• blog
  • Thursday Tech Talk – Sleek Hard Drive!

    Who knew? I was moving to a new laptop for personal use and needed to move a lot of data, okay … 11 years of photos and music. I talked to my resident tech support, a.k.a. computer science graduate child. If you don’t have one of these in your family, I highly suggest you nurture one in this generation or the next. Not only are they highly marketable for employment, but they also come in handy for help in the home when they are in the right mood.

    So, back to the challenge. I needed to move a lot of data and I didn’t want to do it in multiple copy / paste / delete, start over steps and I asked for help.

    My son came home with an external hard drive (HD) for me. When I took this out of the box, I couldn’t believe my eyes. This hard drive, now called “mobile drive” is beautiful, stunning, sleek, and attractive. It’s a Lacie Porsche Design one terabyte (1T) hard drive. It’s described in marketing material from Lacie as a combination of speed, design, and technology resulting in a different breed of mobile drive.

    I was so taken by this HD that I looked up the Lacie brand and learned they make many beautiful technology products, and I also looked up the Porsche Design to find out if this was really the same Porsche. You know, the ones who make cars.

    Yes. It is. The same company who makes cars designs technology for the everyday user. The idea of Porsche Design was started by the grandson of the Porsche founder, and this same grandson, Prof. Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, also designed the Porsche 911.

    They also state … “Out of a collaboration born in 2003, a trailblazing Tech firm and an iconic design house have forged another functional showpiece.” No debate from me.

    I tested it out and this HD works like a charm. It’s fast, quiet, and reliable. The device itself is smaller than my mobile phone and light, yet sturdy. It comes with two cables (USB-C and USB 3.0) and works with PC/Mac and next-generation computers.

    One terabyte storage for less than $100. I still remember when we bought “jump drives” with 250MB for about $19.99. And they weren’t even cute.

    Well done, Porsche and Lacie, well done.

  • lifestyle
  • Thankful Tuesday – One Grad’s Story

    We received the grad photos today for my son’s graduation from University.

    We attended the graduation ceremony a few weeks ago. As I sat in the audience, full of pride and nostalgia, my mind reflected on our journey as a family to this point and then to thoughts of every graduate in the ceremony. Each graduate has their story, their journey, their moments of struggle and triumph.

    We have two kids – both Queen’s graduates now, and yet so different. This one felt like the graduation that wouldn’t be. This kid – intelligent, wise, independent, and personable. And yet, challenging, stubborn, and sullen at times. This one never enjoyed school, worked since the age of 14 and wondered what he would learn from formal education that would be better than what he was learning on the job. And he was committed to his own path.

    In second year of University, he announced at our family Christmas dinner that he planned to stop going to school. It didn’t go over well. After several hours, many words, and some tears (mine, not his), we came to an agreement that he would continue school if he could tell everyone he was only doing it for his mom.

    I didn’t care what he told people as long as he continued. I knew he could find jobs and thought he might even be fine without the degree, but I didn’t want him to regret the choice. And with this child, I knew a break from school would probably result in him never returning.

    He continued with school. He stayed connected to his family. He kept working at a job he loved – to balance with the school he didn’t. He persevered. We traveled over these 4 tough years, him to us, us to him, and many lunches and dinners where we met halfway. Once a month, we checked in physically to see him. My style is to see the kid to understand the kid. It’s easy to hide things from your mom when you just text or call, but the face tells the story.

    Other parents gave me advice to let him do what he wants and said he’d make the right choices. It didn’t feel right so we took our chances. We pushed when required and stepped back to give breathing room.

    This child of mine…
    – could have graduated in the ceremony in June but didn’t file the paperwork in time
    – could have had his photo in the school yearbook, but had the session 2 days before the grad ceremony
    – forgot we were having family Thanksgiving dinner the night before the ceremony, but changed his plans to join us anyway
    – sent me a picture in line with his robe on so I wouldn’t worry that he would be late
    – posed with his sister, and his girlfriend, and parents and smiled for his photos in front of the school landmarks, all without a complaint

    So dedicated and focused at work. So loving and caring to his family as he has matured over the years.

    It’s been a long and winding road to this graduation. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Here’s to all the graduates. And all the parents. And grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, friends, professors, and school counselers who helped them on their individual journeys.

    Bask in the success. You’ve all earned it.

    The night before grad when I was teasing him about the time he told us he was quitting school, he said with a twinkle in his eye – “funny, I don’t remember that”. I responded with an equally light tone “Oh, yes, must have been someone else.”

