I saw the #Thank10women tag trending on Twitter and I thought that it was a nice gesture, but that simply Tweeting a list was insufficient to really show my proper thanks and appreciation.
I’m limiting this to my career to try to keep it under 10 people and focus on highlighting women who deserve professional recognition, so my lovely wife Sydney, and godmother Liz who have been so important to my life will have to make make do with this note.
My mother, Helen
Yes, I know I just said career only. And it’s a cliché to thank ones own mother – and certainly there are all the usual parental reasons (the childbirth, feeding, keeping me alive until adulthood and whatnot), but even if I limit this to just career-focused endeavours, she still tops the list.
My mother regularly cultivated a sense of curiousity and reading, along with independence and resilience. She bought me an encyclopedia set at age 3, which I literally read cover-to-cover (and still have in my office to this day). Years before I moved from a technical field, did my MBA, or got into product strategy, she gave me her old copy of Michael Porter’s Competitive Strategy which remains one of my go-to recommendations.
Through no particular planning, we ended up in very similar fields – working closely with product and marketing teams at international companies. Sadly, I inherited none of her talent or patience for languages; she speaks English, Hungarian and Dutch fluently, with a smattering of German and Japanese.
I speak one (with a smattering of French). Such an embarrassment.
When I finished high school, there was a Federal government program in Canada that would match owners of cultural content (museums, agencies, etc.) with students and recent graduates to learn HTML and build sites from that content, and I participated as a summer student building a site digitizing environmental sensitivity data from the Canadian Coast Guard.
After the program was over, I ended up working directly for the SchoolNet Digital Collections group, helping to manage submissions and provide technical guidance to some teams, before expanding to help the rest of the branch with other design and coding needs. I honed my skills in print design, HTML, database-driven design, and it was a great way to start my career doing a bit of everything (which I still love to do). Nora was my Director and a mentor throughout much my time there. She was a worldly person with an extensive education in German, Languages and Literature and an M.A. in Public Administration – so the ideal person to broker those cultural and administrative ties.
Sadly, Nora passed away from cancer at an unfairly young age, but I owe her so much for her support during such a formative time in my career.
When I moved to London, England to be the first technical resource on the ground for Watchfire, Tracey was my regular communication lifeline back to the main office in Ottawa. When I returned to North America, she was my project manager for most of my clients and taught me a lot about communicating regularly and managing my time and expectations. She remains a good friend (who I don’t see as often as I should).
Allison Simpkins and Amanda Shiga
I have been friends and technical partners with Allison and Amanda for many years – as Sitecore grew in North America, Non-Linear Creations in Ottawa and Toronto was a hub of Sitecore community and sales activity. I went on sales visits with Amanda when I was a Sales Engineer and was fortunate enough to have her join me on the Product Strategy team at Sitecore. Similarly, I spent lots of time with Allison on the business side for various partner functions. They are both well-connected to the Sitecore client community and amazingly talented, knowledgeable, professional women who regularly helped drive the product forward with feedback and product suggestions.
Martina Welander and Kate Butenko
I worked with Martina and Kate while on the services team in Sitecore. They were both such professionals with well-honed skillsets. Martina has an amazing capacity for learning new and complex things (GDPR! xDB!) and then producing amazing and well-understood enablement material which is both informative and often hilarious. Kate was a performance troubleshooting genius and continues to do that work for Altola. I was fortunate enough to learn a bit about both of their worlds from working alongside.
I worked with Beth while contributing to her Analyst Relations work at Sitecore. Like me, she has worked across many vendors in the space and continues to be a great industry resource and sounding board to me long after she left Sitecore, which has led to good relationships with many other talented people in the industry.
Julia is a Sitecore MVP who I worked very closely with a number of projects – assisting with her work on PXM, feeding back to product releases, with code and Symposium presentations. I was always so happy to work alongside her producing amazing work for the community, as my efforts were rewarded tenfold by her community contributions, and enthusiasm.
The women of my Queen’s MBA class
(Last on the list only because I am cheating a bit to give many amazing women credit under a single entry).
In my program, at least half of your grades are group assignments with your team, so you really had to work to gel as a team and rely on others. I was so fortunate to have an amazingly talented group. Erin Stitt-Cavanaugh is a literal genius, with a PhD in cellular and molecular medicine. Valerie Bellemare has such a keen eye for retail and customer experience. Deborah Krause was amazing with details and the important role of keeping us focused and on-task.
I’ll also thank the rest of my female classmates, program and faculty but particularly Gloria Saccon, Jackie Schouten, Terry St. Pierre and Shawna O’Grady, Ph.D. for being such amazingly supportive and transformative people in making our team and MBA experience as positive as it was.