I had the great opportunity to be invited by the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal to attend the conference of Randi Zuckerberg as part of the Bell International Leaders series and Women in Tech Ubisoft. I did not know this great entrepreneur at all before. It was a great pleasure to get to know her and discover her many implications for greater diversity in tech.
This article is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM), but all opinions expressed are my own.
Who is Randi Zuckerberg?
Randi studied psychology at Harvard. She is the sister of Mark Zuckerberg who founded Facebook in 2004. The same year, after multiple requests from her brother, she joins the start-up as director of marketing. She founded Facebook Live. In 2011, she resigned from Facebook to found her own agency “Zuckerberg Media”.
Her initiatives for more diversity in technology
Today, she hosts “Dot Complicated“, a weekly radio show on SiriusXM. She has a television show that is currently airing: “Dot.“, an animated show about a girl who likes to make her life easier with technology. She is also an on-air mentor and investor for the television series “Quit Your Day Job”, which aims to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.
In an interview with CNN, Randi Zuckerberg mentioned that she loved what she did at Facebook, but hated being the only woman in the room for almost 10 years. “I always thought that I wanted to be part of the solution, not continue to be part of the problem.” She reveals. “I thought maybe I needed to get out of Silicon Valley to really understand why we were losing women and losing [girls’ interest in IT],” says Zuckerberg.
To be a part of that solution, she creates content to reach women and encourage them to take interest in STEM and in entrepreneurship. Apart from producing Dot., she is the author of four books for girls and women which aim to inspire girls and women to get into technology.
From the first minutes, Randi literally took possession of the stage and conquered the entire audience. I loved her jokes about her brother: “That other Zuckerberg you probably know has not graduated from Harvard!” I could immediately recognize myself in her and relate to her journey since she spoke about her experiences, daring to share the less good: “my personal brand is awkwardness!”.
During the first half hour, Mrs. Zuckerberg introduced herself and shared her experience. From the beginnings of Facebook until her departure in 2011, going through all the different opportunities that this work brought her. I recognized myself as well, reminding myself of the different activities that I was able to take part in thanks to my blog and my activities on Instagram and my YouTube channel.
I also realized that even though Randi shared with us all her successes, receiving a call from the White House during dinner, propelling Katy Perry’s tour with Facebook Live … While listening to her, I did not feel like she was boasting. I rather felt that she was inspiring me. A proof that with work, pushing our limits and leaving our comfort zone, we can evolve to maybe get calls from the White House one day.
After the presentation, there were three question sessions under various themes: “Women in Technology”, “Entrepreneurship and Leadership” and, finally, “the future and technology”. Here are some highlights of these discussions:
« Companies make more money when there is more diversity in the room »
« I would encourage any entrepreneur to believe that you’re never as good or as bad as you think you are »
For me, that means not to wiggle your head when a great article about us is published in the newspaper when we receive a scholarship or other honor. But also, all the negative comments, they are not completely right either. I see it a bit as if you have to stay balanced and have just enough confidence in yourself and what you do.
« Even the worst days working for myself are better than the best days working for someone else »
This phrase really touched me too. My passion for social media and my blog takes a lot of my time. Yet, I never feel like I’m working. For me, it’s pure happiness. Even though I like to work at my day job (or study when I’m in school), it’s not the same!
« After 10 years in tech, my best advice to young women is to have a name like Randi, so when you send an email, they think you are a man. I can’t tell you how many meetings I got because of this. »
Thinking about it gives me goosebumps… especially from someone who has a lot of experience in entrepreneurship and Silicon Valley.
The Ubisoft Women in Tech Initiative
Randi Zuckerberg’s lecture is one of the highlights of the Ubisoft Women in Tech initiative, co-developed by the famous video game company and the CCMM. The objective of this initiative is to encourage more young women to pursue careers in technological fields.
As part of Ubisoft’s Femmes en Tech, three women were selected to act as ambassadors because of their unique background in technology: Amira Boutouchent, Julie Tousignant and Catherine Proulx. The three women with unique careers will share their experiences with the public, mainly young women, over the coming months through several events, communication actions and video clips. They will also go on a trade mission to Silicon Valley with nine female representatives of Montreal start-ups.
A panel with these three inspiring women also took place before Randi’s appearance on stage, in front of an audience of several hundred students invited by the CCMM. It was a very relevant exchange about the diversity and the problems faced by women in technology not just on the surface, but really in depth.
To follow the campaign on social networks, use the hashtags: #FemmesenTech #UbisoftMTL
A nice conference, useful for men too!
I loved the conference, and I also recommend that you attend if Randi Zuckerberg is at a conference near you! The event was also useful for our male colleagues, whose presence I always appreciate. It is important for our allies to be aware of the challenges we face as women or minorities in technology!