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The latest candidate in our series of Q&As with influential women in the technology business in Canada is Jennifer Tramontana, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Canadian Prepaid Providers Organization (CPPO), and President and Founder of The Fletcher Group
Name: Jennifer Tramontana
Job Title: Co-Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Prepaid Providers Organization (CPPO); President and Founder of The Fletcher Group
Years in the Industry: 22 Years
The Quote That Most Inspires You: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” – (Mary Engelbreit)
What drew you to a career in the consumer and/or business technology industry?
It is the ultimate dynamic industry and I love embracing change. Technology needs more women to inform products, processes and the people that will lead in the future. The nature of the industry drives how we shop, spend, connect, interact, learn, and engage with others.
Have you encountered any roadblocks along the way that were related to your gender?
The most notable roadblock is being the only woman at the table, which happens often. You wonder if there are opportunities you have been left out of when there continue to be so few women in leadership roles in technology.
Having said that, one of my strengths is finding value in under-looked areas. I was able to carve out the right niche and focus for my career, where my expertise surpassed others. That helped eliminate some potential bias, but I do recognize that women continue to face biases in the workplace.
Our company culture at The Fletcher Group was built 100% on real solutions for equitable treatment and opportunities and I work with organizations that help network and mentor women in our industry to achieve their goals.
What unique characteristics or perspective do you feel you bring to your organization as a woman?
An understanding that the multifaceted demands on most women haven’t changed in the last 40 years – managing households, families, and aging parents along with the desire to have a purpose outside the home. We created a company culture that doesn’t offer inconsequential perks and “programs” for women but true solutions that allow her to have an ambitious career and manage whatever personal passions and commitments she may have. When you provide that space, as well as the support and nurturing needed to make it happen, you develop incredible professionals with commitment and curiosity to do truly great things.
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?
Technology has become an industry of very smart individuals who are often educated in a similar bubble, trained in similar process thinking, and reinforced by a network of consultants and source of capital. And there can be good deal of ego involved.
As a generalization, I think women are very interested in building, testing and organically growing business. And in today’s hyper-competitive environment for capital, talent, and customers, it’s harder to build a slow growth, built-to-last company. If there was more space for this, I think you would encounter many more women leaders who come from diverse backgrounds and grow into roles as long-term transformational leaders.
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?
Unlimited opportunity. Structural challenges.
Are there other women in the tech industry who inspire you?
I now live in Austin, Texas and you can’t help but feel inspired by Whitney Wolfe Herd becoming the youngest female self-made billionaire. And [the company] did it with a strong female executive team. It’s an incredible story.
What’s one thing you wish was done differently in the industry, and why?
Taken on more risk. I get excited about possibilities and embracing a vision or forging a new path, but I’m a cautious builder. While that has served me well and helped build a successful and profitable company and a Canadian membership association, I have turned down opportunities because I was unsure how we could succeed. I think 50% of those could have been strong growth opportunities but I needed someone to tell me to go for it. I have a strong network, but I could use more mentoring, even at this stage of my career.
Are you optimistic for the future in general and for the industry?
Yes. The COVID-19 pandemic has identified a myriad of structural problems in the U.S. in particular. One of them is the reliance on women for childcare and the devastating drop of one-million women from the workforce.
On the flip side, I think this is going to help launch a new generation of entrepreneurs who say “no” to the typical path and do things their way.