What moves us, empowers us and engages us helps us develop our personal brand, but also weaves its way through the lives of those around us, motivating others and inspiring them to grow. That was resounding message at The Power of Your Story, an event featuring Millennial women who are changing the world by sharing their stories and building tech businesses and brands.
Held on July 24, CompTIA’s Canadian Business Technology Community hosted the event with partner Benchmark at Toronto’s Verity Club, a women’s club in downtown Toronto. While listening to the panelists, you could hear murmurs of amazement, words of encouragement and see nods of agreement from the more than 100 women in attendance who are all looking to help shape the future of the tech industry to ensure women are heard and represented. In addition to sharing their stories, the panelists also shared important advice for anyone building a personal brand or a business. Here’s what they had to say.
Clear the Noise
Riya Karumanchi is the 15-year-old founder and CEO of SmartCane, a company focused on revolutionizing mobility for the visually impaired using a proprietary computer vision technology that enables real-time object detection functionalities to describe a user’s surrounding environment. Being passionate about coding led her to realize that, while change is happening all over the world, it is leaving behind many communities.
When asked how she manages to balance attending high school and running a business, she shared the advice she received from her mentor: Make a table. On the left side, make a list of everything that’s taking up your time; on the other side, write down where do you want to go in life. Cross out everything on the left that isn’t getting you to where you are going.
“Keep your top three priorities on the forefront of the list and never be afraid to ask for help,” said Karumanchi.
Own Your Narrative
Chioma Ifeanyi-Okoro, a CPA and growth consultant, says her story began on the playground as a child, building relationships by connecting friends with other friends, and that the theme of her story is the power of connection. From Nigeria, her journey brought her to Canada where she continued building relationships by founding My African Corner, a movement that connects businesses, events, arts and culture owned by the African Diaspora in cities around the world.
As a growth consultant, Ifeanyi-Okoro helps women position themselves. When summarizing the way to harness the power of your own story, Ifeanyi-Okoro said, “Think of the little girl who is out in the world and doesn’t know she’s as boss as you are.” Own your narrative and don’t let anyone tell you who you are. Then, build your legacy by bringing people along on that journey with you. When asked how she had the courage to change her path, she reminded us to step into our purpose. Or as Ifeanyi-Okoro put it, “Tell the committee that meets in your head to shhhhhhh when it tells you no.”
Turn Failures into Opportunities
Vanessa Vakharia, founder and CEO of The Math Guru, believes that everyone is innately capable of doing anything they want. Failing had always been an experience that has motivated and challenged her. Failing grade 11 math—twice—however, gave her the feeling, for the first time, that she couldn’t do something, and the external world validated those feelings.
A choice to change to a school that refused to accept that she just wasn’t a “math person” led her understand that she could succeed. Changing your perception has the power to change your beliefs. The day you believe you are capable is the day you become awesome. That was the start of a series of spectacular failures that have led to her successful business—and to her band opening for Bon Jovi at the Air Canada Centre!
Share Your Story
Women already have the power to change the narrative around women in technology, and the power of your story will help move the needle. Be proud of your story—share it often and share it loudly. Search for opportunities to further not just yourself in your career, but the women alongside you and the women that will come after you.
Start connecting with industry peers and women in tech today with CompTIA. Learn more about the Canadian Business Technology Community.
About Tracie Orisko
Tracie Orisko is the president of Managed Sales Pros, the only company in North America that focuses exclusively on outbound sales prospecting for managed services providers and channel-only vendor partners. As a lead generation rock star who rose through the ranks from caller to team lead to project manager to president, Tracie understands all aspects of sales development, from picking up the phone to managing a 50-agent call team. You can find Tracie leading her team from the front, demonstrating that even in 2019, cold calling works.
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