Tech – The Great Equalizer? For Women?

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Confession. I fell into Tech more by chance than by intention.  It’s hard to imagine, but back in 1996 there were a number of large companies who preferred (yes preferred) to hire people who didn’t go to school for Computer Science into their tech teams.  (Gasp!) Why?  Two words. Legacy systems.  No Computer Science program (at that time) could prepare a would-be tech person how to navigate the systems that had been developed, patched, and then re-patched within a company’s massive walls.  So the leads of teams preferred to take people like me (innocents who had not be shown how things “should be” ) and train me in their “ways” .

I never though of tech as an option for my career but I had a position that didn’t work with people and I was miserable. My boss agreed to release me back into the company work pool on one stipulation – I could only look for a position that had me interacting with people daily.  There was a tech support role.  I applied. Took an assessment. Got the job. Got trained and the rest they say is history.

It never occurred to me that because I was a “girl” that I was breaking new ground.  The reason?  The tech team that trained me was made up of mostly women.

Wait. What?

Yup! 1996 and I was in a tech team made up MOSTLY of women.  I didn’t know it was odd. I didn’t know it was strange (even back then).  It was all I knew.  The company had created a system for hiring internally. Upon my arrival I was told by the leader (also a woman) “We can teach technical skills if you have the aptitude. We can’t teach social skills. You’re here because you have both, so let’s get started.” As my technical skills grew  I would end up on teams made up of mostly men.  Sometimes there was another women in the room, sometimes there wasn’t – and it didn’t matter.

What I discovered early on is that tech really is a great equalizer.  There are numerous articles and issues about there not being enough women in senior leadership positions, in tech positions, in politics, etc.  I get it. There’s a crisis. But for this article, let’s look at the benefits of being in Tech.

One of the benefits of being in tech, one of the things I adore about this industry, is this:
You either know what you’re talking about or you don’t.
It either works or it doesn’t.
Your technology is either running the way it is supposed to or lighting up your call center.

Isn’t that wonderful?

You can’t sit in a room with your various administrators, developers and project managers and be clueless about what is being discussed – you will either be eaten alive or completely ignored.  (Contrast that with other roles I’ve had working with major brands where I once was forced to sit through an hour debating two different colours of blue and what should be used on the website.  An ENTIRE hour! On the colour BLUE. I’d have left earlier but I needed to know the hex code to finish our work. BRUTAL.)

Every industry has people who try to pontificate on things they know nothing about to make themselves look more knowledgeable than they actually are. Having worked across five industries I can assure you that it’s everywhere – including Tech.  Yet, when it comes to Tech there is something unique that happens that I haven’t seen in other professions.

There’s this moment when you have the team in a room… maybe you’re troubleshooting a showstopper or trying to map out some infrastructure – the leader has reverted to an old school whiteboard and everyone else is heads down on their tablets and PC’s.  Some are frantically researching, your developer(s) are sighing under their breath “…but its working on my machine. &^%$!”, and it is literally ALL hands on deck.  Finally, someone says “Does anyone else  have any other ideas?” It’s like magic.  A voice will fill the room “Have we thought about trying….”  The room pauses and then there’s an instant flurry of activity.  Then the sweet words that fill the air “Ya know, this could work…”

It’s Tech’s most glorious moment because in this moment everyone is equalized.
It doesn’t matter if you are male or female. It doesn’t even matter your years of experience. ALL that matters is getting the problem fixed.

In my early career, I sat in war rooms constantly and it was always the same. All these years later and it make me smile how little has changed.  The behavior is largely the same but the laptops and phones are SIGNIFICANTLY smaller.  Since that time, I’ve held other positions in other industries where we’ve had to troubleshoot.  Yet, whether the tech industry realizes it or not, this leveling of the playing field just doesn’t happen in the same way.

For me, Tech has provided me with a solid platform (no pun intended) to stand on. When I’ve experienced bias (which I have) it has provided me a sword with which to fight.  Knowledge truly is power – and in Tech where it’s either “working” or “failing” there is a true north that is entirely appealing to me.  Yet, as I reflect on my career I realize there were a number of things that brought me to Tech that organization’s should understand as they try to diversify their workforce.

Attracting more women to Tech is one issue, attracting more women to YOUR Tech Company is another. For this article, let’s focus on how you can attracting existing women in Tech to your Tech Company.

