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Globalizing Calgary Tech Vol. 7 | Women in Tech & Global Leadership

Published: Friday, October 15th, 2021

Globalizing Calgary Tech is a series of thoughtfully curated discussions that help connect our community, put the spotlight on local tech and innovation leaders and learn from cities leading in tech and innovation around the world. These discussions and their takeaways lead to action, helping focus our work to massively grow the size of Calgary’s startup and innovation ecosystem. Click here to watch previous Globalizing Calgary Tech discussions. 

After a series break over the summer, Platform hosted the seventh discussion in the Globalizing Calgary Tech series focused on women in tech leadership. We heard from five founders and leaders, working in tech in Canada and around the world, about the trajectory of their careers and the lessons they’ve learnt along the way, opportunities in tech, and their advice for the next generation of women in leadership. 

The panelists included Catherine Bischoff, CEO at Sovereign Nature Initiative; Kelly Schmitt, CEO at Benevity; Kylie Woods, Founder and Executive Director at Chic Geek; Tess Van Thielen, VP of Advanced Services at Rogers for Business; and Shelly Kuipers, Co-CEO at The51 moderated the discussion. 

The conversation was wide-ranging — here are some of our highlights from the insight they shared: 

  1. People have much higher expectations now of the companies they work for and consume from. There’s a certain level of activism that exists within employees now as companies become increasingly transparent — people want to work for and consume from companies that reflect who they are. It’s important for job seekers to communicate their values early on in the job hunt to find a company whose values align with their own. Stating those values publicly also helps consumers know who they're purchasing from or doing business with. 
  2. The younger generation is moving faster. The next generation is less likely to follow a “traditional” career trajectory — they are more likely to advocate for themselves and underrepresented groups from the beginning, and are working to break down barriers. This means there’s greater representation from employees at all levels of a company, rather than just leadership voices. 
  3. Good leaders are able to recognize their strengths. People and relationships skills become increasingly important as a career progresses. Recognizing personal strengths as a leader early on and learning to lean into them is a valuable skill. Key strengths include resilience, communication, empathy, and an ability to connect the dots and see the bigger picture. 
  4. The journey towards DE&I is often about the small things. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are typically lumped together into one category, but are actually three separate things — just because a company looks diverse on paper doesn’t mean the culture is actually inclusive. Leaders should take the time to recognize how they're practicing DE&I beyond what the outside world can see. 
  5. Tech is at a very exciting stage. We need tech to solve the big problems that exist in the world. The exciting part is that we don’t even know the potential of what we can do yet!

We’d love to hear from you! If you attended this session, please take a moment to complete this survey and let us know how you liked it. If there’s something you’d like to see in a future volume of Globalizing Calgary Tech, please let us know

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