A Blog from the desk of CanWIT's Executive Director: Tech Women Canada 2013 – Canadian Women Leaning and Leading in Silicon Valley
May 23, 2013

Contact: CanWIT, Executive Director, Emily Boucher at eboucher@cata.ca  

As the Executive Director of CanWIT, I was thrilled to be chosen as one of 21 women in Canada’s tech sector to participate in Tech Women Canada 2013. This is the second year that the Canadian Consulate has initiated this program to bring Canadian women technology entrepreneurs and leaders to Silicon Valley to make connections and learn from those working in the world’s leading tech-mecca. The aim of the program is to expose Canadian women to the impact and high growth culture of the Valley, which they can then use to enhance the growth of their technology companies (Canadian Consulate – San Francisco, 2013). For myself and others in the group, this was the opportunity of a lifetime to talk to our Silicon Valley peers and mentors about the challenges/opportunities we have leading tech companies and organizations North of the border.

I finally had the time on my flight from Ottawa to San Francisco to read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, as did fellow Tech Women Canada participant Audrey Wu, which I found out on our way to the opening reception for Tech Women Canada 2013 at IDEO. Audrey is a Senior Account Manager for Toronto-based Addictive Mobility, a growing mobile-ad company that Audrey’s helping take to the next level. Whether you’re a woman or a man (especially in the tech sector), I absolutely encourage you to read this book. It’s relevant and inspiring. There was a major theme throughout the conference, and one that I think is apparent throughout Lean In... whereever you are, whether you’re in Mountain View on the Google Campus (which is amazing by the way) or leading a bootstrapped start-up in Ottawa or Toronto, the same challenges and opportunities exist and having a mentor or sponsor invested in helping you navigate the difficult waters of both career and business development in the constantly changing technology sector is invaluable.

For me, and also from a CanWIT perspective, my favourite chapter in Lean In was undoubtedly “Are you my mentor?” CanWIT leads its own eMentorship program funded by Status of Women Canada which effectively highlights the importance of both informal and formal mentoring, so I’m well aware of the importance and value that mentoring relationships have for women in our sector (this is also my shameless plug for the program where I encourage you to sign-up). The weight that Sandberg places on Sponsorship, in particular, is significant to note. My personal thoughts are that an effective mentoring relationship leads to sponsorship, with your mentor actively investing in your career and promoting your skill-sets to others.

Peer-to-peer mentoring is also incredibly valuable and I think all Tech Women Canada participants would agree that some of the greatest moments throughout the entire program were found during the journeys en route to various program sessions where we were able to connect with other participants and learn more about them as individuals and their businesses. Audrey and I discussed the inspiration we both discovered in Sandberg’s bestseller and it certainly prepared us for an inspiring week in Silicon Valley where we met amazing leaders from Google, Twitter, Facebook, Salesforce.com, IDEO, and Cloudflare, to name a few. Most importantly though, and perhaps another underlying point to this program was to find inspiration in each other. To each of the amazing mentors, the Canadian Consulate team, and participants, including fellow CanWIT member, Dr. Laurelle Jno Baptiste, thank you for an amazing week! 

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