June 15, 2017 marked the second annual Canadian Tech at Scale conference, which brought together 120 of Canada’s top engineering leaders to learn from each other’s successes and failures as our companies have scaled. The impressive line-up of (all Canadian, eh) speakers included Tony Savor (Engineering Director, Facebook), Inmar Givoni (Director of AI, kindred), Johnathan Nightingale (Founder, Raw Signal Group) and Jean-Michel Lemieux (SVP of Engineering, Shopify).
I won’t get into details about each of their topics, but we covered common and significant technical and people challenges that tech teams face from how to scale continuous deployment, how to introduce machine learning, how to lead your team using maps, and to how to structure teams. I’d highly suggest you check-out their talks. You can find the videos here.
Canadian Tech at Scale is a joint venture between myself, Jean-Michel Lemieux ( SVP of Engineering, Shopify) and Boris Chan (Managing Director, Pivotal Labs). The idea sparked from a conversation about how many great engineering leaders we had in Canada, yet how difficult it was for tech leaders in Canada to collaborate with one another without having to leave the country. There just wasn’t any medium to connect everyone. Canadian Tech at Scale is working, to it’s small part, in bringing the community together.
However, bringing together the community to us didn’t just mean sending out invitations and accepting RSVPs. We are very aware that women are often under represented at tech events (and in general in tech). To improve upon this, we reached out to our collective networks to proactively invite women and ended up having 20%+ of the attendees being female. We’ll continue to strive for further diversity year after year.
We also recognize that there is a need to encourage more girls and women to pursue careers in engineering. With that in mind, we decided to partner with Girls Learning Code to provide scholarships to underprivileged girls by donating 50% of the tickets sales. The result was $5,200 towards sending 10 girls to coding camp.
Having worked with startups and scale ups for over ten years, I’ve seen the steady growth in engineering capabilities and knew there was a real opportunity to bring these people together. The concept also aligned well with our vision at gdR, which has always been to grow the Canadian tech ecosystem. It supports the further development of leaders and allows us to shed light on all the people and amazing companies that are popping up all across Canada. Because, as our co-creator Jean-Michel said in a recent Globe & Mail article, “If we want to be a competitor in innovation, Canadians need to get serious about developing an infrastructure to support it.” Canadian Tech at Scale is our small contribution to building that infrastructure.