First, I was not a “woman” working in “Tech” – there is nothing more insulting to a person then to tell them they are being hired because of something they have no control over (like their race or gender).  I was hired because I had aptitude and social skill.  That validated me as a professional.  Put your focus on the fact that you are looking to hire strong talent.  Period.

Second, talk about how you level the playing field within your organization.   Do you have KPI’s in place?  Have you created an environment that is about actual outcomes or is it about who’s golfing with who?   When looking to work for a Company this can be a huge indicator for candidates on how you value your people and create an environment where anyone can be rewarded for their contribution. (News Flash: We women don’t want ‘favoritism’  based on our gender anymore than you do. We don’t mind competing. We just want a fair competition. )

Finally,  women experience bias all the time.  Don’t insult our intelligence by telling us “it’s just in our heads” or that it doesn’t exist at your company.  (Pretty sure I didn’t imagine the ignorant and inappropriate comments that have been said to me over the years.)  Acknowledge this happens everywhere and not just to women.  What is your organization’s approach  to creating an inclusive environment? Show me an organization that promotes respect for everyone and I just may believe that you really take equality seriously – and THAT ultimately is what most people want (including women).

 

 

 

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Getting the Job – The importance of your cover letter! (Part 2)

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In Part 1 of Getting the Job, I outlined the first two rules that “Generation Jobless” Millennials must understand about applying to positions.  In Part 2, I will outline Rule #3 as it applies to your cover letter and resume.

At InspireHUB, the team looks for the world’s most inspiring and exceptional candidates.  Like all employers, we want to hire candidates who will help carry our business forward. Due to the nature of our work, who we get to work with, and the dynamic we are looking to build we’ve created a very competitive environment. If you get offered a position within our company, it truly is a compliment!  Some of our “filtering” is pretty standard across the industry, and yet we are shocked by the amount of Millennials who are unaware of these standards and as a result are not even making it to the interview stage.  Here’s what you need to know:

Rule #3 – If you don’t have a cover letter, you’re out. If your cover letter is not customized, you’re out. If your cover letter (or resume) has any spelling mistakes, you’re out.

For every position that is posted employers are swamped with hundreds (in some cases thousands) of submissions.  This means, that the person doing the filtering has a couple of seconds to determine if your application will even be given the time of the day.  Consider this, if you can’t take the time to at least put together a cover letter to explain “why” you are applying for the position, then why should the employer take the time to consider you?

Don’t think you’re fooling the employer with your standard cover letter of “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear HR Manager”.  While a “standard cover letter” is at least slightly better than no cover letter, it still will disqualify you when it is clear that you are “mass blasting” in the hopes of getting someone, anyone, to bite.

Here’s what you should know.  The type of companies that would “bite” at your massive blast are not necessarily the ones you want to work for. To them, your just another number to fill one of their junior positions that “no one really wants” and “anyone can do”.  I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t exactly instill enthusiasm about your future career prospects with that organization.

At InspireHUB, we want passionate and enthusiastic candidates who want a career (not just a job) and want to wake up every day knowing that what they do is helping to change the world.  Our successful candidates come from all different backgrounds and walks of life, yet they ALL did the following:

#1 – Wrote a detailed custom cover letter specifically referencing “InspireHUB”.  Even when we had no website, they researched the employees names they found and referenced their knowledge of them in their letter. In short, they made it obvious that this wasn’t just “another” application.

#2 – They explained why they were interested in the position and allowed their personality to really shine.  One candidate sent us a a lengthy cover letter detailing her life.  It was one of the first letters that drew in every person who read it.  Her passion and energy leaped out from every line! Before she was ever invited to the interview, we felt we had some insight into her personality and we were excited to meet her.

#3 – It’s a small thing, but critical. No spelling mistakes.  Truth be told, we’ve ALL made this mistake. Submitting the “draft” cover letter by accident, or just completely overlooking a glaring spelling mistake.  When we are specifically looking for communicators or roles that require documentation this is a top priority!  Our team constantly says “details matter”.  If you don’t care enough to check your spelling, what else will you overlook while on the job?

The real world example? At InspireHUB, 80% of submissions never make it to the “look” pile.  Of those that do make it to the “look” pile, another 10% are usually dismissed for not being customized or having spelling mistakes.

In Part 3, of Getting the Job, we will review your steps to success when you finally get an offer to be interviewed. (Hint: What you do before and after the interview are just as important as the interview itself!)

