Diversity drives innovation.
When a diverse group of people work together to solve a diverse range of problems, our entire society benefits. Yet, the common images we see of powerful innovators in the Canadian technology sector do not portray inclusion. We need to change this! Our panelists are women in technology who represent new images of leadership in innovation. Join us for a lively, informative and candid discussion on how these women are promoting inclusion by redefining the work environment and the use of language to create new models of success.
Moderator: Jill Earthy
Jennifer Vander Zalm
Jewellery door prized sponsored by Cartwright Jewellers
“We are an inclusive community for women in business in New Westminster, providing a collaborative environment to build relationships, share ideas and support each other’s business endeavors.”
Jill Earthy is an entrepreneurially minded leader who believes diversity drives innovation. She is currently the Chief Growth Officer of FrontFundr, an online investment platform connecting entrepreneurs and investors. She has built two companies and sold them, and then spent 8 years in nonprofit leadership roles supporting entrepreneurs. Jill serves on the Board of Governors for Simon Fraser University (SFU), and as Board Chair of the Women’s Enterprise Centre. She recently co-founded, The RAISE Collective, to engage more women to invest in early-stage companies. She is an active mentor and was recently named one of 35 Most Influential Women in BC by BC Business Magazine.
Innovation provides an opportunity to create new models that support diversity and inclusion. I would like the conversation to shift from a focus on how do we engage more women in tech to recognizing that it is actually the models and environments that are not working, and to embracing new ways of doing things. This includes how technology is used, work environments, language and more. We need to focus on new models designed with everyone in mind. We are all responsible for creating change to support all, and women in tech will play a key role in this change.
Jennifer Thompson, B.A., M.A. (Econ)
Jennifer is a seasoned start-up executive, angel investor and Board member with a focus on the development of hardware companies in the Vancouver tech sector. She has served as the Executive VP of Enterra Feed Corporation, an environmental technology company commercializing the use of the Black Soldier Fly to convert food waste into animal feed and concentrated natural fertilizer. She has also been the V.P. Corporate Development & Corporate Secretary for TSX-Venture listed EnWave Corporation, commercializing a high-speed, low-energy method for dehydrating food and pharmaceuticals. Jennifer has worked for Westport Innovations developing the market for natural gas engines for buses and trucks in Central and Western Europe, and was a Project Manager and Application Developer at an early-stage Geographic Information Systems company, Facet Decision Systems. Jennifer is currently an Executive-in-Residence and start-up mentor at Foresight Cleantech Accelerator, SFU and UBC, and is an investor and Board member in Vancouver-based hardware start-ups Acuva Technologies and CuePath Innovations. Her non-profit work includes her role as the incoming Board Chair of Urban Academy school in New Westminster, and working behind the scenes to establish a new Maker Space in New Westminster.
As the (often) only woman at the start-up executive table or in the investor room, I have struggled without an image of “success” for myself and so have made many, probably avoidable, mistakes along the way. As I make my way through my late-40’s, I have realized that I am now responsible for creating that image for women who will come after me and, as such, I make an effort to include younger women in my hiring, mentoring and investment efforts; I work to prop other women peers up in their careers; and I consciously demonstrate the value of having senior women at the table throughout my professional life.
Jeanette is an entrepreneur and business strategist with broad-based experience in business development, marketing, operations and finance. Jeanette brings innovation, integrity and passion to all projects and business engagements. She has a tenacious commitment to help companies achieve key milestones.
With local clean-tech company, Light-Based Technologies, Jeanette held the position of founding CEO. She successfully raised millions in investment funding, established partnerships to maximize revenue potential, led cross-functional teams to deliver real results, and engaged experts to develop highly functional advisory teams and boards of directors.
As President of The Brag Company, a combination of online and retail product distribution for smart and luxurious products, Jeanette oversaw the complete restructuring of the business. This included growth in local and international sales, engaging outsource partners to better manage business costs, launching new product and services, and developing a comprehensive plan for the next stage of growth.
Jeanette is currently an Executive in Residence with BC's Foresight Cleantech Accelerator. He is also a Futurpreneur Business Coach & Mentor, New Ventures BC Mentor & Judge, and Provincially Appointed Board Member on the local police board. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration (International Business & Marketing).
The number of women in tech is not increasing at the same pace of the industry itself. We all know that women on teams and in leadership roles help companies achieve unprecedented results. During the first 10 years of my career, I was surrounded by men in male dominated industries. Though I have a strong passion for supporting women only initiatives, the reality is, we, as women need to learn to remove this stigma ourselves by not making it as big of a deal, and being selected for roles because we are the absolutely best person for the job. What does this mean? I believe we are responsible for making that changes by focusing all 200% of our energy in being the smartest, competitive leaders in the field... and on the field.
Catherine Ducharme started her 25+ year communications career in the tech and biotech sector where she stayed for many years before starting her entrepreneurial career. She’s run two successful communication companies where she continued to work for tech companies, among others. Catherine recently switched gears when she joined Smart, Savvy + Associates, a recruitment firm that specializes in finding communications and marketing talent. She’s currently helping to build Smart Savvy Academy, a new leadership, performance and training division. Known as a connector, relationship builder and networker, Catherine is an avid speaker and mentor. She’s currently Chair of the Canada West Region of the International Association of Business Communicators.
My perspective: I started in tech in the 80’s – in a company of 500 people (350+ technical staff) there was only one women engineer. Over the years it’s great to witness the growth of women in technical roles and in the industry in general. There’s work to be done; more women in senior decision making roles and wage parity. I think as women we need to reject barriers (like the glass ceiling), get better about talking about money and what we’re worth, and create new entrepreneurial paths, where we set the tone.
Jennifer Vander Zalm is an ASIC (computer chip) design engineer at Broadcom Inc. She has spent the past 16 years working in the land of bits and bytes designing models for various communication protocols. Jennifer is fluent in over 5 languages, though none of them are useful for international travel. She graduated with a computer engineering degree from UVic and has participated as a mentor in the UBC lean launchpad program and developed curriculum for Go W.E.S.T (women in engineering, science, and technology) to encourage the participation of women in technology programs.
As one of only 2 woman in our 30+ member team I believe it is important for women to see other women succeeding in their careers and balancing their work and personal lives. Within my field of digital design the closer you get to the hardware world, the less women exist in that realm. I would love to see an increase in female executives, management, and teammates within my field.
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