Leigh Tynan

WOMEN IN TECH: Q&A With Leigh Tynan, Director, Telus Online Security

The latest candidate in our series of Q&As with influential women in the technology business is Leigh Tynan, Director, Telus Online Security, an online security solution for Canadians.

Name: Leigh Tynan

Job Title & Company: Director, Telus Online Security

Years in the Industry: 18 Years

The Quote That Most Inspires You: There are so many great quotes, it is hard to choose just one. My top two are: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” (-Maya Angelou) and “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” (-Henry Ford)

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

I joined Telus almost 18 years ago where I now serve as the director of Telus Online Security, Canada’s most comprehensive protection against cyber threats and identity theft. Prior to this, I spent 10 years with Coors Canada (now known as Molson Coors), where I worked in field marketing, driving the growth and transformation of the Coors Light brand through retail, on premise, and community programming. This role was always evolving and I grew along with it! Over time, I realized that the schedule wasn’t conducive to having a young family and sought a change. 

I received a personal recommendation to consider a career at Telus, and while it wasn’t something I had previously considered, my background in the B2B space provided relevant and transferable skills.

Over the past 18 years at Telus, I have had many incredible roles supporting small business, SMB, enterprise and consumer segments, leading acquisition marketing, marketing communications, pricing, product, municipal relations, community marketing and now online security. I chose Telus because it offered a breadth of opportunities to try new things and explore untapped areas, and have stayed because of the incredible people and amazing culture. It’s important to always be learning and growing, and ending up in tech and online security is a testament to that.

At the onset of the pandemic, I was supporting the community marketing team, and we made the difficult decision to temporarily redeploy many team members to other areas of the businesses as the world shut down. I was then asked to take a look at a new area of the business and determine what was needed to successfully launch and scale Telus Online Security. I set about building a plan and a team to drive exponential growth, now delivering over 30,000 new subscribers per month, and am so proud of what we have accomplished with our partners at Norton.

Bringing an entrepreneurial mindset and dissatisfaction with the status quo, we continue to work hard to drive awareness and educate Canadians on the importance of being more cyber aware and taking measures to protect themselves against online threats. Today, I oversee the Telus Security marketing portfolio, including Online, SmartWear, and SmartHome Security as well.

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

I have not encountered any roadblocks that I haven’t been able to overcome. Early on in my career after returning from my first mat leave, a very senior leader in the organization I was working in said to me “but you have been gone for a year, how could you possibly come back and be successful in this role?”

I was so taken aback that he could think being on mat leave made it so I couldn’t perform my job, and do so at a high level.  At the time, I responded respectfully by telling him I disagreed and felt confident about my abilities. My inside voice said “you just watch me!” 

We need to choose not to be held back when we encounter biases, believe in ourselves, and never give up.  As Wayne Gretzky said, “you miss 100 per cent of the shots you don’t take,” and Thomas Edison said “you only fail when you stop trying,” so go for it!

Leigh Tynan

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

I try not to think about what a typical role for a woman would look like, and instead focus on what I find interesting and where I can continue to learn and grow. There are incredible opportunities in the cyber security industry for anyone, and driving diversity is key to our collective success.

With only 10%-20% of the cyber security workforce in Canada identifying as female, according to York University, it really shows the huge opportunity to drive greater diversity. While it may not be a typical role for women yet, it absolutely can be if we help raise awareness for the varied types of roles that exist.

There is a perception that this industry is incredibly technical, and while that is true for some roles, like forensics, there really are a broad range of roles.The cyber industry includes roles in legal, marketing, public relations, customer service, and sales, just to name a few. We need diversity in the industry as everyone lends their own unique experiences and perspectives to the work that we do. In many cases, women are the decision makers in the household, and we need to understand how to best reach them. It doesn’t matter what age you are, or who you are: with curiosity and a growth mindset, we can all find space in this ever-changing industry.

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?

Bursaries, education programs, and mentorship all play their role in setting women up for high-level positions. From an industry standpoint, leaders in the technology space have a responsibility to empower and drive equality for women within their organizations. Dedicated programming is essential for ALL levels, because the earlier support starts – the more impact it has on propelling women into high-level positions. For example, I’m a co-chair of Connections, Telus’ global resource group committed to advancing gender equity at all levels and making Telus a place of choice to work for women in Canada and internationally. At Connections, we offer specific programs to drive advancement for women and provide opportunities, from panels to mentorships.

Programs like Connections and Telus Wise are examples of the tools and resources we have to make technology not so scary. When I think back to my journey into the telecom world, I didn’t know much about it. Sure, I had Internet and used a cell phone, but I wasn’t familiar with the intricacies. Now working in cyber security, it’s still a constant learning and growth experience, and that is part of the fun.

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?

We are all human beings, doing our best everyday. Be confident and believe in yourself and speak up. As Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Are there women in the tech industry who inspire you?

Working at Telus, I am surrounded by amazing women in tech that inspire me everyday!

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

I want women to believe they belong anywhere – follow your interests and passions and know that diversity makes us all stronger.

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

I try not to focus on regrets, however I wish I had learned to trust my voice a little sooner. I vividly remember being in a meeting and I was scratching my head on an issue and wondering why we were approaching a problem a certain way.  I kept my thoughts to myself, and then another individual asked the exact question I wanted to ask, and it led to a different decision. I should have trusted my voice and raised my question confidently. I have never forgotten that moment, and aspire to always ask my questions, knowing that if I am thinking about something, likely others are as well.

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

I am very optimistic about the future, but I am a positive person by nature. I boil my philosophy down to three behaviours: 1) Be positive and believe you can make an impact on any situation. 2) Be solution focused, there are always ways to overcome obstacles. My favourite question is under what circumstances might something be possible? 3) Be action oriented. If you are waiting for someone else to do something, you will never get done what you want to accomplish.