Happy Job Hunting!

Getting The Job (Part 1)

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Until last year I held a wonderful distinction of being offered every position in which I’d ever received the opportunity to interview.  They say pride comes before a fall and so it was that my 21 year winning streak came to an unceremonious end that saw me in a room filled with people where the head of the organization actually fell asleep more than once during my interview.

Even now, the entire experience leaves me chuckling.  My energy and enthusiasm usually has the ability to at least engage my audience, but in that moment I was humbled by an elderly gentlemen who had simply had his fill of interviews. Yet, even before I walked into that room I had broken a number of my own “rules of engagement” for job competition.  Rules that I have since shared with a number of graduating students who were getting no where in their job search and in every case they have been able to land positions.

We are living in one of the most difficult times for graduate students. It’s particularly bad when the media has actually coined the term “Generation Jobless“.  That means the competition is FIERCE and unfortunately most post-secondary institutions are not spending time teaching their students on how to compete  which I personally think is a huge disservice.

With that in mind I thought I’d share my own rules from motivation to presentation that has provided me success through the years. If you’re a student (or even if you’re not) perhaps this will provide you some insight.

Rule #1 – Never (and I mean NEVER) apply for a position you are not absolutely enthusiastic about!
If you only take this one piece of advice this would be the most important thing.  The truth is that no matter how hard you try you cannot fake real enthusiasm.  I get it, life is tough, you just need a job – any job – and so you are willing to “settle”.  Here’s the thing, you are wasting the employers time and your time as well.  The employer will have a plethora of candidates and while you walk in with your fake enthusiasm there will be a candidate who truly believes this is their “dream” job.

Their hunger for that position means they are going to do their homework and they won’t be able to restrain their enthusiasm at wanting to work for that employer.  In other words – you’re a goner against that candidate.

This was the rule I broke when I went for that interview that I really didn’t want.  I rationalized my reasons for seeing  the interview through including my deep desire to not offend certain important people who asked me to apply for the position – but deep down I knew that the position would be the equivalent of watching paint dry on a wall.   When I thought about what it would feel like working at that role I actually groaned inwardly.

As you look at positions and read the descriptions, pay attention to how you feel when you think about doing that role. Even if the role is something totally different than what you saw yourself doing – if you feel that enthusiasm and excitement about chasing it you’re in the right direction.

Rule #2 – Don’t just do your homework on your employer – social stalk your potential new employer.
First of all, if you have ever showed up to an interview and actually asked the employer “what do you do?” then you’re beyond reach. (Note: Interviewing candidates over the years this has happened more than once. Every time it blows my mind.)  That aside, if you’ve felt pretty good that you’ve read your employers website and even some recent news – know this – it is NOT enough.  Every candidate serious about the position has done this.

This is a competition and you need to put on your detective hat and get to work.  You need to pull out a nugget that none of the other candidates have – and the best way to do that is to hit social media. Get on LinkedIn and read the profiles of all their employees, jump on Facebook and see what they post on their company page, head over Twitter and follow them to learn about what they think is important.

What you are trying to do is understand their culture and how you fit in and you need to do this PRIOR to preparing your cover letter and resume so that you know how to position yourself.

Music to an employer’s ears?

“One of the things I really think your company gets right is your interaction with customers on Facebook. I like how (funny, direct, professional) your responses are and it made me realize that I share the same approach to customer engagement as your company.”

From the employer’s viewpoint you just jumped ahead of the competition.  Not only have you jump started you’re own “employee orientation” but you cared enough to narrow in on the details of our work.  Impressive.  You just passed to the next round of interviews.

In Part 2 of this series I will take you through the following tips:

* Preparing your cover letter & resume.
* The rules of the interview. The 3 things to do (that you’re probably not) that will guarantee you progress in the competition.
* Understanding what the “post-interview” is and how to use it to your advantage.

The Power of Emotion

“The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men.” — Navy SEAL Creed

Most of the time we ladies assume that when it comes to understanding emotions that we have a leg-up, so to speak, on the guys.  It’s true that men and women are wired very differently and that for women, largely speaking, emotions dominate our existence.  Watch Mark Gungor’s Tale of Two Brains if you aren’t aware of the difference between the sexes.

