• 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.



  • blog
  • Women in Tech – Stand Strong, Don’t Walk Away

    Stand strong and be visible.  There are so many reasons to be discouraged by what you hear, what you read, and what you experience in technology today.

    And yet, there is one reason to stand strong – because you want to be in Tech and you know you’re good at it.  Scratch that, girl geek.  If you’re in tech today as a female, you’re probably great at it!  If you were merely curious, or sort of good at coding, you likely would have opted out through the education, hiring, or early days of working in tech.

    Great coders – those who ‘feel it’ – when the code doesn’t work, and then ultimately when it does, have so much in common.  This goes for men and women.  We all have the common desire to solve problems and create.  The most humble also have the trait of wanting to help others by looking for the elusive bug or syntax error in your colleague’s code help him/ her get over that roadblock.  These humble geeks care – about the profession, about the people, and about the results.

    You can always find the other kind of coder – the bully, the sexist, the kind who believe the ‘club’ should be closed.  Spoiler alert – some of these people are actually women.  Women who had a hard time breaking in and want the women behind them to feel it too, and women who are afraid there are only so many seats at the table open to women and will (sometimes quietly) derail other women to secure or protect their seat.

    Don’t focus on these people too much, but know they exist.

    Seek out your positive, helpful, supportive colleagues and bosses and network. There are so many people in tech – men and women – who want to help with advice, and connections, and their time.

    Girl geek – stand strong!  After all, if you walk away, who will help the next girl geek who was looking to be inspired by you?

  • blog
  • Thankful Tuesday – Peaceful Workspace

    Workspace – space used or required for one’s work, as in an office or home.

    Today I am thankful that although I have to do some work after hours, I found this beautiful workspace to use.  Travelling for business, staying in hotels, and missing the comforts of home can be draining at times.  Instead of sitting in my office at work, or sitting at the desk in my hotel room and feeling tired of handling paperwork, I decided to sit outside and work.  Reading documents and managing email felt so different.  It was a quiet space and the weather perfect for sitting outside (in the shade).

    I also realized I am feeling more creative and my mind is flowing in better ways than normal.  I’m inspired and motivated.  Is it the peace… the comfort… the time of day… the warm weather and sunshine… ?  Maybe a bit of all these factors.  And I’m sure one other reason is I made a choice – to sit and focus, to enjoy my surroundings while working, and to set a cut off time when I would wind up the day and head to the gym.  When I work in a hotel room, it’s hard to cut the work off so I’m enjoying many benefits and a positive sense of perspective.

    Our surroundings – the space and the people – matter.  Make good choices girl geek!

  • blog
  • Women in Tech – Positive Controversy?

    Positive controversy

    Positive Controversy?  Yes, it’s happening right now for Women in Tech.

    There have been many stories in the news over the past few weeks about how women in technology have been treated badly. And almost as many stories about the reaction of people to those facts.

    From CEOs who have resigned, to CEOs who have spoken out saying “maybe they didn’t realize what they were doing” (bullshit) to companies working on culture change and women feeling empowered to tell their own stories.  Diversity and inclusion are being talked about, and many companies are working hard to create a culture where diversity and inclusion are not only understood but also practiced.

    The stories are varied in frequency, impact, and viciousness.  The one thing they all have in common is that women in technology are often treated as though a) they shouldn’t be there because it makes men uncomfortable, b) they can’t possibly know how to code, c) if they are going to be in this profession, they should accept lewd behaviour and worse, or d) they can be successful but only to a point. (That point being a level in the organization just below the person who is judging them).

    But…these stories are all positive for one reason.

    Because women are in these jobs, and it’s making people uncomfortable, and that leads to talking about it, and women standing up for themselves, and other men and women standing up for them, …and ultimately change.

    When I started in technology, there were no women managers in the technology department of the company I was in.  And now women are not only in manager roles, they are also in executive roles, and CIO roles, and in roles as CEOs leading tech companies.

    Imagine the arrogance of women doing that?

    Imagine the bravado, the intelligence, the tenacity, the grit!

    Go girls go!  Keep showing up.  Keep making people uncomfortable.  Keep proving yourselves.  And while you’re doing all that, make a conscious choice to stand up for other Women in Tech who need your support.

    I look forward to the day young women in technology ask us what all the fuss was about because they are treated so normally they don’t know the challenges that existed.

    Let’s help make that happen.



  • lifestyle
  • Women in Tech – Changing Times

    The Times, They are A-Changing

    I’ve had some terrific experiences interviewing and accepting jobs in my career.  I’ll contrast this with some other experiences I’ve had along the way.

    One time I talked to a senior executive of a company I worked for and stated my interest in a job that had just opened up.  This job was leading a technology area that had historically been mostly male team members and always led by a male executive.  His response was “this job is difficult and could have an impact on your family life”. When I talked to the HR Executive about my interest in the role, she asked “do you think you’re tough enough?”. I believe their responses would have been different if I were a (louder, larger) man.

    One person I interviewed told me he wasn’t sure he could work for me because he had never had a female boss.

    Once I was interviewed for a role and the executive said to me “If you look at all the people you’d be working with, do you think you’ll be able to get your point across with your style?”  I didn’t understand the concern so I probed further.  He clarified by saying “It doesn’t seem like you would be comfortable yelling”.

    I was asked once if I would be comfortable working for a female executive.

    I am not using these examples to call these people out. This is how they genuinely think and feel.  Everyone goes through their own evolution of thinking about inclusion at their own pace. I tell you these stories for two reasons:

    1. Awareness – It’s always good to know the truth. If someone thinks you aren’t tough enough and says that to you, you can give examples of how you work through difficult situations or with difficult people.  If they’re concerned about working for a female boss, you can discuss what the concerns are and talk through your management style.   If they think two strong women can’t work together, you can talk about why you think it’s an advantage and how you have experience. Anything someone brings up can be discussed. When the bias is unspoken, it’s hard to make your point.

    2. Decisions – Times are changing, and people are changing. Some of the change is driven by education, some by exposure and time, and some change is driven by law.   There may never be a time everyone will embrace your participation.  In these cases, you may need to make decisions about what you can accept and what you can’t and whether the environment is the right place for you.

    The Times, They are A-Changing.  Maybe not as quickly as we want, but keep in mind that every step forward creates positive momentum.  Keep the faith, keep challenging the status quo, and be ready with your examples in case you end up in any of these situations and discussions yourself!



  • blog
  • Women in Tech – Your Skills are Shining

    I recently started a job with a new company.  During the final interview round, I found myself sitting with the CEO.  Since I had been through multiple interviews with the search firm and members of his team, he knew I had the skills and the knowledge and the experience of leading IT teams, driving an IT strategy, working with vendors, and delivering on large programs.

    His questions for me were focused on partnerships, collaboration, and engagement.

    These are skills that women exceed at.  We use these skills every day at home and at work and we don’t even think about it.  We partner with other parents to transport our kids, we collaborate with neighbors to hold a pot-luck, and we engage children and parents alike in conversation to make them feel valued.

    And so I found myself sitting in this final interview being asked about these very skills.  Questions about how I get work done, how I work with others, how I motivate and influence and support other people.  I dare say these questions wouldn’t have been asked 5 years ago, and certainly not when I started working 30 years ago.  Some people are getting it.  They understand we need people, and managers, and leaders who can work well with peers and bring their team along to get the most out of the overall effort and achieve the best outcomes.

    Women in Tech – your skills are shining!