In the April 2018 issue of WiFi HiFi Magazine, we highlighted excerpts from our interviews with several influential women in the tech industry in Canada. We've published our full Q&As with each of these women, as well as additional women in Canadian tech. Here, we chat with Carol Leaman, CEO of SaaS business microlearning platform Axonify. Leaman is a serial entrepreneur, with Axonify being her fourth venture. She sold all three of her prior companies, including one to Google.
Name: Carol Leaman
Job Title: CEO, Axonify
Years in the Industry: 20+
The Quote That Most Inspires You: "The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it." (Chinese Proverb)
What drew you to a career in the consumer and/or business technology industry?
It was accidental. I had an opportunity to leap from a finance job in a traditional century-old public company into a virtual reality company that looked like fun. It seemed exciting and a great learning opportunity, so I went for it.
Have you encountered any roadblocks along the way that were related to your gender?
Not one. I think because I don't have any biases towards gender or age or anything else, it doesn't even occur to me that other people would think that way. Maybe they do, but I don't notice and only see the positive.
What unique characteristics or perspective do you feel you bring to your organization as a woman?
Women have a different sensibility in business that just adds another layer to the fabric of a company, which needs both men and women to function well. I'm no different than that. I bring a different perspective, a different lens on questions or problems, and a different type of interaction with people, which often fits in well with the perspectives men bring.
Technology is historically a male-dominated industry, yet the use of tech is fully embraced by women, and many studies even suggest that females are the primary buyers of tech in the home. What do you feel the technology industry needs in order to attract more women, particularly into high-level positions?
It's simple, we just need more time. It's happening, but as with a sea change in any area, it doesn't happen overnight. There are enough conversations taking place now, and enough action happening, that it's just a matter of time.
If you had to sum up what it is like being a woman in this male-dominated technology industry in just a few words, what would you say?
I don't feel any different than if I were in any other industry, male or female dominated. I am who I am, doing the best job I can, and gender isn't a factor for me. I don't think about it, and I don't consciously behave any differently because I'm a woman.
Are there other women in the tech industry who inspire you?
Any woman who has made it to the rank of CEO in a Fortune 500 company is an inspiration! They are few and far between, but it's a great goal to aspire to.
What are some of the misconceptions/myths about women working in the technology space that you'd like to dispel?
That they don't have the same opportunities that men do. There are tons of opportunities. You just need to look for them, and not be afraid to show up.
What's one thing you wish was done differently in the industry, and why?
I can't think of anything off the top of my head. So many things are being done now because of the level of conversation happening around women in tech, women on boards, et cetera that we just need to keep doing them.
Are you optimistic for the future in general and for the industry?
I am an optimist at heart, so yes! Life is what you make it, and when you are focused on all the things holding you back, you don't even see the barriers. Just go for it. The industry will continue to grow and evolve in positive ways, and there's no reason why women can't take the same advantages as anyone else.