A few years back I was doing research on warriors for a project I was doing and found myself reading the book Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. Ever since, I’ve had a fascination with Navy Seals and their outlook on life.  Their discipline for mental toughness is legendary.  Physically these guys are put through some of the toughest training on earth. The fact is if you ever find yourself in an extraordinary circumstance that requires you to be rescued out of a war zone, this is who you would want to show up.

Now, we civilians like to share our “war stories” that usually happen in the corporate halls of our businesses.  It’s true there is bullying, and really cruel people who can be found.  We may even like to boast of our physical endurance to travel around the globe and still conduct our business. But somehow, my story of endurance which involved an unexpected one hour power walk in 6-inch heels that ended with my feet bleeding while I smiled and presented to potential prospects like nothing was the matter – just doesn’t compare.

That said, the ability to control your emotion is something that I don’t believe is often talked about by women in the workplace.  Now before I begin, let me preface this by the fact that I don’t mind it when women cry – especially if it’s for the right reason.  Tears of joy? Bring it! What I am talking about is the “freak out” moment that I have witnessed by women at all levels when something hits the fan.

It usually look like this.  I’m working in my office and suddenly there’s a person standing in my door. They step inside, shut the door, and suddenly I am hearing about a “crisis”. A VIP in the  organization’s life, be it an executive, investor, or important client is not happy and if we don’t do something, immediately, the world is going to end!

I usually listen, and invariably I’ve had to get to the point where I need to give them a reality check. It usually goes something like. “Question for you.  Do you think when Hillary Clinton or Condoleezza Rice is faced with a crisis that she tackles it like this? Or do you think she calmly calls a meeting to collect the information and then make an educated decision?”

I know, I’m Canadian and I’m using all these American references but bear with me. The thing is, for most women around the world, the Hillary and Condoleezza reference immediately resonate.  They “get” it. They usually laugh and say “This isn’t the White House.” to which I reply “Exactly, our issues are not near as big. So let’s just take a deep breath and deal with the situation for what it is.”

Let me give you one more scenario to understand the importance of learning to control  your emotions.  Picture yourself in the fight of your life and you’re losing to the bad guys. You are helpless and you need to choose someone who is going to fight their way in to the worst situation in the world to get your butt out of there.  You have 2 choices.  Both are great at hand to hand combat, excellent shots, and strong enough to throw you over a shoulder and get you to safety.  But one jumps out of their skin at loud sounds and looks uncomfortable when confronted. Given the same scenario the other person looks like they are out for a stroll in a park. Who are you going to pick to lead you to safety? Of course you’re picking the one who is calm and appears unaffected. Underneath they may be feeling a range of emotions but let’s be honest, we want to be lead by the person who is instilling confidence in us and jumping out of your skin at every sound does not instill confidence about the other person’s abilities. The same goes in the workplace.  If you are always in a state of “crisis” which can look like: gossiping about impending doom, stirring up “issues”, raising your voice,  etc. you are effectively reducing the confidence of others in you.

That is why becoming emotionally strong is critical to success. In the case of Navy Seals, that ability is the difference between life and death. In your life and in your work – it can be the difference between success and failure.  Here’s what the Navy Seal Master Chief Will Guild has to say about how mastering your emotions in a Men’s Health Magazine article. (Hint: It’s not what you think.)

1. Put Teammates First

“This is an exoteric responsibility—that is, ‘imparting to someone else’—and it’s missing from our culture. When you are acting exoterically, you are acting ethically. How do I treat others? How do I fit into the team? What is my responsibility? Ask yourself these questions, no matter your profession.”

2. Second-Guess Yourself

“We all have monkey brains. We think terrible things sometimes. Quitting, abandoning something important to us. But don’t let that disturb you too much, because it happens to everyone. Really, who you are is your second or even third thought.”

3. Allow Yourself to Fear

“Some people become afraid, and they find it overwhelming. When that happens, reach out to family, friends, or colleagues. Fear is a shared experience—you’ll get a lot of energy from the people around you. Being okay with being afraid is the first step to overcoming it.”

4. Control Your Emotions Physically

“Ask a family member or friend to study your posture when you’re happy or content. Then practice it, over and over. Your psyche will follow your body. You can literally control your emotions this way.”

5. Break Big Goals into Small Targets

“How do you eat an elephant? One mouthful at a time. Don’t wake up Monday morning and say, ‘Four days and 16 hours till Friday.’ Instead, wake up and say, ‘Two hours till breakfast.’ And then, ‘Three hours till lunch.’ Try to stay in the present.”

