Author Archives: Courtney DeLaura

Apr 11, 2022

1,266 words | 5 minutes

A month of 2022 International Women’s Week (IWW 2022) events conclude, but the momentum continues.

On March 8th, the world celebrated International Women’s Day, and from February 28th to April 6th, Invest Ottawa, alongside dozens of strong local, regional, and national collaborators, marked the 4th annual International Women’s Week: IWW 2022.

Across industries spanning tech, entrepreneurship, academia, research, media, investment, smart mobility, cybersecurity, and beyond, IWW 2022 addressed the critical opportunities and challenges facing women leaders. Each event supported a shared goal to expedite change and move the dial to build a collaborative and inclusive community of women leaders from all walks of life to achieve a significant impact on our economy and society.

The spirit, goals and values of IWW 2022 live on

IWW 2022 is not just simply a series of events but a powerful driver for long-term, sustainable change for our community and the world. It will take women and men working together as a unified force to drive change and create a safer, healthier and more equitable and inclusive future for all women from every walk of life—the heart of IWW 2022.

And although the celebration of IWW 2022 has come and gone, the collective goal as a tech ecosystem and business community to take action continues to create a critical mass of successful women leaders who are making a positive impact in our world.

We encourage you to digest the inspiring and empowering content filled with authentic and actionable insight that you can put to work for the days, weeks, and months ahead to stay refreshed and committed to making significant progress towards an equitable and inclusive future and community for women.

Stellar Content from 8 Powerful IWW 2022 Events You’ll Want to Bookmark:

1. The F-Factor: Fueling Women Founders

Frank discussions on the ‘F’ words that impact women tech entrepreneurs and business leaders from every walk of life who are fighting through the pandemic, demonstrating fierce resilience, and scaling firms in the pandemic era.

2. Women Angel Investor Breakfast

Only 2.3% of investments went to companies led by a woman-identifying founder in 2020. Get equipped and inspired with actionable insight to help move the dial to get more women on the other side of the table making investment decisions. This session explores the opportunity, benefits and impact of angel investing.

3. Women Leading Globally in Cybersecurity

The world requires 3.5 million professionals. Yet, today, women make up just 20% of the global cybersecurity workforce. There is a growing labour shortage and gender and diversity gap in this critical field. Cybersecurity changemakers drive discussion on what it takes for women to break barriers in a billion-dollar market and workforce.

4. Better Together

Evidence shows that when allies—especially men—are deliberately engaged in gender inclusion programs, 96% of organizations see progress, compared to only 30% of organizations where allies are not engaged. This session brings authentic and frank discussions on how allyship is key to moving the dial for inclusivity in the workplace.

5. Women Leaders of Mainstreet

Real and authentic discussions aimed to inspire and equip women leaders of mainstreet and get actionable insights to put to work to strengthen your business during unprecedented times and tomorrow. This session also includes tactical, practical ways to address and overcome key personal, professional and business challenges, invest in yourself, and employ novel self-care and mental health approaches.

6. Driving Customer Success

Practical advice you can put to work to scale your company, generate greater revenue, acquire new clients, and achieve greater ROI and profitability through customer success.

7. Empower: Creating a Safer, More Equitable & Inclusive Future for All Women

It’s not news that the pandemic disproportionately impacted women, particularly women from marginalized communities. Emerging data show that the pandemic has intensified violence against women, leaving a new crisis to battle—the Shadow Pandemic. This session provides open and honest conversation with visionary leaders and experts to discuss key imperatives impacting women during and beyond the pandemic, including gender-based violence, mental health, gender identity journey, and purpose-driven, inclusive leadership.

8. Women Driving the Smart Mobility Revolution

Award-winning founders, innovators and researchers. Leaders driving global innovation collaboration to improve our world. World-leading experts in self-driving cars, AI, 5G and robotics. This event goes full throttle, engaging women driving CAV and smart mobility from technology and innovation to global markets, investment and policy.

A Special Power of Why Podcast Series: IWW 2022 Featured Leaders

And if you’re still looking for more gems of wisdom and sources of inspiration, the IWW 2022 Featured Leaders’ stories you’ll want to take in. We partnered with Naomi Haile from the Power of Why Podcast as she unpacks the ‘why’ of local tech and businesswomen leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators who are building their lives and careers with purpose and intention. Five inspirational leaders are selected to represent International Women’s Week each year. They are role models achieving a significant impact on our economy, community and society and embody the spirit, goals and values of IWW.

Headshot of Stacey Martin featured on the Power of Why PodcastHere’s How to Create the Business You’ve Always Wanted with Stacey Martin

Before founding a fashion startup showcased at New York Fashion Week, she performed on Broadway. Today, Stacey Martin shares what she’s learned as a serial entrepreneur—overcoming failure, finding mentors and raising capital during a pandemic.

Tune in or read

The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence and Healthcare with Dr. Ashleigh Kennedy

Ashleigh joined us to share how she co-founded Neurovine from personal experience and professional need, why a values-based business is key to securing top talent, what it’ll take the health sector to adopt new tech, and how modern concussion treatment is helping patients do more than recover, but to thrive.

