With Alberta’s technology sector continuing to grow, leaders like Margaret Glover-Campbell are ensuring women are at the forefront of the boom. The Chief Operating Officer of Virtual Gurus, a Talent as a Service solution platform, spoke with Mediaplanet about the past, present, and future of the tech sector and how we can make sure women continue to lead the way.
What’s your favourite part about working in tech startup and scale-up environments?
I love the excitement of starting something new, creating and building products and industries that have the ability to make peoples’ lives easier or better. I love that I can do different things in the company. Over my career I’ve been involved in sales, marketing and public relations, product development, product management, market development, leading and growing teams, developing and implementing processes, financial oversight — literally every part of the organization. Those opportunities don’t exist in larger, corporate environments. I also love being able to see the results my team and I can achieve.
How can an organization empower women in the tech sector?
Taking steps to understand the unconscious bias that still surrounds gender roles is a great first step. There’s a terrific exercise around gender statements that shines a light on how bias is ingrained in our language. Encouraging mentorship within the organization and creating and supporting peer support groups where women can share their personal successes and struggles are a couple of low-cost ideas that are easy to implement. Leadership showing support and empathy for equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) issues is key and being brave enough to take corrective action when seemingly innocuous things happen, such as a female colleague being asked to arrange a courier when it’s not within the purview of her role.
As a veteran in the industry, how have you seen Canada’s tech sector change over the years? What do you hope to see in the future?
We’ve taken huge strides in the visibility of the tech sector in Canada. In Alberta, we’ve historically been in the spectre of the oil and gas industry — from the ability to hire, to pay a competitive wage, and to secure funding. Recently, we’ve seen the emergence of strong ecosystems spurred by organizations like the Rainforest, Platform Calgary, and Startup Canada that are providing support to entrepreneurs, and the growth of funding organizations specifically aimed at tech startups. There’s also been a mindset shift that makes it acceptable to be an entrepreneur, for entrepreneurship to be considered as a career option.
What advice can you share for the next generation of female tech leaders?
Be brave. Believe in yourself. Don’t be afraid to do things differently. Find a mentor early in your career. Find your champions. Choose to champion others. Know your core values and find (or start!) a company whose values match yours. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Know that asking for help makes you a stronger leader. Surround yourself with smart people. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes but make sure you learn and grow from it when you do.