6. Have Faith in Yourself

“This is the most crucial part of mental toughness. It’s something I tell all the SEALs. Have faith that you’ll figure it out. You are a lot stronger physically and mentally than you think you are.”

The Power of Struggle

Be honest. Are you waking up this morning and dragging yourself into your workplace? Deep down you know you are intended for so much more than what you are presently doing.  Or perhaps, you don’t have a job and you are faced with another daunting day filled with trying to find a job – any job – and deep down you wish you could be so lucky as to be in a job you don’t like. Or maybe, you just found out yesterday that you have a critical illness and literally you are starting the fight of your life.

Struggle. It’s the one thing we are all guaranteed to experience in life, and the one thing most people try to avoid.  Have you ever actually read the definition of struggle?  It means “to progress with difficulty”.

The interesting thing about struggling is that there is little else in this world that can produce such positive effects in your life – if you allow it to do its work.  There’s this great song by Mary Mary and in it the lyrics say:

“Can’t be mad at the things you been through cuz they built your muscle
Now you’re stronger than you ever been they can’t stop your hustle”

Take a moment to reflect on that.  Do you remember when you were a teenager and certain life events felt like “the end of the world” – and now you look back and laugh because you’re now an adult and have had to face so much more? We begin learning this lesson from the time we are children over, and over, and over. Yet, when difficulty comes our way we still ask “Why me?”

Well, here’s the good news. You’re not special.  lol.  The universe is not conspiring against you to bring only “you” a struggle.  Life is struggle for anyone who has breath in their lungs.  You can take that to the bank.  The question is not “if” life will bring you a struggle but “when” or more accurately “how often”.

Each and every time you are provided an opportunity to grow.

Whether it is learning how to interact with the difficult people in your life in a way that brings respect to the situation, making lifestyle changes to improve your health, or learning a new skill to change your future – each and every opportunity to transform has struggle at its root.

What this means is that whatever difficult moment you are facing today, is an opportunity for you to become strong.    As you walk into a job you hate, a conversation you dread, a gym that intimidates, or a terrifying doctor’s appointment – determine to look for the lessons in what you are facing. Look back and see how it is building your muscle in that area.

Over the years I began referring to my various life challenges as my “training ground”. Whenever I was faced with a fight of some kind I would take a deep breath and say to myself, “Well, how else am I going to learn?” Then I’d make the decision to view the situation as a challenge to overcome. I’d determine who my coach would be to help get me through – a trusted friend or mentor – because it’s important to have someone in your corner who has more experience than you and can guide you. (By the way, this applies whether you are 8 or 80. There is always someone with more experience.)  In the midst of the fight, when it got really difficult they’d pull me aside, give me a pep talk, point out my strengths, show me where I was making any mistakes, make me take a drink of water, pat me on the shoulder and say “Now get back in there.”

The result? I can handle things today that I never could have just a few years ago. I look back on situations that were difficult at the time like an adult looking back on their childhood – and I’m grateful – because I’ve learned a great deal. The ladies of Mary Mary put it this way:

“It’s alright to crawl before you walk it’s alright to walk before you run
But if you wanna get what you never got gotta do something that you never done”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Top 5 online tools I adore!

I’m back in the world of technology, right where I belong….  I’m pretty sure that’s the beginning of some lyrics to a fantastic song.  In celebration of my return to all things tech I want to share my current favourite SAAS tools that I love because they’ve simplified my life! Here they are:

#1 – http://www.projectmanager.com

Back at the turn of the century right after the automobile was invented and just before Y2K: eager project managers who were taking their courses to get their PMPs were forced to create their own dashboards to manage all their projects. The horror! It was like living in the dark ages. Enter the good king and his mighty knights of the project management round table who saw this evil and created http://www.projectmanager.com .  I have years of PM experience under my belt but this tool is SO user-friendly that I tested it on those who really haven’t been exposed to the world of PMP and within an hour they were mapping out multiple projects. Don’t believe me? They have a free trial so go check it out yourself.

#2 – http://www.prezi.com

Everyone knows about this presentation tool but I really needed to add it here.  Heart-wrenchingly I was behind in the discovery of this tool but I’m sure that PPT is watching its share slip – or rather – swoosh away with the ability to create really really cool presentations.  I appreciate this as a person who has to endure boring presenters on a regular basis.  Look at this way, just because you’re a bore doesn’t mean your presentation can’t rock!

