Women’s Rights Day

Women’s Rights Day

Women’s Rights Day

Information technology (IT), traditionally a male-dominated industry, has been undergoing a transformation in recent years, with more and more women entering the field. This evolution can be felt on a daily basis, and we are witness to how it is considerably enhancing the sector.

That said, there is still a long way to go. Cofomo wants to pave the way and is playing an active role in this change by encouraging more women to take an interest in this field, study it at school and apply for jobs in the industry.

Our company is privileged to have some remarkable women on its team. Each has had her own unique experience as a woman in IT. Some have always worked in the field, while others decided to move into it later in their careers. Nevertheless, their contribution to the IT sector is a source of inspiration to us. We are sharing their profiles and backgrounds with you, so that you too can be as inspired as we are.

For Mélanie Labbé, Vice President at Cofomo, being a woman in IT has never been an obstacle in her career. To her, the ultimate goal is to value talent, regardless of gender.

Bold and self-assured, Mélanie made her mark as soon as she joined CMI Group, a company recently acquired by Cofomo. Starting out as a business analyst, she quickly rose through the ranks to join the management committee, eventually achieving partnership status. From the outset, she made a commitment to her boss, assuring him that she would far exceed his expectations—a promise she has kept.

Now Vice President at Cofomo, she is also the mother of three boys, sits on several boards of directors and finds time to work-out five times a week. With her pragmatic leadership, straight-talking style and unshakeable determination, both at work and at home, Mélanie is an inspiring role model: a woman who has successfully established herself in a traditionally male-dominated environment.

In my opinion, the most important thing is to place the most competent people in the right positions.”

— Mélanie Labbé

Meanwhile, project manager Isabelle Gervais has experienced a few episodes of mansplaning (a situation where a man explains to a woman something she already knows) during her career, as well as situations where she was falsely assumed to be the secretary in meetings. Fortunately, she didn’t let that stop her and quickly asserted her exceptional skills to their rightful value. Over time, Isabelle forged her character and built her confidence as a woman in IT.

A true “IT geek,” Isabelle emphasizes that while technical skills are important in a project, what truly matters is humanity: the ability to build connections with team members, understand them, motivate them, and bring everyone together.

Isabelle’s passion for IT is nothing new; she grew up in it. At first, she was reluctant to work in this field for fear of mixing work and passion, aware that she would be investing herself intensely in the task. Indeed, she often works without seeing the clock ticking, fully engaged in her task. Upon realizing the myriad opportunities presented by the field of IT, she embraced it without hesitation. Her career path eventually led her to a management position at Cofomo, where she now feels valued and encouraged to take her place and shine.

The more I spoke to male developers and IT professionals, the more I realized I was on the same level as them. I was able to assist them and, in some cases, even solve problems that they had not been able to identify.

— Isabelle Gervais

Sarah-Kim Lethe made a similar observation. In her opinion, there is still a general lack of awareness of the field of IT and the countless opportunities it offers. She is convinced of the importance of promoting the diversity of opportunities in the sector, not just to women, but to everyone.

Sarah-Kim’s entry into the field of IT was not predestined. Armed with a strong expertise in business development and talent acquisition, she was approached one day for an IT recruitment assignment. Quickly immersed in the heart of the matter, she had to rapidly acquire knowledge about the sector. It was at that moment that she got the bug for this field in which she has been evolving for nearly 10 years.

From the outset of her career in IT, Sarah-Kim quickly noticed a strong male presence, leading her to question how to promote the inclusion of women in the field. Through open house events and conferences, she actively engaged in numerous projects aimed at encouraging women’s presence in IT. She believes that women bring significant added value to the sector, thanks in particular to their vision and leadership, which complement those of men.

Inspired by Cofomo’s distinctive approach characterized by its openness and inclusion efforts, Sarah-Kim quickly felt at home within the organization. From the start, she felt that she had ample space to thrive and progress in her career as a woman.

It’s all about balance. All sectors benefit from a balance between men and women, including the IT sector. We complement each other in our approaches.

As a very loyal and intuitive person, I can feel when I’ve found the place where I belong. Within Cofomo, I’ve found a company that aligns perfectly with my core values.

— Sarah-Kim Lethe

According to Natasha Bérubé, the secret to success lies in the exchange of good practices. When she transitioned into the IT field, Natasha joined a team entirely composed of male web developers. Fortunately, she was welcomed by open-minded individuals who quickly realized that the expertise of professionals, often women, was key to optimizing computer systems. It was her versatility, desire to learn, and dedication that made her stand out, prompting her managers to trust her with significant tasks.

Natasha is at the heart of a project with the potential to revolutionize the province’s healthcare sector through IT. Having started her career in occupational medicine, she progressed within this professional domain before immersing herself in the technical aspects of computer science. It is her ability to juggle between these two domains that constitutes her strength today.

Although she acknowledges that women may sometimes be required to prove their skills more extensively before being fully recognized, Natasha notices a significant progress towards gender parity in the IT field since the beginning of her career. Over time, she has had the opportunity to meet excellent female web developers with sharp analytical skills. According to her, this industry welcomes women with open arms.

The inclusion of more women in IT will help break down silos so that technologies can respond even more effectively to specific needs.

— Natasha Bérubé

The path to IT doesn’t necessarily have to be linear. The journey that led Nancy Mirsky to her role as Executive Director, Client Success, at Cofomo has not been a straight line. On the contrary, she allowed herself to be open to new experiences and had the courage to take risks throughout. With the guidance of key figures throughout her career—and by continuously checking in with herself—she found the place where she belongs, at one of Canada’s top IT companies.

Nancy started her career in an administrative role at an Ottawa start-up, when the region was known as the Silicon Valley of the North. It soon became clear that she had the skills and mental acuity to do so much more. She assessed the needs of her employer and created her own job. As she gained experience and confidence working amongst IT professionals and “techies” of all levels, her boss at the time continued to give her new responsibilities and she continued to exceed expectations.

Eventually, through mergers and acquisitions, economic downturns and bounce-backs, a brief return to school and her ability to connect with people, Nancy landed her dream job at Cofomo. There, she builds and manages client and consultant relationships within her portfolio of 15+ federal government departments, assesses clients’ information management and IT needs, and works with a team to respond to Government of Canada bids.

Though Nancy acknowledges that there still can exist a glass ceiling for women—in IT as in any other industry—she believes in Cofomo’s values and supports its policies, such as an equal pay scale for women and men. Since joining the company over 11 years ago, she has always felt that her voice is heard, and she’s been given the space and the trust to grow into a senior role.

Throughout her career, it wasn’t always easy being the only woman in a boys’ club. But over the years, she’s seen that attitudes change, and she has high hopes for women entering the field.

I think that anyone can excel and reach their ambitions. They just have to be clear on the motives behind those ambitions which comes from constantly checking in on yourself.

— Nancy Mirksy

Their advice to women who wish to make the leap into the field of IT:

Mélanie Labbé:Go for it. Pursue your goals. Go where you want to go and disregard the fact that you are women.

Isabelle Gervais:Forget about being afraid. Make mistakes. They are the best opportunities to grow.

Sarah-Kim Lethe:Take the time to explore the endless possibilities offered by IT, as it is a field for the future. Be inspired by the numerous remarkable women making their mark in the sector.

Natasha Berubé:Apply for positions that may seem intimidating to you and trust your transferable skills.

Nancy Mirsky:Check on yourself, identify your core motivations and values, and pursue your ambitions with great determination.

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