Tune in or read

No, Anti-Colonial Ideas Aren’t “Radical” with Sabre Pictou Lee

A highly acclaimed Indigenous speaker, trainer, liaison and researcher, Sabre’s company has supported the Canada Council for the Arts, Assembly of First Nations and Global Centre for Pluralism (to name a few). Today, Sabre shares why anti-colonial ways and concepts aren’t radical, how she built her business from the ground up, and the frameworks you can apply to make yours more inclusive.

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The Power of Data, Women in STEM, and Sponsors with Solmaz Shahalizadeh

Your story = your power: whether you’re a founder impressing new investors or a business going public. Add data and you’re sure to succeed. Solmaz harnesses that power to support diverse founders at Backbone Angels: investing in women and non-binary founders, focusing on investments in Black, Indigenous, and Women of Colour-led companies. She shares why great career paths aren’t linear, what you need to know to impress investors and the difference between sponsors and mentors (and why you should have both).

Tune in or read

Headshot of Dimple ThomasWhy Taking Risks Are the Best Thing You Can Do for Your Career with Dimple Thomas

Dimple Thomas wants you to embrace the opportunity in uncertainty. As Ericsson’s Cloud RAN Systems-DevOps Engineering Manager, she does just that—with an eye to building a future where Zoom calls could be replaced by life-sized holograms. Dimple shares why she’s never charted her career path, why you should take risks at work, and tech’s potential for transformational good.

Tune in or read


In support of its Women Founders and Owners strategy, Invest Ottawa offers programs and services that enable and accelerate the growth and success of women entrepreneurs from every walk of life. Visit www.investottawa.ca/women to learn more!

 

Posted in Blog, Ottawa Success
Apr 6, 2022

1,102 words | 4 minutes

When App8 was launched, the company was filling a void in the foodservice industry and helping restaurants save money and clientele by offering diners a quick way to settle their bill and leave. App8 allowed people to get their bill and pay it without having to wait for the server to drop it off and then return with the payment machine. That meant diners could wind down their evening faster, people waiting for their table would get it sooner and servers could avoid diner frustration.  It was a win-win-win.

“We were doing the digital dining experience before it was cool and became necessary,” says Elias Hage, CEO of App8. “The problem we were originally solving was around the guest experience. Say you’ve just finished a wonderful meal and you’re waiting forever for the bill. The last step, which is administrative and transactional, turns an experience from a good one to a bad one. Being frustrated and waiting is the last thing you remember.”

Hage says the reality is that restaurants lose a lot of money when that scenario occurs because some customers are annoyed they can’t leave when they’re done, and because people waiting at the door may give up waiting and go elsewhere.

“Then you’ve got your service staff that spends 16 per cent of their time just doing the payment — delivering the bill, getting the machine,” Hage says. “That’s an extra $50,000 in the restaurant’s pocket just by digitizing the payment process.”

Things were moving along nicely with App8 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and forced many restaurants to offer takeout and online ordering to stay in business during lockdowns. Hage immediately saw new opportunities for his technology. The company, which launched in 2018, revisited its product in 2020 and then relaunched, with several more offerings at the beginning of 2021.

“What we do now at App8 is provide an omnichannel, restaurant-branded ordering solution to mid-market and enterprise restaurant brands,” Hage says. “We offer digital dine-in ordering, takeout ordering and a data portal seamlessly integrated with the restaurant point-of-sale  system.”

App8’s first customers included Fathers and Sons Restaurant and Al’s Diner in Ottawa. Then, when COVID hit, everything accelerated.

“At the time, there were a lot of other companies that wanted to automate everything, but the reality is that in the dining space in North America, there is a human interaction,” he says. “That was one of the challenges that killed other companies that started to do this. When we started on this journey, we knew we couldn’t just automate everything. You have to make it work for restaurant operators, guests and staff.”

Before COVID, App8 predicted a five-to-10-year timeline before consumers would be ready for a fully automated experience, but COVID shortened that ramp to one year as restaurant diners started to demand an ordering experience that was contactless, convenient and safe.

“Customers are ready for digital menus and to do their own ordering on and off premises,” he says. “And food service establishments can no longer sustain selling their products only using high commission services. They need to take ownership of their own solutions for on and off premise digital dining.”

As such, Hage and his “lean team” have been working on providing for all of those needs and also anticipating “where the needle will land” in a post-COVID world. They consulted restaurants and then they expanded their product line to address the needs they identified.

Along the way, the Ottawa company attracted the attention of Boston Pizza’s Canadian-based chain and Bowlero — the worldwide leader in bowling entertainment, with about 300 locations in the U.S.

“A lot of food service brands are adopting digital dining as part of their own portfolio,” Hage says. “The future of digital is omnichannel — dine-in, pickup and delivery and you can choose to automate and internally manage as many of these as you want.  We focus on building the best possible omnichannel digital experience for mid-market and enterprise  establishments. Today we’re working with some of the largest brands out there.”

