Joanne’s journey into the tech industry, more than 30 years ago, was anything but conventional. After graduating with a Business Degree, she embarked on a soul-searching adventure through Southeast Asia. Returning home, she found herself at a crossroads, unsure of her career path. A chance recommendation from a friend led her to a technical data center position at Transport Canada, despite her limited computer experience.

Taking a chance on tech

“When I joined Transport Canada, the only computer experience I had was with a DOS-based computer and WordPerfect,” Joanne recalls. “I didn’t know anything about Windows, UNIX, CAD, or GIS systems, which is what the job entailed.”

But Joanne’s friend saw potential in her, citing her management science degree as a solid foundation for learning the ropes. It was a sink-or-swim situation. No one was available to train Joanne for the highly technical role, which tasked Joanne with troubleshooting complex workspaces and working with cutting-edge technology featuring unfamiliar software and hardware tools. “I had to rely on myself to figure out and overcome each problem I encountered,” she reflects.

Joanne sought out available resources and not only survived in the role but thrived in it. She mastered the tech surrounding her—and got her first taste of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, which was a fortuitous introduction. She and her team had a high-profile project that involved taking maps from Transport Canada’s CAD/GIS systems and importing them into CorelDRAW, where a large format poster would be printed to represent the size and scale of every airport in Canada.

Leading and inspiring others

Her time at Transport Canada laid the groundwork for the rest of her career as a woman in tech. She joined Alludo when it was still known as Corel and flourished in various roles, ultimately landing as Lead Program Manager.

“In my current position, I wear many hats,” Joanne explains. “I work closely with cross-functional teams, from project management to product development, ensuring we’re all aligned towards our goals.” Joanne is a Scrum Master and versed in Agile and iterative development, and is a long way from her earliest days of being thrown into the deep end of the tech pool. She’s sailing through it now as a woman in tech, leading and inspiring others along the way.

An advocate for women in tech

It’s not lost on Joanne that she has achieved success in a traditionally male-dominated field. Being a woman in tech has posed a number of challenges, particularly during pivotal life moments such as starting a family. “There weren’t a lot of my peers or team members who were starting a family,” she shares. “I became very efficient with how I spent my time.”

Joanne’s journey has inspired her to advocate for other women in the tech industry. “When I encounter someone who is considering a job in this field, I tell them to jump in and to not be afraid to take a chance,” she says. “I have helped many newcomers to high tech make introductions with hiring managers.” And if anyone feels intimidated by a steep learning curve, Joanne can relate firsthand and encourage others with her history of resourcefulness and tenacity.

Finding work-life balance

Despite her demanding role, Joanne prioritizes work-life balance, carving out time for outdoor activities like walking her dogs and paddleboarding. “Being a Program Manager means that I am acutely aware of time,” she admits. “But getting out into nature every day seems to have a calming effect for me.”

With almost three decades at our company, Joanne’s story is a fantastic reminder of the talent, skill, resilience, and determination of women in the tech industry. As we celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we’re honored to spotlight Joanne as one of the women who makes Alludo shine. We’re proud to have an exceptional ratio of women working at Alludo compared to our peer organizations, particularly in leadership positions*. For us, every day is International Women’s Day—and we have people like Joanne to thank for that.

* We are extremely proud to report that we are above industry standard for the percentage of women in our workforce: Nearly one-third (31%) of our workforce is comprised of women, and we have a particularly strong—and rare—representation at the leadership level. Our Chief Executive Officer, Chief Revenue Officer, and Chief Legal Officer are all women; our operations committee, which consists of our most senior leaders, includes a 32% representation of women; and 33% of our people managers are women, highlighting the efforts we make to ensure equal opportunities and empowerment across all levels of the organization.