#3 – http://www.goanimate.com

Once upon a time I had a television show and famously I announced to one of my designers that I would need them to whip up “5 minutes of animation” to fill a gap in our show…and could they have it done for tomorrow please and thank you.  The look of death was appropriate. The fact they still talk about it 6 years later shows my utter lack of appreciation for the effort that went into the masterpiece I ended up receiving.  That said, http://www.goanimate.com would have solved all our problem had existed back then.  It’s easy to use and I love the fact that I can do voice overs right from my computer for my animation!  I also just found  www.powtoon.com/ which I haven’t yet tested but it looks promising – and they use the word “awesomeness” in their pitch so I’m all over it.

#4 – http://www.piktochart.com

“Infographics” are everywhere.  We live in a very visual world with way too much content for us to consume so it makes sense that presenting that data in an infographic is going to help  you cut through the clutter.  Once again, here’s an item that once required graphic designer and now http://www.piktochart.com has created really great templates that makes it looks like you paid the big bucks when you didn’t.  Saves time. Saves money. What’s not to love?

#5 – http://www.scribblemaps.com

Ok, I have to admit that I have a personal connection to both the developers of this tool. That said, it really is the EASIEST way to draw and share maps.  I’ve used it in sales to quickly upload a list of targets and map out their geography so that I can better use my time when I’m in that region or area.  Others use it to map out the plans for their gardens,  police use it for investigations, etc. You get the idea.  It’s extremely useful with numerous applications!

Enjoy!

Glass Cracker: Kristina Verner

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Even as I start to write this I’m chuckling to myself because I know I’m about to get in trouble. I’m ok with that, because the means justifies the end.  When I first moved back to the region I now live, one of the first woman I met was next to me on a treadmill.  What was striking about the encounter was that we were both women, in technology, the same age, and blonde.  Until that moment, I had never had a person that understood the complexities of being all those things together.

We also discovered that we were both hugely passionate about where we lived and immediately starting dragging one another into volunteer projects.  Then in 2010, I accepted a position that required us to work closely together.  The result? I only admired her more.

She’s got a growing list of awards (Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award winner anyone?) and she was voted teacher of the year for the courses she taught when she wasn’t busily coordinating community partners and helping our region be named one of the Top 7 Most Intelligent Communities. In 2011, when my community got named because of her I immediately saw my phone ring, then my blackberry buzz, then an email pop-up and I knew that I was about to kiss my personal life good-bye for a period of time.  I picked up the phone to hear her voice filled with energy “I’m going to need you on this.” Followed by the biggest compliment I’ve received to date “because I need another me.”

I actually don’t remember saying yes, but I’m sure I must have because before I hung up the phone I had three emails, reports to review, and a 7 am breakfast meeting scheduled for the next day. The relentless work would cause me to cancel my birthday and her to cancel an anniversary.  Work life balance? Not this time but we were on a mission.  Welcome to the world of glass cracking with Ms. Verner.

Recently, she headed up the road to Toronto Ontario.  Not surprisingly I got the call that after being there for less than a year the City of Toronto had now made it on to the short list for intelligent communities. I joked with her (half seriously) that perhaps her arrival had instantly made the city smarter and that was the secret sauce.  She asked about the chances of me taking some time off from my own community work to go up the road and work on this with her – our laughter filled the lines. “Not this time.” I replied. “This time I’m celebrating my birthday.”

So what makes Ms. Verner so successful at helping communities find their “smart spot”? The fact is that she has the unique ability to dive into a community’s fabric and uncover the stories that most overlook.  It also helps that understanding how technology and human behaviour intersect happens to be a passion that makes her see connections that others do not.

Her commitment to technology for the betterment of positive life outcomes in communities is inspiring.  In her current role as the Director of Intelligent Communities for Waterfront Toronto she is responsible for building out one of the world’s preeminent intelligent communities.  We spend most of our conversations sharing technology strategies being used to make differences in developing nations, bantering between my Star Trek loyalty versus her dark force of Star Wars, and discussing her latest foray into intelligent communities.  We also strategize on ways to  get more women on to tech panels and bemoan the fact that despite all our advances as society  we still find ourselves as the lone woman in a sea of men at our different tech meetings.

That said, her drive and passion makes her a force to be reckoned with. She continues to break down barriers and pave ways for our communities and it’s for this reason that Ms. Verner is definitely one of my favourite Glass Crackers!