Hage has used the services of Invest Ottawa to great effect so far. Soon after he had the idea for App8, he made an appointment to discuss it with an advisor at Invest Ottawa.

“I was pretty green at the time and I had a 90-minute meeting,” he says. “I went into that meeting expecting to talk about the strategy and the business plan. But the advisor spent most of the time talking about whether I should launch. There are a lot of things that are Googleable, but you need advisors to help you hone in on the details. And there are a lot of things that aren’t as tangible — you learn that you’ll have to sacrifice. The advisor asked if I was ready to do what it takes. Without that early conversation, I don’t think this business would have happened. It was one of the most valuable conversations I had.”

Soon, he was connected to an entrepreneur-in-residence who helped him work his way through his first pitches in the early days. Through that advice, he learned to keep his elevator pitch simple.

Hage is now applying to use Invest Ottawa’s 5G test bed because of 5G’s speeding in sending and receiving data.

“5G is going to augment the foodservice industry’s ability to manage rich content — content between consumers, establishments and across the network,” Hage says. “Today, one of the key criteria for multilocation brands is to have effective and efficient content-management — the menus, photos, pricing and syncing that across a network of locations. We plug right into content management for a multilocation site. They can manage their content centrally and it can talk to their other systems, such as point of sale, rewards and loyalty. Bringing all that together is important and 5G will increase the richness of the content that can be transmitted and communicated across this entire network. It will create a huge opportunities for food and beverage establishments to leverage their digital ecosystem to grow and reach more consumers.”

Some of the success App8 has experienced that Hage credits back to Invest Ottawa’s sound advice includes growing the company’s customer base from an Ottawa footprint of 20 clients to working with some of the largest national brands, representing more than 600 locations across the U.S. and Canada.

As a result of the team’s focus on guest experience and restaurant feedback, end-user engagement with App8’s products has grown by 20 times since the start of 2021 and is expected to continue its growth trajectory.

Are you curious about the 5G program? Turn curiosity into action and test your 5G compatibility today. Connect with Invest Ottawa to find out more.

Apr 5, 2022

The pandemic has spurred tremendous shifts in the way businesses operate to fulfill the needs of their customers and equally importantly—their employees. Often the case, employers have had to remain agile and pivot quickly while forming new cultural norms—a remote work culture. The adaptation of this new workplace culture means finding ways to keep employees engaged, productive, and happy. 

Three Ottawa companies excelled at just that and created a space where their employees could continue to feel empowered in their day-to-day roles.  

Invest Ottawa (IO) is excited to announce the results of its fall 2021 eNPS service – a core element of the ScaleUp program, offered semi-annually to companies who participate in the program. Each round, IO identifies the top three employers in IO’s ScaleUp program with 20+ employees and $2+ million in revenue or capital, based on the experiences of employees.    

Certain larger IO Accelerator companies who met the employee threshold have also been invited to participate in the past two rounds.  

Custom software solutions experts bitHeads, meeting management software designers Fellow, and e-commerce error monitoring platform Noibu are the big winners of Fall 2021. These exceptional companies garnered impressive scores that make them some of the most exciting places to work in the Nation’s Capital.  

An offshoot of the Net Promoter Score (NPS) which measures customer experience and predicts business growth, an eNPS examines the employee side of the equation, gathering qualitative feedback on employee satisfaction, enthusiasm and loyalty. Additionally, it allows participating companies to compare their scores against the averages of other firms in the program, helping to identify opportunities for improvement versus their scaling peers.  

An eNPS ranges from -100 to 100. To get a score, all participants (employees) complete a survey that asks them to select a number from 0 – 10. Each respondent is then categorized based on the number they chose.  

  • Detractors select between 0 – 6  
  • Passives select 7 or 8  
  • Promoters select 9 or 10  

A total score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of “detractors” from the percentage of “promoters.” According to HR Technologist, a good eNPS can range from 10 – 30. But the average score of all surveys conducted by Invest Ottawa for 2021 knocked that number right out of the park, coming in at a whopping 65 – an impressive number by any standard! To top it off, this round scored an average of 70! 

Lynn Stevens is Invest Ottawa’s ScaleUp HR Advisor, and she’s been an integral part of implementing the eNPS service, helping to onboard firms, interpret results, and develop improvement plans where needed: 

“The eNPS service gives companies amazing insight into what is happening inside their organizations. It is a great jumping off point. Great companies, like the high-scoring top tech companies in Ottawa, recognize that the eNPS provides critical information to help them improve and stay an employer of choice. The companies know that it isn’t just a number but rather great insights on areas of interest and improvement for their employees. Companies are also reassured about the things their employees love about working with them and they (the companies) can make sure they continue to do those things, because that is why people love to show up and give their best every day!” 

The eNPS service is an invaluable initiative and is becoming increasingly vital to businesses and companies. If your internal culture is top of mind and your workforce is engaged and happy in their roles, your customer satisfaction will show through.  

 “At bitHeads it’s part of our DNA to have an area at HQ for our employees to come down and decompress after a successful week,” says Martin Savard, Vice-President of Sales and Business Development, bitHeads. “It’s been paramount for the last 25 years to have a space for our employees to embrace our culture and to drive innovation at the same time.” 

