Switchboard sponsors the BC Tech Association’s #WhatWorks Women in Tech Series

By Karda Rolland-Berge

November 4, 2019

As a female-led company specializing in tech with a predominantly female team, it’s no surprise that we’re passionate about female representation in the tech sector – we’ve even written about it before. So when the BC Tech Association (BC Tech) announced their inaugural #WhatWorks series focus would be Women in Tech, we knew we had to put our money where our mouth is and become sponsors. 

Acknowledging that the latest CBRE report put female representation in BC tech’s sector at a meagre 18%, the #WhatWork series aims to move the needle on female representation in tech. With a can-do spirit, we are all too familiar with in the West, BC Tech is holding a number of events held from October to December focusing on #WhatWorks in order to share the solutions and not dwell on the problem. 

Their first workshop, Negotiation 101, aimed at getting women comfortable with negotiations to empower them in their careers. Sigh, negotiations… something we deal with all too often, and so rarely look forward to. Whether I am negotiating a contract, Karli is haggling with vendors, or Elysa is negotiating with stakeholders, negotiating as women is something we deal with on the daily. At Switchboard, our days are often filled with countless emails, many meetings, and more cups of coffee than we can count. Though ensuring women succeed in tech is a cause close to our hearts, we rarely take the time to participate in the conversation and develop our own skills. 

So when the opportunity arose to learn from the iconic Jill Tipping – C-Suite extraordinaire, M&A maestro, tech scaling aficionado—we knew we had to jump on the opportunity. Sometimes it’s not enough to sponsor a cause you care about, you also need to get your butts in the seats, you know? In an unprecedented move, three of our team members attended Negotiation 101. We put away our phones, powered down our laptops and jumped in with two feet.

Right from the start, Jill flipped our understanding of negotiations as a zero-sum, winner-takes-all game, and re-focused us on valuing our relationships with the negotiating parties. That was the beginning of what turned into nearly two hours of ‘lightbulb’ moments and deep reflections on our own negotiation styles. When we debriefed as a team we discovered we had three main takeaways:

  1. To get a good deal, we need optimal outcomes—there can be no good result if one side feels like they lost. 
  2. Have a hard time negotiating for yourself? Start seeing yourself as the client. You often put your client’s needs first, do the same for yourself when you’re negotiating.
  3. Treat meetings like mini-negotiations (!!!): We don’t want to sound dramatic and call this groundbreaking, but it definitely was the most life-changing thing we took away from this workshop. So many of us spend countless hours in meetings that appear to go nowhere and only create more work for ourselves.

Our team has already committed to the remaining events in the #WhatWorks series, and we hope you’ll join us. The next workshop (we can’t wait!) on November 6, Speaking Up, provides tools for effective communication and public speaking to equip you to be heard and influential.

Be sure to come up and introduce yourself if you see us there! Also a shoutout to other sponsors who are helping make this possible, including our friends at Innovate BC


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