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Celebrating International Women's Day at VEERUM: Breaking barriers

Updated: Mar 25, 2022

At VEERUM, we believe the first step in fostering a culture that recognizes and celebrates diversity is to listen and amplify as many unique perspectives as possible. For International Women’s Day this year, we asked some of the people of VEERUM to reflect on how we can strive towards equality and diversity in the technology industry.

For the first article of this 3 part series, we spoke to 5 women who have played a fundamental role at VEERUM—from building our technology, to supporting our clients, to promoting our mission to the world. We are thrilled to celebrate their accomplishments, hear their stories, and reflect on what we can do better to recognize and promote diversity.

Anjum Pathan, QA/ QC Specialist

Anjum is a driven, passionate, and focused QA/QC Specialist on our development team at VEERUM. With over 5 years of experience in software development, she excels in enhancing and ensuring the quality of our product.

The theme of IWD 2021 is #choosetochallenge. What are some of the challenges that women in the workplace experience?

One of the challenges I experienced is when I moved here from India 6 years ago. I found it difficult to get my career going again. When I couldn’t find a job, I began questioning my value and wondering if having a meaningful career was even a possibility for me. I had to come out of my comfort zone, and rely on the support of my family and community to help me through. I think the first step that helped me was challenging myself and building my confidence. If you can find that within yourself, no one can stop you from achieving your goals. Don’t lose your confidence and hope.

What are you passionate about?

My passion to help women like me. After what I have gone through, I know what it takes to achieve your goals. Many of my friends are currently experiencing this same struggle of navigating your career, and even though I’m still trying to prove myself right now, I want to show them that this is possible for you. I’m really passionate about mentoring women and helping them achieve their potential.

What was your career path?

I studied engineering and computer science in school. I got a job in my third year as a software engineer in India, and I worked for that same company over the next four years. In 2014, we moved to Canada and I began my career in software development in Canada. Right now, women have many opportunities to grow in the tech industry. I’m excited to see so many women excelling in the tech field right now and it makes me hopeful for the future.

How can we continue to improve and push for equality in the workforce?

We need to recognize and limit our unconscious bias. Recognition and promotion must be based solely on performance rather than gender. There also needs to be a mindset shift in how we view women who take time away from their careers to raise a family. Instead of viewing it as a gap in their resume, we need to see the unique talents that mothers bring to the table.

What would be your message to young women and girls interested in STEM?

Don’t lose confidence in yourself. Don’t doubt yourself. You have the ability to learn and grow with technology, the first step is just believing in yourself.

Amanda Nunn, Senior Geospatial Specialist

Amanda has been breaking boundaries throughout her 15 year career in STEM. As a senior geospatial specialist on our services team, she develops and implements innovative solutions to meet the needs of our clients.

The theme of IWD 2021 is #choosetochallenge. What are some of the challenges that women in the workplace experience?

Early on in my career, I was often the only woman on the team. After completing my undergraduate degree in cellular biology, I worked up in northern Alberta as a junior biologist. Because I was a woman, I was treated differently until I had proven myself. I had to learn to tailor my personality, and challenge myself to “be one of the guys”. I had to work harder to prove myself. I worked for everything I got, but I also had people who recognized my hard work and mentored me. Although challenging, this was a valuable experience for me to learn to use my voice, get outside of my comfort zone, and push myself.

What do you like about working in tech?

I’m drawn to the creativity and the problem solving aspect of working in tech. Often, you don't know how you’re going to solve a problem right away, but once you accomplish the task as a team and recognize your role in solving that problem, it's an amazing feeling. I love that collaborative aspect.

What do you think business leaders need to focus on over the next five years to keep improving and pushing for equality?

Leaders need to make space for women. There’s a quote that resonates with me from Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg. She says, “We’ve got to get women to sit at the table”. Meaning that it's on women to use our voices and speak up, but in order for us to use our voice, leadership needs to make space at the table for women to do so.

What would be your message to young women and girls who are interested in STEM?

I would say to have a willingness to learn, and be agile in the environment you are working in. Technology is extremely agile and constantly changing, and you have to be able to adapt to innovation. I would advise anyone to be not rigid in their thought processes and learn to adapt to the changing world of technology.

Sydni Bennie, Senior Technical Writer

Sydni is always developing new and unique ways to improve the operations of VEERUM. As our senior technical writer, she produces high-quality documentation that improves the success of our end-users and internal team members. With multi-faceted experience in energy technology and linguistics, Sydni is an integral part of the successful deployment of VEERUM’s application.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about language and communication. Communication connects us as humans. It’s how we interact, build relationships, share ideas and learn from each other. Language opens doors to new experiences and cultures, and brings more awareness of the world. Working at VEERUM is incredible in this way - with less than 30 employees, we represent 15 languages. I find our linguistic diversity to be inspiring.