A solid eNPS is a critical indicator of companies who are getting it right – putting the needs, values, realities, and ambitions of people first. This leads to a happy, healthy team that feels unified, fulfilled, and respected.    

Noibu is a prime example of just that. This past year, they put in place a Culture Committee, which includes 40% of its employee base. Noibu is not new to receiving high eNPS scores as they also placed top three in Spring 2021.  

“It’s cliché to say, but I never knew I could enjoy my job so much, and that surely reflects in the eNPS score,” said Brianna Cook, Customer Success Manager and Culture Committee Co-Chair at Noibu. “Noibu always provides a great balance of autonomy and support to feel confident at work on a daily basis.”

There’s no better way to attract better talent than word of mouth. Having that high eNPS score means employees are satisfied and are therefore more likely to recommend their workplace to their peers.  

“We want everyone at Fellow to have the opportunity to learn as much as possible about as many parts of the business as they want,” said Aydin Mirzaee, CEO and Co-Founder at Fellow. “A core value of ours is ‘experiment and grow’, which we apply not only to company growth but also for everyone in the company. Fellow is more than a product, we’re a team on a mission and we’re all builders.” 

“While the top three firms receive recognition, the overall strength of the eNPS results from participating firms across Ottawa is a clear indication that they have built a powerful foundation for future growth that could ultimately see them scale their teams and revenue beyond the $100M mark – one of the overarching goals of the ScaleUp Program,” said Nick Quain, Vice President of Venture Development at Invest Ottawa.  


About Invest Ottawa’s ScaleUp Program 

Invest Ottawa ScaleUp program assetScaleUp is designed to shorten the leadership learning curve and help companies achieve rapid growth and compete globally. Offered by Invest Ottawa, ScaleUp is for high-growth firms in the region who have reached $2 million in revenue or capital and are on the path to attaining $100 million. 

Through ScaleUp, firms have access to elite advisors, a network of peers, top-calibre talent, new markets and other growth resources like the eNPS service, which measures employee experience and predicts business growth. ScaleUp offers companies the opportunity to choose the right resources and services for them and for their leadership teams as they expand and evolve.  

For more information on the program or to see if ScaleUp is the right fit for your firm, visit investottawa.ca/scaleup/ 

 

Mar 30, 2022
(Photo courtesy of Ottawa Tourism)

Spring is here and what a perfect way to spring into action after the long wintry months than to find new learnings to elevate you and your business. With many companies closing their books during the fiscal year at the end of March, now is the perfect time to rejuvenate with fresh knowledge to start the year right.

Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, early-stage business or a scaleup company, our workshops and events run by Invest Ottawa and community partners are designed to help you get the knowledge you need to accelerate. Learn from subject matter experts, seasoned entrepreneurs, and professionals across a broad range of business topics. From starting a business, marketing, accounting and customer service to scaling your business, networking, leadership and personal growth, there are events by Invest Ottawa and across our city for everyone looking to amplify their entrepreneurial and business skills.

We’ve highlighted ten Ottawa events happening this month for our entrepreneur and business community:

1. Data Silos, the Information Disease

Date: April 5
Time: 6:00 – 7:00 pm
Organizer: Kanata Carleton Small Business Network
Cost: Free

If you are a business that collects any type of information, this seminar is for you:

  • From Data to Information to Knowledge
  • Data Silos impact on Business profitability
  • Compliance, Security, and the Data Silos effect
  • Conquering Data Silos strategies

Guest speaker: Fadi Shureih, Vice President of Enara Technologies and expert information management advisor.

Register

2. Spring Cleaning for Businesses: MDK Webinar Series (presented by Invest Ottawa Sponsor MDK Business Law)

Date: April 5
Time: 10:00 – 11:30 am
Organizer: Invest Ottawa Education Centre
Cost: Free

Whether your business is scaling up or down, having up-to-date records and agreements can make or break your ability to seize a window of opportunity. In this highly interactive and fast-paced workshop designed for an Invest Ottawa audience (Teach, Talk, Try), MDK Business Law will share best practices for “spring cleaning” your corporate records, commercial agreements and the collection, use and retention of personal information.

Register

3. Discover Technata Career Fair

Date: April 5
Time: 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
Organizer: Kanata North Business Association
Cost Free

Looking for your next dream job?

The Discover Technata career fair is taking place on April 5th at the Brookstreet Hotel. This is the perfect opportunity for job seekers to learn how to live, work, play and learn in Canada’s largest technology park.

Typically drawing thousands of job seekers, the career fair offers attendees access to some of the biggest names in Kanata North tech – now all under one roof.

Register

4. SaaS Showcase

Date: April 6
Time: 5:00 – 8:00 pm
Organizer: L-SPARK
Cost: $20

There’s nothing better than authentic, IRL events. So we’re bringing SaaS Showcase back, live in Ottawa!

