On Jun. 7, Red Hat hosted its annual Women in Technology event, which celebrates the importance of women’s involvement in the technology industry, and gives women in the industry a space to talk about the barriers that still exist in tech today.
From the venue in the Microsoft Canada head office on the 43rd floor of 81 Bay Street, guests had the opportunity to nosh, network and comment on the smokey haze that had settled over Toronto before the event kicked off.
Opening remarks came from Red Hat account executives Kim-Chi Tran and Alessia Grano. After words from Paul Pinkney, general manager of Red Hat Canada, and Rekha Narang, director of partner technology at Microsoft Canada, four panels focusing on role models and personal success stories filled the evening.
The final speaker of the evening, Lia Grimanis, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Up With Women, spoke about rising above adversity in a fireside chat with Angie Mohr, Red Hat Canada account executive.
With her own experience of struggling with homelessness in her teen years, and an autism diagnosis later in life, Grimanis has seen and faced adversity. That is why her organization, Up With Women, is a charity that provides education, community outreach and mentorship programs for homeless or recently homeless women and gender diverse individuals.
Prior to her career as an entrepreneur, Grimanis worked as head of American financial services for a division of Tibco. “And it was only at that point that they decided to pay for a coach for me,” she said. “Here I was, at the top of my field, I had already gotten to the top of the mountain, and they’re like ‘let me give you this Sherpa.’”
This backwards method of career mentoring was not only how Grimanis found out about coaches, but also led to her realization that coaching needed to be more accessible to those who need it— ergo, Up with Women was born.
Grimanis’s has received many accolades for her entrepreneurial spirit, including being named Chatelaine’s Woman of the Year, and being included in Financial Post Magazine‘s Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women.
Up With Woman has a great success rate when it comes to helping women and gender diverse people experiencing poverty and homelessness. “We’re helping people exit poverty in a year,” Grimanis said. “One in five of the women finishes the program earning over C$50,000 a year.”
When asked for mentorship advice, she said she believes the more mentors the merrier.
“The only thing that a single mentor can do is teach you how to be them,” she noted. “Get as many mentors as you can. Every single person has the capacity to lead you in some way in the direction you want to go.”
You can read about Lia and her success story via her LinkedIn profile.