What was your career path?

My son was born with a hearing impairment and used sign language to communicate until he was four years old. After having surgery, his hearing immediately improved, and he began learning to speak. Watching him learn sign language, and then spoken language, to communicate inspired me to study linguistics. As a linguist, I began to understand the nuances of language and the importance of communicating clearly to your audience. This is even more important, and challenging, in the technology and engineering sectors. We have highly intelligent, specialized innovators who speak their own language and use technical terminology specific to the industry. As a technical writer, I have the pleasure of working with these brilliant people every day. I learn their “language” and then translate messaging into content that is clear and effective for our business, and for our clients. Effective communication is key to the success of any organization and contributing to that success is highly rewarding.

What would be your message to young women and girls who are interested in STEM?

Build relationships with women during your studies and into your career. Seek out role models. When you find a woman you admire, reach out to her and get to know her. Regardless of your career choice, having female mentors helps you succeed. A mentor can help you better understand your own abilities and help direct your professional ambitions. A mentor recognizes your skills and talents, boosts your confidence and keeps you on track with career goals.

Laura Brown, Data Protection Consultant

Laura is a passionate, analytical, results-oriented and dynamic data protection consultant at VEERUM. With 10 years of experience in advising data privacy and security, she manages all aspects of VEERUM’s regulatory compliance, including SOC2 training, data governance, and security workflows.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about education, I believe that all people should have access to an education. They should be given the tools to develop a career, at the right pace, and the right time. Education is absolutely essential for continued growth.

What do you like most about working at VEERUM?

We at VEERUM, have designed and created a real digital tool that provides excellent value to our clients and makes a big difference in their business processes. We are giving life to traditional paper based drawings, designs, specification and turning them into 3D models easy to see, analyze, understand and work with. I love being a part of this process and providing support to the team to constantly improve and reshape this product for our clients.

What do you think business leaders need to focus on over the next five years to keep improving and pushing for equality?

One of the challenges I see for women in today’s day and age is developing their careers while still providing for their families. The balance between work and home life is often difficult for women to maintain, especially taking into account the need to also have time to take care of oneself, exercise, cook healthy food, and take time to relax and disconnect. Business leaders should shift their thinking to also consider the rest of the responsibilities their female staff take on, outside work. Traditionally, the work space was fully separated from the personal space. Today’s business leaders must consider the overall context of their staff and work with them to find business solutions while taking into account their personal needs. This is not easy to do, but the business will see clear benefits in work quality and efficiency improvements with staff showing high levels of commitment, dedication and loyalty to the business.

Emily Wallace, Marketing and Communications Specialist

Emily is passionate about promoting and sharing the mission of VEERUM. As a Marketing and Communications Specialist, she is responsible for designing, creating, and delivering marketing programs across our digital channels.

What do you like about working in tech?

I like the variety, creativity, and optimism that comes with the industry. No day is ever the same for me, and there is never just one way to solve a problem. I find there is an optimistic spirit that comes with people who work in tech. At VEERUM, people are genuinely passionate about making an impact. We have seen the difference our technology can make and are excited about what we can accomplish together. This positive energy radiates to every member of our team and I find it very inspiring.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about supporting inclusion, equality, and contributing to positive change. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work as a disability respite caregiver and mentor young women in sport and these experiences have continued to inspire me to support and uplift others. It’s amazing to see what happens when people align towards positive change. I believe there is no limit to what we can achieve when everyone is supported and given equal opportunity.

How can we continue to improve and push for equality in the workforce?

Inequality in the workplace is an issue that is inherently complex, and there isn’t one solution that will solve the problem overnight. Despite this, I believe there are meaningful things that all people can do to address inequality every single day. It’s important that we push past the hashtag, and encourage continuous efforts for equality in the workplace. Leaders can continue to make a positive impact by setting goals for gender equality in the workplace and implementing regular training to address diversity and inclusion. It’s not a matter of not having enough qualified diverse individuals for a position, it’s more about eliminating the unconscious bias that comes with hiring practices, removing barriers that may discourage people from applying, and taking every step possible to makes sure all people feel welcome in the workplace. Diversity is still a big issue in the technology industry and will not disappear unless we all self-reflect and take action. I think when it comes to the potential of women and minority groups in tech, we have only just scratched the surface of what we are capable of.

Stay tuned for the next installment of our International Women’s Day series where we will be sharing insights from trailblazer, entrepreneur, and VEERUM board member Judy Fairburn.


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