SaaS Showcase is a chance to watch the 7 dynamic entrepreneurs that make up our 8th SaaS Accelerator cohort pitch their startups on stage (in real life) while connecting with friends and members of the Ottawa tech community.

Register

5. Market Research Techniques and Resources

Date: April 6
Time: 10:00 – 11:30 am
Organizer: Invest Ottawa Education Centre
Cost: Free

Market research helps you to better understand your market. It is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the success of your business idea. This seminar discusses how to conduct market research, outlines the types of market research, and provides tips on how to plan your search and be effective. Included are specific examples to illustrate how to use the many free resources available to you to obtain specific information.

Register

6. IWW 2022: Women Driving the Smart Mobility Revolution

Date: April 6
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Organizer: Invest Ottawa
Cost: Free

On April 6, join Area X.O, operated by Invest Ottawa and in collaboration with Women in Automotive Tech for Women Driving the Smart Mobility Revolution.

This event is joined by award-winning founders, innovators and researchers driving global innovation to improve our world and are experts in self-driving cars, AI, 5G and robotics. From technology and innovation to global markets, investments, and policy, walk away with actionable insight and inspiration by women leading in smart mobility.

The event includes a keynote fireside chat and panel discussions that will:

  • Provide expertise and stimulate provocative dialogue on the current state of smart mobility; key opportunities, challenges, big ideas, evolving markets and investment trends
  • Explore the key needs, priorities and gaps facing this sector, including the need to build a strong, diverse and inclusive pipeline of women leaders for this sector spanning technology, business, investment and policy
  • Discuss strategies to attract, develop and retain more women from every walk of life in smart mobility, and increase the overall competitiveness of this sector

Register

7. Algonquin College RE/ACTION: Applied Research Showcase

Date: April 8
Time: 11:00 am – 12:15 pm
Organizer: Algonquin College Office of Applied Research, Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Cost: Free

The event highlights leading-edge applied research being done in collaboration with industry, institutional, and community partners, providing a glimpse into the future of technology and the current state of innovation.

Discover the incredible findings and creations of our learner-driven research projects. Ranging from robotics to web design, building science to social innovation, and anything in between, the projects our students work on are incredibly diverse.

This virtual showcase will also provide an opportunity for employers to engage talent and collaborative opportunities in support of their businesses’ growth and impact.

Register

8. Starting Your Business Information Session

Date: April 11
Time: 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Organizer: Invest Ottawa Education Centre
Cost: Free

Have a business idea but don’t know where to start? Attend this information session to learn the basic rules and regulations you will be required to follow and how Invest Ottawa can assist you in starting and growing your business. This beginner level seminar acts as an introduction to entrepreneurship.

We will discuss the basic information needed from the municipality (business licensing), the province (business structures) and the federal government (HST and Business Numbers). We will also be discussing funding programs as well as community resources.

Register

9. Doing business with the Government of Canada

Date: April 11
Time: 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Organizer: Procurement Assistance Canada, National Capital Region
Cost: Free

The Government of Canada buys billions of dollars worth of goods and services each year to help deliver programs and services to Canadians. Find out whether the Government of Canada buys your goods or services. Procurement Assistance Canada would like to help your company do business with the federal government. Webinar topics include:

  • Overview of contracting process
  • Registering in supplier databases
  • Finding key purchasing contacts
  • Searching for business opportunities
  • Bidding on opportunities
  • Obtaining security clearances

Register

10. #WICxFortune100 Lunch & Learn with Salesforce Ventures

Date: April 22
Time: 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Organizer: Women in Cloud
Cost: Free

#WICxFortune100 Lunch and Learn Series is a unique and enriching experience for women tech entrepreneurs to connect with Fortune 100 companies, learn about digital transformation opportunities, and accelerate gender equity.

Join Women in Cloud on April 22 at the upcoming WICxFortune100 Lunch & Learn Series with Salesforce. Events like this one are the perfect occasion for attendees to connect and learn with Salesforce’s top leaders and decision-makers. It’s also an excellent opportunity to learn how to do business with Salesforce and explore new jobs and career opportunities.

What to expect from the #WICxFortune100 Lunch and Learn Series?

-Access to job opportunities focused on digital transformation.
-Learn how to navigate and do business with Salesforce.
-Create new connections with key leaders of the industry.
-Discover innovative enterprise-ready cloud solutions created by women tech founders via Cloud Solution Showcase.

Register


Visit our events calendar to view the full range of events and workshops happening this month. Want to become part of our vibrant entrepreneurial community and be the first to know about entrepreneur news, opportunities, and resources? Subscribe to our business community newsletter.

 

Mar 24, 2022

This featured story is brought to you by the Power of Why Podcast in collaboration with Invest Ottawa. We teamed up to produce this special series to celebrate women leading in Ottawa for International Women’s Week (IWW 2022) and shine the spotlight on our IWW 2022 featured leaders to unpack their passion and purpose.

Each year, five inspirational leaders are selected to represent International Women’s Week. They are role models achieving a significant impact on our economy, community and society, and embody the spirit, goals and values of IWW.  


Dimple Thomas wants you to embrace the opportunity in uncertainty. 

