Sarah Stockdale

WOMEN IN TECH: Q&A With Sarah Stockdale, Founder & CEO, Growclass

The latest candidate in our series of Q&As with influential women in the technology business is Sarah Stockdale, Founder & CEO of Growclass, a course and community specializing in growth marketing, equipping marketers with the technical skills needed for high-growth career opportunities. Growclass is one of the recipients of funding from the new Digital Marketing Skills Canada (DMSC) program, powered by Upskill Canada and championed by the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA).

Fueled with $1.7 million in funding to train 500 students by March 2025 from underrepresented communities across Canada, Growclass is focused on furthering its mission to support women and underrepresented people in marketing, helping them learn practical marketing skills while building a meaningful professional network, to accelerate their career.

Name: Sarah Stockdale

Job Title & Company: Founder & CEO, Growclass

Years in the Industry: 13 Years

The Quote That Most Inspires You: “You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.” (-Angela Davis)

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

I ended up in tech a little bit by accident. When I graduated from my Master’s degree back in 2011, I had two options: work at a big PR firm, or take a three-month contract at a tiny accounting software start-up. The PR firm was the shinier, safer option, but the start-up seemed like the place where I’d learn a whole lot faster. I chose the start-up. They raised a big round of funding, and I was able to stay on the growth team.

Prior to founding Growclass, I also helped lead growth teams for Tilt (acquired by AirBnb) and Wave (acquired by H&R Block). Additionally, I also host The Growth Effect, a Globe and Mail podcast and I author the popular millennial newsletter We Need To Talk About This.

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

Yes. “Yes” is an understatement. Is there a stronger word than yes? I’ve had men assume I was a waitress in a meeting that I was in the room pitching. I have been passed over for roles and promotions. And I have been told that I won’t make it because the VC gestured to my engagement ring.

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

My gender is the least interesting thing about me as a founder, but my experiences as a woman in tech did lead me to found Growclass. I built Growclass because I couldn’t find a space for women and underrepresented people to learn non-fluffy growth marketing skills in a place that didn’t drip of Patagonias and arrogance. Being a woman, having had the experiences I had working at tech start-ups allowed me to see the gap in the market to build the kind of company I wanted to exist in the world. My vision for Growclass is to create the kind of supportive space for both my students and employees that I wish I had early on in my tech career.

Sarah Stockdale

Technology is historically a male-dominated industry, yet the use of tech is fully embraced by women, and many studies even suggest that women 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?

Tech needs to pay and promote underrepresented people. If you want to attract women and people of colour to roles, you need to show them a real career path. That looks like having a diverse board, having an executive team that has the kind of diversity you want reflected in your workforce, having equitable and inclusive hiring practices, and then paying people what they’re worth. If women can’t see your workplace as a space they can thrive and grow, they won’t join.

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?

It can suck, but we’ll make it better together.

Are there women in the tech industry who inspire you?

So many! I have friend-tors I’m learning from constantly, like Melissa Nightingale the Co-Founder of Raw Signal Group. They’re doing incredible work in management training for tech, which we desperately need if we’re going to build more inclusive workplaces. Avery Swartz, the Founder of Camp Tech, is doing incredible work helping folks build AI practices into their workplaces. Joella Almeida is doing amazing things with MedEssist, Fatima Zaidi is building an incredible agency and SaaS company with Quill, Erin Bury is changing how we think about death with Willful. There are too many to list, but I’m constantly inspired by my incredible network and friends in this industry. 

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

Any stereotype you chalk up to gender is absolute nonsense. If you find yourself thinking “women are…” you’ve already made a big professional mistake.

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

Early in my career, I let the opinions of other people, mostly men I worked with, determine how I saw my worth in the industry. My sense of achievement was tied to external validation, such as promotions or praise at work. When you let the opinions of others determine your worth, you’ll always be chasing goals out of your control.

Instead, focus on how you want your career to feel, what you want to learn, and how you want to grow, and then decide if you can get those things where you are right now, or not. Always set goals where you can control the outcomes.

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

Of course! Hope is the first (and most important ingredient) for change.