  • blog
  • 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.

  • 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
  • Thankful Tuesday – Eccentric Enough

    Eccentric – unconventional and slightly strange. This would be a kind way of saying how my family sees me.

    I am thankful today that I come from a family that sees the world in unusual ways, taught me to do the same, and gave me the confidence to share my eccentricity with my own husband and children.  I am also thankful that my family, extended family, and often friends go along with the odd ideas and adventures I suggest.

    This past week-end when we had some down time before my father’s 80th birthday party, my mom suggested we could go to see the largest fire hydrant in the world.  I dragged 4 of the family along and off we went. When they asked why we would do this, I smiled and said simply because we can.

    I didn’t know at the time there were two ‘largest fire hydrants’ before, but this one is more than 10 feet higher than the earlier versions in Texas and Manitoba.  The largest one now at 40 feet tall – the one we saw – is in Columbia South Carolina.  And now you know about it too.  😊

    Largest Fire hydrant

  • lifestyle
  • Technology and Travel, in Rome

    Trevi Fountain
    Trevi Fountain

    Who knew technology and travel would come together so beautifully to  deliver a 2017 Mother’s Day gift for me?

    Emma has been living in Rome for what seems like forever to me, and too short for her.  I’ve missed her so much and looked forward to visiting her.

    Technology enabled the travels plans from discussing what days were best for her and for me, to confirming my work calendar, and booking flights.  After that, technology allowed us to discuss itineraries online while we were apart at times that worked for both our time zones.

    Technology helped her meet Roberto in Rome, and he used technology to capture our photo today at the Trevi Fountain.  We used technology to check on the best travel route between sites we wanted to see today and technology to download podcasts and listen to them on my fantastic AirPods so we could each have one in our ear and the other ear available to hear each other talk.

    And when we got to the Fountain – the sounds, the people, the beauty. We each made our wish and threw in our coin.  Or as they say in Italy – ‘our dream’. What an experience!

    Yes, we could have done all of these things before technology existed in its current form.  But we would have spent more time and probably been more frustrated along the way.

    So instead, we spent most of the day – Mother’s Day at that – enjoying the walk, enjoying the sites, and enjoying each other.

    What a fantastic way to spend this sunny, warm, and magical day.

    Now if I could just find a way to use technology to heal the sprained knee I caused on the Roman cobblestone streets, that would be the icing on the cake.  🎂


  • lifestyle
  • Where are your Thanksgiving leftovers?


    Where are your Thanksgiving leftovers?  This is not the question I expected to hear when going through airport security.

    I went to South Carolina to visit my parents for Thanksgiving this past week-end.  It’s tradition, it’s heartwarming, and it’s a trip.  The date is not a surprise – the 4th Thursday of November every year – but my planning is not always done in advance.  This year, I booked the flights late and had a choice for returning home either early on Sunday or very late Sunday and picked the early flight.

    This meant I was standing at the security line at 7:30 a.m. and surprised when asked the question – “If you were traveling for the holidays, where are your Thanksgiving leftovers”?  I smiled and raised my blue plastic bag, and said “They’re right here, my parents packed us a lunch”.  It was a delicious lunch they packed, complete with turkey sandwiches on fresh croissants (pictured above).  The guard, being more awake than I, wasn’t letting it go that easily.  He smirked and said with a twinkle in his eye “That small bag.  That’s a bit stingy, isn’t it?”.  We all laughed and wished each other a good day.

    We continued the conversation and I learned he was rooting for South Carolina and his wife is a Clemson grad, so he had a tough night on Saturday listening to her celebrate.  I kept my opinion to myself that the Clemson coach could have shown some restraint and not tromped South Carolina 56-7.  Isn’t it old fashioned sportsmanship to let your second string (third string) in to play when the game is so clearly won?

    I smiled thinking of the OSU win over Michigan since I went to OSU many years ago.  OSU won in double overtime (never happened before), there were questionable calls (always), and the Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct after stomping around like a toddler and throwing his headset so hard onto the ground that it broke.  My dad rooted for Michigan because in his words “I don’t like how Coach Urban Meyer says ‘The Ohio State'”.  Okay Dad.  What a game.  What a week-end.  What a holiday.

    Thanksgiving.  It can bring people together who would have never met before.  But only if you let it.  Enjoy your day girl geek.

    Happy Thanksgiving