International Women’s Day: A year of WMNinTECH in Montreal

It was almost exactly a year today that the idea for our WMNinTECH series was born. In the past year, we’ve highlighted twelve amazing women from the Montreal tech community. In celebration of International Women’s Day, here’s a recap:

Caterina Rizzi trailblazes a path for women techies in Montreal


Seated in one of the spaces curated, designed, and rented by the company she co-founded, Caterina Rizzi is calm and collected. She exudes the type of confidence you would expect from someone who climbed the corporate ladder in retail before completely rebranding herself as an entrepreneur in the real estate and hospitality sector with Breather.

MTLinTECH got the chance to sit down with Rizzi to discuss her own career, how she views the current landscape for women in tech, and how she hopes to change it for the better.

Read the full story here.


Angelique Mannella on taking chances and being open to unexpected opportunities


Angelique Mannella’s resume reads like a student’s post-graduation dream: time spent in the UK, Singapore, Finland, the Caribbean, and South Africa. Jobs in tech startups, at Nokia, consulting for the World Bank, and heading her own mobile gaming company.

Indeed, she is the first to admit that many of the opportunities she has pursued over the years ended up turning into the sort of dream job her younger self would have jumped at. But she’s also upfront about the fact that the turns her career have taken were never part of some big long-term plan; she’s reached the point she is now, as the first Associate Vice Principle of Innovation at McGill, by being open to unexpected opportunities, by taking chances, and by continuing to pursue the topics that have attracted her interest since her university days: technology and social impact.

Read the full story here.

Magaly Charbonneau proves that with organization and drive you can have it all


Midway through our conversation with Magaly Charbonneau, she describes an exercise she picked up at the Coaches Training Institute in studying to be an executive coach.

Called ‘The Wheel of Life‘, it is used to help coaches assess and define the gap between where the client is and where they want to be. A circular graph is divided into different sections, including Friends & Family, Marriage/Single Life, Career, Money/Finances, and Health. The client is asked to rank their happiness in each category on a scale of 1 to 10. Once a baseline has been established, the coach works with the client to gradually improve the different sections one point at a time, slowly restructuring the focus and layout for improvement.

It is something Magaly has been completing herself ever since she took the course in her early twenties. To this day she re-examines her Wheel of Life each January. The impressive level of self-awareness she demonstrated as a twenty year old, compounded with the discipline and organization of maintaining the habit ever since go a long way in explaining Magaly’s success in the high tech industry since her first venture, Hostopia in 2001.

Read the full story here.

Naomi Goldapple on pursuing passion in business


Naomi Goldapple, a program director at Element AI, has chosen to pursue projects throughout her career that excite her. After all, she is the first to tell you that a business venture is a relationship like any other. There’s the first excitement of introduction, a physical reaction akin to falling in love. But, like romance, once the giddiness of first love passes, continued passion is necessary to sustain a lasting relationship. Naomi has demonstrated a discerning eye in the projects she has chosen to commit to, and how to know when others have run through their course.

After having her first child, she toyed around with the idea of a temperature-controlled water faucet to use for bathing infants, but gave it up when she found her excitement for the project waning after only a few weeks: “A friend of mine I played ultimate frisbee with is an engineer, so we started designing it. But three weeks into it, I realized I was so over this thing. You really have to be passionate about something you’re going to be married to for a few years,” Naomi told MTLinTECH.

It takes courage to strike out on a new venture. It’s this kind of courage that led Naomi, a former e-business strategy consultant at IBM, to start her innovative small business venture Maman Bébé et Café, a space in NDG that combined a fitness center, daycare, coffeeshop, spa, and boutique.

Read the full story here.

Pascale Audette on making a change


Pascale Audette always knew she would be a businesswoman. She comes from a long line of entrepreneurs and business owners, after all.

“I come from a background of self-starters. They all have businesses,” Pascale told MTLinTECH. “On my mom’s side, on my dad’s side, my grandparents had a big contracting and transportation company. I was 13 and was working summers for some of them. My aunt started a restaurant and still has it 30 years after. It’s in our blood.”

