Business Woman of the month – Elyse Regan
Global Project Manager for RAF Enterprises & Nerds on Site, Elyse Regan sat down with us to discuss web-based solutions and its benefits for tech businesses, as well as the challenges women face in IT and her advice to on how to overcome these challenges.
Elyse Regan is a Global Project and Account Manager for Nerds On Site and sister company, RAF Enterprising Inc., specializing in software and web-based business solutions. She received her B.S from The University of Victoria in British Columbia where she also performed research in Educational Gaming through the CREU Program (Collaborative Research Experience for Undergraduates) in Computer Science and Engineering. In 2010-2011, she studied abroad at the University of South Australia, one of her areas of focus being e-Business and Marketing. In conjunction with her formal education, she worked both in the government sector and private sector in web application development before eventually joining the Nerds On Site team.
Elyse is passionate about improving productivity with technology and is committed to supporting the advancement of women in the industry. With Nerds On Site, she’s participated as co-author in an organization-wide initiative to further develop female representation in both management and IT roles within the company. She recently collaborated with fellow Nerdettes to form NERDS WIT (WomenInTech), a support network for women who are part of (and interested in joining) the Nerds On Site team. The group meets bi-monthly to share knowledge, expertise, best practices and to discuss topics that promote a successful and sustainable, happy and healthy work-life balance. She currently resides in Squamish, British Columbia, with her husband and newborn daughter.
What can you tell us about web-based business solutions and what impact it has on the success of a business?
SaaS ( software as a service), PaaS ( platform as a service) and IaaS ( infrastructure as a service) solutions are now fairly common in the SME world. With internet connectivity being what it is now, it’s often more economical for a small enterprise to adopt these types of tools in order to run their business, rather than investing in expensive infrastructure, hardware and software. Specifically, hosted software solutions offer two advantages to the alternative: accessibility and ease of integration with other online tools. The ability to access your data securely from anywhere means informed decisions can more often be made in real-time. For those that use more than one tool to run their operation (CRM, Financial Management, Project Management), application integration can help build out extensive and data-rich client profiles without sacrificing resources. Data security and privacy should always be considered when discussing a cloud solution. They are not appropriate for storing most sensitive data (the terms of service and privacy policies of the third party provider should not be overlooked). As always, we strongly encourage clients to use multi-factor authentication best practices and encryption where possible.
What can you tell us about some of the current trends in the tech sector in Canada?
Today, we interact with AI-based applications on a daily basis, such as navigation services and digital assistants, but the use of augmented intelligence will continue to become more relevant and pervasive in industries of all types (from digital marketing to farming). The rise of augmented intelligence and big data will produce the need for more personal security services and privacy watchdogs as we draw the line between user privacy and consumer personalization, customization and convenience. There is an increased reliance on cloud services (SaaS, PaaS and IaaS), which is forcing those providers to become more innovative in an increasingly competitive marketplace. This means product offerings are becoming more robust and tailorable with an increased focus on quality customer support.
Technology is the way of the future and many companies are utilizing to increase productivity. What do you believe is the number one way tech can benefit a business?
I believe the #1 benefit is overall decision making and productivity in day-to-day operations. This can take different forms depending on the needs of the organization, from task automation to record consolidation and system integration. Reducing or eliminating the need to perform repetitive or unnecessary tasks enables team members to focus their efforts on building and maintaining client relationships. Increasing efficiency and reducing the possibility of human error can lead to higher customer satisfaction and overall business well being.
You’re very passionate about helping women advance in the tech industry. Why is this so important to you and what impact do you believe women can have in this sector?
It’s important to me because I see value in different perspectives. Diversity in tech is critical. With the development of machine learning and automation, technology is increasingly shaping our lives and the way we interact with others and the world around us. Therefore, the designers, developers, innovators and leaders of the industry should accurately represent those they serve, or we risk producing biased technology. Additionally, even though less than 25 per cent of computing jobs are held by women (even less in leadership roles) and the turnover rate is twice as high for women than it is for men. Companies who cultivate diversity have higher levels of team member satisfaction and those led by women are more likely to succeed.
What are some specific challenges women entrepreneurs face today in the tech industry and what measures can be put in place to help support them?
There are several significant challenges faced by women in the tech industry, from bias in hiring practices to the gender wage gap. It’s essential that we continue to push for gender equality in this industry, and others. However, there’s one issue that comes to mind as a new mom–overcoming the stigma of motherhood in a professional role while balancing professional and family priorities. Many women are faced with the challenge of overcoming a stereotype or (subtle or glaring) discrimination due to pregnancy or motherhood. This compels women to actively manage the impressions they make when they become pregnant or a mother, sometimes by concealing the fact. I’m fortunate enough to work in an environment where healthy family life is a pillar of the organization, but I know this is not the case for all women. I’d like to see more industry leaders instituting or supporting initiatives that focus on building out and maintaining a diverse, supportive and conscious work environment.
You recently partnered up with your female colleagues to create NERDS WIT (WomenInTech). What was the inspiration behind that and how do you believe it’s impacted Nerds on Site?
The formation of WomenInTech was primarily inspired by the women within our organization. In conversation, it was evident that we faced similar challenges working in a largely male-dominated industry. There was a growing need for socialization and collaboration, especially when many of us are often working remotely with teams spread across the country. I wanted to establish a platform where colleagues could share their experiences, challenges, successes, and best practices with other women and to help reduce the feeling of isolation that can occur in this industry. I believe it’s helped to foster communication and collaboration between women within the organization to promote and encourage Nerds On Site’s initiative to develop female representation at the leadership level.
As a female in the IT world, you’ve faced several challenges yourself. What advice can you give to women who are looking to enter the IT workforce that you wish someone would have given you before you started?
Reach out to the networks and resources available to you. There are more available today than when I started out, specifically geared towards women in the tech industry. There are a number of different fields of study, from graphic design to system architecture or programming – explore different areas and find what you’re most passionate about. Join local or virtual support groups for women in technology. Get involved!
On a final note, what does the future of Nerds on Site look like? Are there any future projects that you’re hoping to implement within the company that can benefit Canadian SME owners?
The future of NOS is exciting! The company’s growth and new partnerships mean an ever-expanding knowledge base and product offering. Our mission’s focus today is providing SME-specific talent and tools to allow our clients to champion in this cyber warfare state today. Our Managed Security Services Protocol (MSSP) offerings bring a new and proprietary security tool to the people and organizations who provide more than 80 per cent of the new jobs in our country – the great CanadianSMEs.