As an Engineering Manager in Ericsson’s Cloud RAN Systems-DevOps, she does just that—with an eye to creating a high-speed, bandwidth and low latency future where Zoom calls might be replaced by life-sized holograms of your loved ones.

Committed to building systems that truly serve everyone, Dimple has also dedicated herself to empowering diverse leaders to succeed in tech as Theme Driver of Diversity and Inclusion at Ericsson.

Dimple shared why she’s never charted her career path, why you should take risks at work, and tech’s potential for transformational good.

This episode is for you if:

  • You worry that your career isn’t following a clear, linear path 
  • You’re curious about 5G technology and how it’ll impact your life
  • You want to see more diversity in tech 
  • You’ve recently been promoted but don’t feel like you’re ready for the job

Listen to the episode on Spotify / iTunes / Google Podcasts / Castbox

Tune in to the podcast or take the time to digest each article found below. Regardless the format, there is stellar content in store for you!


Naomi Haile: I’d love for you to share your origin story with us.

Dimple Thomas: I grew up in Dubai and came to Canada for my bachelor’s degree at McMaster University. I did a co-op term at Ericsson and the rest is history. I love the company and I’ve been working there for the last six years.

Naomi: What was it like coming into such a large organization right after school?

Dimple Thomas: I was blessed with the technical expertise, work culture and friendliness of the experts I got to work with. 

I haven’t charted my career in any special way, it has mostly been just me being open to opportunities that come my way. But there was also a conscious effort to stay curious and positive and take risks. 

Naomi: In 2019, a 16 kilometer test track opened in Nepean for autonomous vehicle technologies at Area X.O, operated by Invest Ottawa. According to Invest Ottawa, it’s the only facility of its kind. What was it like being a part of that initiative?

Dimple Thomas: I’m super passionate about autonomous vehicles and the different applications of telecommunications and 5G. I visited the site last week—during the pandemic, a lot of our operations were remote. 

It is a true four season weather track, which means we can test true winter, whiteout conditions. This enables the ecosystem for a lot of new players in the industry, like small and medium enterprises. 

Innovative people across our sector get to come and plug and play with this amazing capability that Ericsson’s 5G network offers them. A lot of these amazing use cases are geared to towards innovation for good. 

Naomi: The telecom space has gone through many changes, with customer and communications behaviour evolving from traditional voice to wireless, and the use of more data. Companies need to move quickly to keep up. How has being part of innovation hubs, and these initiatives, opened your view on the future?

Dimple Thomas: Invest Ottawa has enabled us to work across boundaries. We have this perfect mix of academia, research, industry partnerships, and government, in an incubation hub, where we may not have had this ability to co-create before. 

This is valuable because it allows us to explore the full possibility of technology. We can see in practice how these products could be used and relate to our customer. 

Naomi: How sensitive is this sector to technological and economic changes, and what’s it like to navigate as a leader in this space?

Dimple Thomas: I gravitate towards risk and the unknown. Uncertainty is appealing to me because it’s where you can explore and innovate the most. It shows us how much room we have to create something new. 

It has this power to bring us together to fix problems. In the technical sector, and especially with an engineering background, fixing problems is what you love. 

Naomi: What opportunities do you see for women in STEM?

Dimple Thomas: In addition to my technical role at Ericsson, I’m also the Theme Driver of Diversity and Inclusion. Demographics are changing. The world has changed. It’s important to have diverse voices and thoughts when it comes to product development and finding solutions to complex problems. 

It is critical for us to nurture and grow diverse talent, whether it be technical or non-technical. Diverse talent pipelines are slowly but surely expanding. 

What I often tell, especially to girls and women, is to not self select out. Apply, take the chance and when you see a job description, you don’t need to fulfill all of it.

As leaders we must create an inclusive environment where that talent has potential to shine. That comes down to retention. The job market is expanding beyond our imagination. 

The only way we can fix and build technology for everyone is if it is created by everyone.

Naomi: As the Theme Driver of D&I initiatives, you facilitate high school and university outreach, as well as working with employee resource groups. What does this work look like? 

Dimple Thomas: Ericsson’s employee resource groups center around a group of employees that share similar experiences or challenges, mobilizing them as one voice. These exist at all intersections of diversity. 

These groups can work with external partners. In Ottawa, we have a very strong partnership with Carleton University with their women in engineering program. Those of us that are passionate and involved in the diversity and inclusion space tend to know each other. We are trying to make tech more inclusive. Part of that work is with high school groups, other diverse research areas, etc.

Naomi: In 2019, women made up 48% of the workforce, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But they made up only 27% of STEM workers. Does that resonate with you or does it seem off? 

Dimple Thomas: We’ve moved the needle quite a bit but we’re not there yet. It comes down to some of the previous things I was talking about with there not being enough people applying to job postings, etc. 

We are working a lot with our diversity champions and partners to tailor our job descriptions to address the needs of more diverse talent. 

Naomi: Can you talk a bit about some of the investments that you’ve made in yourself? What would be helpful for somebody who’s early in their career? 