But instead of staying with a family business, she headed into the non-profit sector, and has been pursuing projects with a special interest in positive social change ever since.

Read the full story here.

Anna Goodson wants young entrepreneurs to know there are options


Anna Goodson has built herself an international reputation with Anna Goodson Illustration Agency and the launch of MeatMarket Photography, and in recent years has gotten involved in the Montreal startup scene. This July will be her fifth year as a Startupfest judge and she was also the first female investor to come onboard for Startupfest.

But there’s a prevalent attitude in the startup scene that you should go big or go home. And Goodson wants young entrepreneurs to know that there are options. Specifically, that lifestyle businesses like hers are an option, and can actually allow for more freedom.

Read the full story here.

Chic Marie-Philip Simard on the transition from law to tech


A law school graduate by the age of 21, it was already obvious that Marie-Philip Simard was driven, goal-oriented, and competitive. But after spending a few years as a successful lawyer, she realized she craved the freedom and creativity of entrepreneurship, and left her comfortable job to strike out on her own.

Read the fully story here.

Afsoon Soudi on the transition from academia to tech


Both the science and tech sectors tend to be male-dominated. But in switching from academia to launching a business, Afsoon Soudi discovered a whole host of new challenges and responsibilities. There’s so many different aspects of a product that a co-founder is responsible for, from finding the perfect team to pleasing investors to developing a product that actually resonates with consumers.

Read the full story here.

Kate Arthur is working to improve digital literacy for the next generation


After studying literature at Concordia, and a successful communications career in theatre and radio, Kate Arthur moved into the tech sector before founding a not-for-profit that teaches kids across Canada to code.

“It’s really neat when you build your first computer from scratch and it works. And when you get onto servers and how they work and how much data they manage and how the software works with the hardware, it’s really interesting. Even learning to code, I look at code like English literature. I read it and I try to understand it and see the patterns and the flows. It is like another language to me.”

Arthur always wanted to be a writer, in fiction and in non-fiction. And through an internship at Concordia, she found a passion for putting those writing skills to business use.

Read the full story here.

NACO Investor of the Year Sophie Forest on how Brightspark is revolutionizing Canadian angel investment


At the 2017 National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) World Angel Investment Summit in Montreal, Sophie Forest received the Canadian Angel of the Year award. A partner at Brightspark Ventures for the past fifteen years, Sophie’s investment experience, especially in VC investment in tech, goes back even further than that.

We got a chance to catch up with Sophie about what she considers good indicators of a company’s success, why she wound up investing in tech, and how Brightspark is changing the Canadian angel investment landscape.

Read the full story here.

Askida’s Michèle Quintal on trusting your instincts and taking that first leap

Michèle Quintal, Askida’s Director of Quality Assurance, has always been a woman with a passion for all things creative as well as an aptitude for organization, though she had no real concept of where these skills could take her. In spite of her many successes in the field, Michèle admits that she did not intentionally pursue a career in technology.

Read the full story here.

Beth Thouin on being called a bitch in her professional career


Beth Thouin has been called a bitch three times in her professional career.

The first time she was 27, pregnant with her first child, and trying to name a product. A lawyer she was working with, annoyed that she refused to do the trademark research he tried to pass off onto her–which was outside both her expertise and responsibilities–asked her, ‘Are you being a bitch because you’re pregnant, or are you just a bitch?’

“At the time I was still shy and in my shell, and I didn’t say anything. I felt shocked and intimidated. I didn’t even tell anybody. Today, at 37, the gloves are gone. Of course I would confront that. I would try to confront that with compassion, because that’s the only way to get anywhere,” Thouin told MTLinTECH.

The confidence and self-assuredness Beth radiates now, ten years later, was hard won. And that ability to confront with compassion is the result of years of seeing sexual discrimination in the workplace, both in and out of the tech sector.

Read the full story here.


Thank you to all the women doing incredible work in Montreal’s tech ecosystem!


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