  I always felt fortunate, but didn’t really understand how important the support and belief and challenge is from parents in our lives.  I assumed for most of my childhood that everyone had people like this in their house – people to cheer us on, people to celebrate our success.  I know now that not everyone has these types of fans standing with them.

    Don’t get me wrong.  They didn’t cheer me on without having high expectations.  When I needed a push to study harder, to think about my actions, and to bring my best self to the table, they were there for those moments also.

    But they were always there as a fan when the moment mattered … when I got an interview, when I landed a job, and when I was promoted.  They were there in personal moments too … when I got married, we bought a house, made important decisions about how to raise the kids, and when I achieved my black belt in martial arts.  They discussed important decisions with me, they provided input, they let me make decisions and mistakes, and they celebrated the successes.

    I recently gave a strategy presentation that was extremely important in my job.  I discussed it with them.  They both have backgrounds in technology jobs.  They provided feedback, proof-read the presentation, and provided feedback on how to make it stronger.  Just like real fans, they want me to be great.

    They call, send notes, share photos, and brag every now and then. 😎

    They inspire me with their zest for life.  They are busy, involved in life, and yet always there for people who need them.  One of their mottos is “we show up” and they do.  They have extended family all over North America and they are often on the road.  They’ve got it figured out from packing the car, hitting the road, finding new adventures, and being there for the good times and hard times in equal measures.  People often say “we knew you’d come”.

    They’ve taught me so much and been there for so many.  And yet, at the end of the day no matter what else is going on I know they are there for me.  Encouraging, smiling, and cheering.  My biggest fans.