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. Every Friday, we'll be publishing our full Q&As with each of these women, as well as additional women in Canadian tech. Here, we chat with Cecilia Choy, Director of Marketing, North America, at Asus
Name: Cecilia Choy
Job Title: Director of Marketing, North America, Asus
Years in the Industry: 12
The Quote That Most Inspires You: "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose." (Geisel, 1990)
What drew you to a career in consumer electronics?
Funny enough, I didn't seek out a career in consumer electronics. I was more interested in working for a great organization where I would be supported in learning as much as possible. When I graduated from Ivey, I took a role at Telus as part of their management rotational program where I spent time on the Marketing, Product, and Operations teams.
Have you encountered any roadblocks along the way that were related to your gender?
Fortunately, I haven't encountered these types of roadblocks in my career. I think this goes back to working for companies that prioritize both talent and diversity, and that understand the need to balance both.
What unique characteristics or perspective do you feel you bring to your organization as a woman?
Quite frankly, I don't subscribe to the idea that talent and skill set are linked to gender. Marketing is a strategic function in our organization, and to be able to effectively employ a good strategy, you need a broad view. Every individual, given where they come from and their life experiences, brings a subset of that broad view. That said, I tend to gravitate towards building talented teams that reflect this type of diversity.
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?
If you look at the foundation of the tech industry, it's engineers that drive product development and innovation. Engineering as a field of study has historically been male-dominated. There are two sides to this, but one of the reasons why we don't see as many women in tech is because for generations, girls didn't feel supported to go into STEM fields. It's systemic and starts at a very early age. Are parents encouraging their daughters to play with LEGO, or are they encouraging them to make a doll pretty? It starts at that level.
We're definitely seeing huge strides with organizations like Girls Who Code. It's also about showing girls that tech can provide a very rewarding career path, one that's full of support where you can find meaningful ways to contribute.
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?
Tech is an industry that rewards the best and the brightest.
What are some of the misconceptions/myths about women working in the technology space that you'd like to dispel?
The biggest misconception is that tech is an industry that is unwelcoming to women. In my experience, tech is a field that cares about your contribution - that's what matters. When you get onto a sales or an R&D call and people are looking for ideas, it's the best ideas that go to the top, it doesn't matter who it came from. Tech has great opportunities for women. If you want to get away from stigma, if you want to get away from myths, tech is the field to go into.
What's one thing you wish was done differently in the industry, and why?
We need to make a better effort to bridge the gap between industry and education, and we need to start this at an earlier age. Tech companies should invest in awareness programs at a high school level. We should be going into high schools to tell kids more about what we are doing, and to show students where the potential is before they've chosen a career path. If we do more of this, kids would make better decisions, and they wouldn't waste their university years because they would understand what technology-based career paths are available to them and what skill sets are needed.
Are you optimistic for the future in general and for the industry?
Absolutely! It would be impossible not to be inspired by the constant innovation that goes into making lives better.
It used to be when a disaster took place, it would take weeks before anyone was aware of it, and even longer before help was sent. Now, we know in an instant and we can react in an instant. We can feed people, we can provide clean water, we can provide emotional and financial support, all in an instant, and all enabled by technology.
That being said, of course there are inherent dangers. You have people like Bill Gates talking about the potential harms of artificial intelligence, for instance. So built within humanity is the responsibility to ensure technology is being used for good.