Dimple Thomas: We talk a lot about situational leadership. When you’re at any point of your career, one needs to know themselves. What are your strengths, your areas of development? 

Create ecosystems and teams around you to get the best out of them. I’ve always looked at creating very diverse teams so the group succeeds. 

What has worked for me is being really open to opportunities. When you get something, put your best foot forward, because that opens up even more opportunities. Taking risks in your career is extremely important, because it helps you grow. 

Find what motivates you and gravitate towards it. There is a place for everyone. Take a seat at the table.

Naomi: What do you mean when you talk about taking risks in your career?

Dimple Thomas: I can only talk about my career, but it is about taking on roles and positions that I did not feel I was ready for. I have been blessed to have mentors that helped me understand that it’s about how you grow into a role, not about knowing everything when you take it. 

This also applies to taking on projects where the technology is cutting edge and new. You may not have the answers, but that’s what makes it fun as you co-create with your peers and experiment. 

You need to fail fast. Failure is okay as long as you learn from it and grow.

Naomi: What developments in the telecommunications industry are you keeping your eye on?

Dimple Thomas: There’s a lot that’s happening in the industry. The area I’m working in has to do with Cloud RAN, which offers cellular telecommunication networks on cloud native architecture and software. This enables us to do incredible things and use the full compute power of cloud based technology. 

I’m also looking at Invest Ottawa and Area X.O. The pandemic has shown us the power of connectivity: between people, people to things, machines to machines.

Naomi: What does that mean for customers?

Dimple Thomas: As a customer of a cellular network, you get to experience the power of fully enabled 5G+ networks. Very fast speeds, low latency, and higher bandwidth. Zoom calls that don’t have interruptions or YouTube videos that download faster or a Skype session with your loved ones halfway across the world with no interruptions. 

Maybe, into the future, holographic technology where you can actually see your family members right in front of you. There’s also emergency first response, telesurgery. So many use cases that used to sound like science fiction are not that far away. 

Connect with Dimple

LinkedIn: Dimple Thomas

About the Power of Why Host, Naomi Haile

headshot of Naomi Haile, wearing a white sweater

An intrapreneur, consultant, and interviewer.

Naomi Haile is curious about people, their paths and what drives them. In 2017, she launched the Power of Why Podcast. Her guests have taken the non-linear path in business, venture capital and other creative professions to share their story. Each episode explores people’s philosophy on life and work.

As we all navigate our lives and careers, Naomi hopes that everyone she connects with – guests and listeners – can shape products, companies, and communities of impact.

Naomi is a consultant at QuakeLab. She is starting graduate school at Columbia University.


In support of its Women Founders and Owners strategy, Invest Ottawa offers programs and services that enable and accelerate the growth and success of women entrepreneurs from every walk of life. Visit www.investottawa.ca/women to learn more!

Mar 22, 2022

A company could have all the policies to create an inclusive workplace to shift the culture, but that alone is often not enough. Moving the dial on women’s inclusion in the workplace means actively having your team play a critical role in this shift.

This is where allyship comes into play, where both men and women can engage in meaningful actions to make a positive and inclusive impact. For example, evidence from Harvard Business Review shows that when allies – especially men – are deliberately engaged in gender inclusion programs, 96% of organizations see progress, compared to only 30% of organizations where allies are not involved.

At our 2022 International Women’s Week event, Better Together, we had the privilege to virtually sit down with a diverse panel of leaders and allies committed to advancing inclusion in the workplace. Actionable insights for allyship and incorporating it into the workplace to create a diverse and equitable business were emphasized during the panel session. Here, we look at five ways allyship at your organization can help achieve gender equity.

But first, what is allyship?

Allyship is an active and consistent effort to use your privilege and power to support and advocate for people with less privilege. It involves understanding the inequities and taking concrete steps to help level the playing field. And sometimes it means that such actions or steps can feel tricky or uncomfortable, but taking action anyways that is responsible even if it’s not perfect the first time is the path forward. Allyship is about acting consistently in compounded efforts that add up over time.

By now, you may be wondering, where do I begin to advance women’s inclusion in the workplace? Or you might wonder, “What is the best role I can play? Should I attend the gender inclusion event at my workplace or step back and leave space for the women in my organization to gather?” The answers require thoughtfulness, tact, and deeper understanding; these questions alone can spark a flurry of considerations, thoughts, and ideas on where to begin.

Here are five ways you can help to build allyship in your workplace:

1. Help to level the playing field.

Intersectionality means that your team members have different experiences throughout their lives and careers. With diverse backgrounds, experiences and paths towards a career, it’s up to us to ask and listen to each other’s journeys to be more in tune and build diverse points of view on a team to make it stronger. Diverse perspectives bring forward different ideas around innovation, processes, and productivity that can improve your place of business.

2. Create a safe space for all voices to be heard.

Whether it’s through providing accommodations so that every member on your team has the opportunity to share their input or setting an environment that feels safe for all to be seen and heard is key to building allyship and a productive workplace. As an ally, getting comfortable and vulnerable with openly talking about inequities can create a trusting environment to share experiences.

3. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Being an ally is not easy work, and it often involves practicing having conversations you’re not used to having. But taking small steps to speak about it regardless of feeling hesitant and uncomfortable creates a compounded effort towards positive change. It’s okay to make mistakes as you learn and grow together to impact your organization. If you make a mistake when practising allyship, it is important to acknowledge the mistakes and learn from them.

4. Learn the needs of others.

Allyship needs are different for everyone based on the individual you’re an ally to. It’s important to recognize that there is no blanket solution for being an ally, and each individual may have different needs and ways to feel supported. Therefore, it’s important to create an open dialogue and listen to the specific needs of the individual you are advocating for.

5. Build an action-oriented culture.

Culture is made up of all individuals within an organization that’s building it. It is critical to look at how an organization operates daily towards building an inclusive culture, such as deliberate gender and race representation in hiring teams. Actions towards allyship in your organization could also mean creating a safe space for vulnerability where views and experiences can be expressed or even using your privilege to provide mentorship opportunities. It could also mean allowing room for an individual to arrange to have an ally in a meeting they’re heading into for support.

These are just some of the many steps and actions an organization can take towards a diverse and inclusive workplace. One act at a time and small steps are crucial for achieving an environment where everyone can present the best version of themselves at work. A more diverse and inclusive team equates to an innovative, profitable, and productive organization.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to guide allyship conversations at your workplace and with your network, there are a multitude of resources available, including:

Allyship at Work Training Program
Allyship Control Workbook
Melinda Briana Epler—3 ways to be a better ally in the workplace
Willie Jackson—The 2020 MAKERS Conference


Listen to the recorded session of the IWW 2022: Better Together on our YouTube Channel, along with other inspirational IWW 2022 events.

Mar 18, 2022

653 words | 2.5 minutes

A problem begets a solution; a solution, an idea; and ta-da, a company is born.  

Introducing Tadaweb, a Luxembourg-based technology company busy creating an intelligent system that can understand and use the internet like a human, ultimately making it easier for actual humans to access information. 

On the latest episode of Invested in Our New Reality, host Shavonne Hasfal-McIntosh sat down with Genna Elvin, Co-founder and Chief Tada Officer of Tadaweb, to discuss the company’s journey from student start-up to a global business with four offices in major cities around the world, including Ottawa.  

“What we really try and do at Tada is build technology that can use and understand the internet just like a human would,” explains Elvin. “In a world of big data, what we focus on is the smaller data, the more human data-driven side of things.”

The original technology was created nearly 20 years ago by co-founder Francois Gaspard when he was a graduate student and found himself increasingly frustrated trying to find the information he needed. 

“He was conducting the same human process over and over and over again,” Elvin explained. “He spent a long time researching and developing a technology that could replicate that human process of gaining information, and that’s the inspiration behind Tadaweb.” 

Nearly two decades later, the company has long-since moved past that initial frustration and has developed increasingly sophisticated solutions. It is, Elvin said, leaving the start-up moniker behind and entering a phase of strong growth.   

And growing it is – from one office to four: all in different countries, including Canada.   

Tadaweb was named a “company of influence” on the 2016 Disrupt 100 List, which cited its potential to change or create new global markets. It has strong partnerships with giant companies such as Microsoft and is busy scaling its development and operations. Opening new offices in key markets throughout the world is a crucial step.  

But no matter where they go, the Tadaweb team brings their whimsical and friendly office culture with them – along with the core values that have made them such a success. Elvin recognized the importance of work/life balance early on and committed to building a company that saw its team members as assets and not employees, and work as a place of creativity and inspiration.  

“[We decided] …let’s create this culture of work hard, play harder. Let’s sort of create these core values and let’s just prove everyone wrong,” she said. “We’ve got a slide, we put a giant inflatable gorilla with everything you can imagine, just to make people feel proud of the environment that they’re working in.” 

And oh boy, did it ever work. 

 The COVID-19 pandemic brought an abrupt change to the Tadaweb work culture, but, like any true innovator, the company pivoted and managed to retain its core values during a time when they were the most needed. Prior to the lockdowns, the company ecosystem was about being together and collaborating side-by-side, face-to face. Switching to remote work was a challenge.  

“I think the biggest lesson and the biggest accomplishment for us at Tadaweb was that we still maintained our culture,” she explained. “It actually taught us that we could do a whole lot more things remotely. And I’ve seen that even with our interactions in Canada, you know, we can achieve a lot remotely.” 

In fact, the team is thrilled with their progress in Canada and are preparing to open their office shortly.  

Ottawa, says, Elvin, was a natural choice for expansion.  

“We see it as a really strategic stepping stone to North America and the North American market,” she explains. “We share a lot of similar values and it’s quite accessible from where we are in Europe. It seemed like a logical place for us.”  


To learn more, visit WhyOttawa.ca. Be sure to tune in to the rest of Season 7 of Invested in Our New Reality, a podcast hosted by Shavonne Hasfal-McIntosh and produced by Invest Ottawa.