Senior Software Engineering Manager
Go after what you want. There are so many ways to learn and get involved in STEM.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
I manage teams of software engineers that build software used for SaaS incident response. Our goal is to build software that can help any company with a digital presense avoid or respond quickly to an incident. I also mentor and coach women in tech in the Toronto tech community.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?
I like to think the field chose me. I didn't grow up with a computer or know how to write code at a young age. I was exposed to software development in high school after my family moved to Canada. I was facinated by the endless possibililes of software development and found it quite challenging. So I decided to pursue it in university!
I was a software developer/engineer for almost 10 years before moving in to management roles. I find a lot of joy in helping coach and grow engineers in my teams.
HOW DO/DID YOU TACKLE OBSTACLES?
One of the biggest roadblocks early on was learning to code in university. I had very little exposure to it and constantly felt like I was playing catch up to other students around me. I struggled for the first year or so until I learned study habits that worked for me. There was some trial and error until I learned the fundamentals of software development.
At a previous company a coworker and I saw that tech conferences didn't feature many women speakers (or any at all). Organizers would say that it's hard to find women technical speakers. No one doing anything to change these numbers. We wanted to tackle this and started a meetup dedicated to growing technical speakers in Toronto (ExploreTech Toronto). For 5 years we coached, mentored and showcased hundreds of speakers and more than 60% of the speakers were women. The speakers featured at our meetup are now speaking at bigger events and conferences!
Quite often I run across problems and challenges that I haven't faced before. I usually take some time to understand the problem, ask A LOT of questions and then come up with a plan to tackle that problem. Never be afraid to ask questions or even ask for help.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT & THINK, "I WISH YOUNGER ME WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WAS POSSIBLE?"
Asking for opportunities to learn and/or grow: I was afraid to speak up and ask for things to help me grow in my career. I've learned to ask for these things and to back them up with reasons why I'd like those opportunities. More often than not my managers give me those opportunities. People can't read our minds, so ask for what you want. Even if it's not possible to get that opportunity at that moment, they will keep you in mind for other opportunities that may come up.
WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING IN STEM?
Endless puzzles to solve and working with people. I love looking at coding as a puzzle to solve and I'm constantly learning. I get to work with talented engineers that love to share their knowledge, so there's never a dull day!
BEST ADVICE FOR NEXT GENERATION?
Go after what you want. There are so many ways to learn and get involved in STEM. You can combine so many passions with STEM, work alongside other amazing women and make a difference in our future. Soon enough there will be so many women in our field that we can all learn from.