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The latest candidate in our series of Q&As with influential women in the technology business in Canada is Lise Lapointe, CEO and founder, Terranova Security
Name: Lise Lapointe
Job Title: CEO and Founder, Terranova Security
Years in the Industry: 30 Years
The Quote That Most Inspires You: “To accomplish great things, we must not only act but also dream; not only plan but also believe.” – (Anatole France)
What drew you to a career in the consumer and/or business technology industry?
My career started in teaching, but I quickly – and unexpectedly – got into IT training 30 years ago. I’ve always loved training because it’s something positive; it helps improve people’s lives and situations. I love technology because it’s changing all the time; it’s challenging and so dynamic.
I transitioned into cyber security as my second business venture. I discovered a gap and huge need for end user training in the security market. This decision also satisfied my desire to take on a business and develop a product that can be brought to market globally. We launched the Terranova Security first security awareness course in 2003.
Have you encountered any roadblocks along the way that were related to your gender?
Roadblocks can occur for anyone who is looking to climb in the technology field. That said, there were roadblocks with investors I encountered. They assumed that because I am a woman, I needed more training, mentors, or help in building my business. They were simply underestimating me because I was a woman.
What unique characteristics or perspective do you feel you bring to your organization as a woman?
As a female CEO in the technology and cybersecurity business, I know how important a diverse executive team is for a business. I like to think that any one of our employees at Terranova Security could also be one of our users, which is why it’s important that we have not just a diverse executive team, but also diversity among our workforce overall. Different backgrounds bring different ideas and perspectives, which ensures we are continuously creative in the services and products we offer, but it also provides us with a better understanding of the needs of our users.
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?
What technology needs to attract more women into high-level positions is proper representation in those high-level positions. This is a topic that is very important to me. I strongly believe that an even distribution of men and women is crucial to bringing new ideas and creativity to the table, as well as helping to identify new ways to improve and innovate business strategy and operations.
As an entrepreneur, women have played an important role in every organization that I have owned or led. Fifty-four per cent of the global Terranova Security employee base is female, while women hold two-thirds of the company’s management positions.
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?
I would say that you will be underestimated because of your gender. Many may think you need more training or mentors when in fact you are more than capable of doing the job.
Are there other women in the tech industry who inspire you?
A woman who inspires me in the tech industry is Shannon Bryne Susko, CEO and founder of Metronome United. She is a very intelligent woman who built a system that helps thousands of companies worldwide find the recipe to success. She also holds strong family values, which I admire.
What are some of the misconceptions/myths about women working in the technology space that you’d like to dispel?
The biggest misconception about women in tech, especially in the cybersecurity space, is that being only focused on work is the only way to succeed. While it is important to be ambitious and strive to succeed, a balance between work and life is just as important to overall health and happiness.
What’s one thing you wish was done differently in the industry, and why?
One thing I wish was done differently in the industry is mentorship for upcoming women in tech. There are many young women who face the initial barriers of the industry, I hope they get their opportunity to learn and grown. Showing that women no longer need to be the minority in the fields and gain the access like everyone else.
Are you optimistic for the future in general and for the industry?
Yes, I am! The industry is evolving day by day and now more than ever new ideas and creativity are needed. The cybersecurity industry continues to face new challenges as cyber attackers look to take advantage of unsuspecting victims. The field will only continue to grow as we move towards advances in the digital space.