Lauren Arnold

WOMEN IN TECH: Q&A With Lauren Arnold, Co-Founder, Category Communications

The latest candidate in our series of Q&As with influential women in the technology business is Lauren Arnold, Co-Founder, Category Communications, a communications agency driving strategic communication solutions for category leaders in technology, real estate, and retail.

Name: Lauren Arnold

Job Title & Company: Co-Founder, Category Communications

Years in the Industry: 9 Years

The Quote That Most Inspires You: “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on Public Relations.” (– Bill Gates)

What drew you to a career in the consumer and/or business technology industry?

I have always followed how new innovations and technologies possess the opportunity to shape our future. That paired with my love of storytelling is what drew me to a career focused on technology PR.

Technology has an undeniable impact on our world today. And it will continue to do so. I have attended global conferences like CES in Vegas multiple times, which has given me the privilege of experiencing global innovations up close, and I’m always amazed and inspired by the breadth of advancements and innovations in the space.

Canadian conferences like SAAS North, Elevate, and CIX do an amazing job at shining a light on the talent and ideas coming out of our country as well. I love being in rooms filled with innovative thinkers, entrepreneurs, and people making a change in our society. It was the reason my co-founder and I wanted to start Category Communications – to work closely with founders who are creating changemaking technology brands that are shaping our tomorrow.

I love being a small part in telling the stories of how these start-ups and scale ups are changing the way we live, work and connect with one another.

Have you encountered any roadblocks along the way that were related to your gender?

Working in tech, specifically within the start-up space, there are many times when I’m the only woman in the room. As many women in the tech industry have likely also experienced, there have been times where I was not taken seriously, or when a man felt the need to unnecessarily explain things to me – not knowing I already have a deep understanding of the industry, making me feel undervalued and overlooked.

Throughout my career, I have been incredibly lucky to have had so many women mentors from which to look up to and seek guidance. I have had the privilege of representing many female founders, sharing the stories of their challenges as women in tech – everything from securing funding in a landscape where female-led start-ups account for only 2% of the billions in VC funding, to challenges of balancing being a founder with motherhood.

Seeing first-hand how these women have overcome these challenges, and having these women to look up to and lean on, has motivated me to continue to develop a career in tech. More importantly it drives me to want to share these stories as proof points that women in tech are incredibly valuable to have on your team or as partners.

Lauren Arnold

What unique characteristics or perspective do you feel you bring to your organization as a woman?

As a woman in tech, I pride myself on being adaptable, persistent, understanding, and resilient. At Category Communications, I hope that these characteristics support mentoring the next generation of PR talent in Canada. Our hope is that our work, which often focuses on women-led companies, inspires them to continue a thriving career in tech PR.

Technology is historically a male-dominated industry, yet the use of tech is fully embraced by women, and many studies even suggest that females are the primary buyers of tech in the home. What do you feel the technology industry needs to attract more women, particularly into high-level positions?

Increasing access to funding for women-led technology companies is essential to increasing representation for founders across the ecosystem, and ultimately creating workplaces that are welcoming and committed to fostering women identifying tech talent. U.S.-based venture capital investment in women-led start-ups has been on the decline over the past few years (Pitchbook) which, despite the overall funding landscape, is extremely discouraging.

In addition to cultivating funds and initiatives that focus on women-led founders, ensuring that the media is continuing to share and shine a light on these founders to show the next generation that it’s possible to overcome these barriers is important. As a media and communications community, I believe we have gotten better at telling stories outside of impressive fundraisers. However, there’s more work to be done to tell stories that empower young women to start businesses and jump into the tech community.

If you had to sum up what it is like being a woman in this male-dominated technology industry in just a few words, what would you say?

Empowering, when you surround yourself with the right people.

Are there women in the tech industry who inspire you?

There are so many incredible women that I feel immensely grateful to call clients, friends, and mentors. At Category Communications, we launched with a powerhouse Board of Advisors that features a mix of women in the tech and communications industry, including: Erin Bury, CEO and Co-Founder at Willful, Fatima Zaidi, CEO and Founder at Quill and CoHost, Lisa Kimmel, Co-Founder at Lantern Media and former Chair & CEO of Edelman Canada and LATAM, and Sarah Berman, Founder and President at The Berman Group. These women have been so supportive to not just the team at Category, but to women across the North American tech and communications ecosystem by creating spaces where women can connect and thrive.

What are some of the misconceptions/myths about women working in the technology space that you’d like to dispel?

I think there is a myth that the tech ecosystem is predominantly dominated by males. But I think, although we have a long way to go, there has been positive change in representation over the past few years. There are so many incredible women-led technology companies that are encouraging more new women graduates to make moves and enter the tech community.

There are also new resources, like What in the Tech, founded by Laura Gabor, that are making big moves to ensure the tech community is more inclusive for underrepresented folks.

What’s one thing you wish was done differently in the industry, and why?

Attracting and recruiting the next generation of talent, specifically within the communications space, while so many new graduates are seeking roles within lifestyle and consumer goods. These sectors are incredible and hold so much opportunity, but I often feel that the tech sector gets overlooked by new grads looking to break into the PR and communications space. As an industry, the tech community needs to do a better job of creating spaces and roles for early-stage marketing and communications folks looking to break into the industry.

Are you optimistic for the future in general and for the industry?

100 per cent, yes. We’re seeing more women start businesses than ever before and more initiatives focused on building up women entrepreneurs and leaders in the tech community are popping up every day.

We still have a long way to go, but there are significantly more resources today that will help women not only get started in technology roles but also stay and grow in technology roles.