The latest candidate in our series of Q&As with influential women in the technology business in Canada is Rashel Hariri, Marketing Consultant and Host, She’s Interesting, a podcast and community about business, money, and well-being, highlighting the stories of high-achieving women over 30
Name: Rashel Hariri
Job Title & Company: Marketing Consultant and Host of She’s Interesting
Years in the Industry: 14 Years
The Quote That Most Inspires You: “The universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; everything that you want, you already are.” (– Rumi) (I love Rumi quotes, but this one in particular is a great reminder to look inward, stay focused, and have confidence that everything I need I have within me.)
What drew you to a career in the consumer and/or business technology industry?
I have always been innately fascinated by technology and innovation, and I’m lucky that all throughout my career, I’ve worked in roles where I was at the forefront of technology and digital advancements.
Early in my career, I worked at ING DIRECT (now Tangerine Bank), which was exclusively an online and phone-only bank. There were no branches or long queues, everything was done remotely. At a time when most Canadians were used to waiting in line at one of the Big Five, we were launching a mobile app and were the first bank to introduce chip cards.
I then moved to McDonald’s and joined the digital team to lead the McDonald’s Digital transformation, which included the launch of the McDonald’s app, McDelivery, Order Kiosks in restaurant, and the launch of award-winning digital and social media campaigns to drive sales and engagement with Gen Z and Millennials.
My last stop before becoming a solo consultant was at Shopify where we enabled entrepreneurs to build successful online businesses from anywhere in the world with the power of Shopify’s ecommerce platform.
The common thread in my career has always been leaning into businesses and roles that enabled me to flex my marketing skills in a tech enabled environment.
Have you encountered any roadblocks along the way that were related to your gender?
I’ve been fortunate to have the support of both male and female leaders throughout my career, fostering an environment that values equality. However, in certain tech social settings, I have encountered instances where my gender became a factor. Whether directly or indirectly, I’ve faced dismissive attitudes or underestimation based on my appearance. Despite these challenges, I’m not one to shy away from addressing bad behaviour. My hope is that by doing so, we can create a more inclusive and respectful environment for everyone.
What unique characteristics or perspective do you feel you bring to your organization as a woman?
I lead with high standards and expectations, and I believe that when you can be real with your team and give them autonomy, they will feel more valued and perform better. Women led businesses and initiatives tend to have a lower turnover rate, higher productivity, and a higher happiness rating. As we look to redefine the future of work and let go of unrealistic expectations and “hustle” culture, I think we’ll find that a wholistic female leadership drives higher performance.
In fact, companies that have more than 30% female executives are more likely to outperform companies that don’t. And through She’s Interesting, I’m bringing a bold and transparent conversation to my community about money and business. My aim is to make these topics as casual and accessible as possible.
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?
Absolutely, I strongly believe that it’s never too late for women to transition into the technology industry. To attract more women, particularly into high-level positions, the tech industry can take several important steps.
Equitable hiring processes and fair pay: Tech companies should conduct audits of their hiring processes to ensure they are equitable and free from gender bias. Offering fair and transparent pay is essential for attracting and retaining talented women leaders.
Inclusive leadership promotion: We need to break away from the traditional “tech-bro” culture and actively promote inclusivity. This means hiring more women and elevating them to leadership positions.
Supportive communities: Establishing platforms and communities, such as She’s Interesting, is crucial. These online and IRL (in real life) spaces provide a supportive network from women in tech and business to learn from and share experiences. Being part of a strong and thriving community is one of the foundations of success.
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’m slowly seeing a change in the tide, but there is a lot more work to be done.
Are there women in the tech industry who inspire you?
Absolutely, there are so many women in tech that inspire me, and one individual whose journey stands out is Tiffany Janzen. Tiff was my third guest on She’s Interesting and she shared her remarkable career evolution from model to software developer, and ultimately, the Founder of Tiffintech, an influential and growing online community of over 500K followers. Tiff’s ability to embrace the unknown and transition into a completely new field, and thrive, is inspiring.
What are some of the misconceptions/myths about women working in the technology space that you’d like to dispel?
The idea that women working in the technology space need to assimilate and adopt the appearance or communication style of their male counterparts is so bizarre to me. We often hear of the “tech dress code” and I vehemently disagree that you need to lose your authenticity and conform to a dress code to do well in your job.
What’s one thing you wish was done differently in the industry, and why?
I wish there were more female venture capitalists writing cheques. I’d like to see [women] take a larger share of the pie. The current statistic that women make up less than 1.8% of VC funding is alarmingly low. More women decision-makers in VC would positively impact the number of women-led companies securing funding.
Are you optimistic for the future in general and for the industry?
1,000%, yes! I approach life with a positive outlook and gratitude. I am excited about the potential impact of the next generation on the future of technology. I am committed to actively championing a more equitable future for women within the tech and business community, utilizing my platform at She’s Interesting. By sharing the stories of women in business, I believe we can drive greater awareness and education, playing a crucial role in shaping a more inclusive and dynamic future.