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International Women’s Day 2021: Meet the Women at Fellow

The women behind Fellow.app share their story, role models, and best advice for other women.

March 8th marks International Women’s Day, a day to recognize the achievements of women around the world and raise awareness about the work that is still left to be done to achieve equality in the workplace.

In honour of #IWD2021, we asked the Women at Fellow to tell us about their story, role models, and best advice for other women.

We hope that you enjoy meeting the women behind Fellow.app! 👋

Alexandra Sunderland

1 Tell us about yourself

Hi! I’m an Engineering Manager here at Fellow, I’ve been on the team for the last 2.5 years and have been working in tech for nearly the last decade. I got into Engineering for its unique combination of logical thinking and creativity, and I couldn’t imaging myself doing anything else! Sometimes I’ll take that to the extreme and build projects like an internet browser for your phone that uses just SMS to transfer data — or combine tech with sewing, and design 3D printed elements for my clothes (I can also plug my laptop into my sewing machine, how cool is that??). At the moment I’m passionate about building relationships, solving the growing pains of engineering teams, laying the foundation for great processes and management, and contributing that knowledge back to the community through conference talks, blog posts, podcasts, and however else I can help.

2 Who is a woman that inspires you?

I’m often told about how similar I am to my late grandma, Nancy. We have scrapbooks with newspaper clippings about how she was a top student, letters from universities offering her full scholarships, and pictures of her as the only woman in her science/engineering graduating class — and as the only woman on her team at IBM, where she got a job as a computer engineer right out of school in the 1960s. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to be resilient in face of all the adversity there would have been, and for all of that she inspires me.

3 What advice would you share with other women?

Be stubborn, make your voice heard, and don’t apologize for taking up space. You matter, and you’ll get to whatever your goals are a hundred times faster if you go into every situation with confidence, even if it’s just the appearance of it.

Sarah Collins (Wong)

1 Tell us about yourself

I’m a Manager of Customer Success at Fellow. I’m passionate about our customers, hosting events, personal/professional growth and energy work. Outside of work, I’m very social! I love catching up with friends and family, and in non-COVID times, hosting parties and events. I recently launched my blog Gather Local as a creative outlet! I enjoy writing and taking most of my own content photos and it’s given me a lot more appreciation for our own marketing team and all of the amazing things they do! I also love wine, my fur children, long walks in the woods and learning about energy work. I recently got my Reiki L1 certification and I’m so excited to continue to grow in that space.

2 Who is a woman that inspires you?

I have to pick one?! Recently I’ve been inspired by Reese Witherspoon because she started her own production company to focus on telling female-driven stories starring strong female characters, written and produced by women. This is not the norm in the entertainment industry and I celebrate women that are disrupting culture through positive leadership. In my professional life, I’m inspired by some amazing women that I’ve worked with. Sabrina Leblanc, Shea Cole, Katy McFee and Erin Blaskie are women that I’ve worked with that I have an incredible amount of respect for. These amazing women are unafraid to ask for what they want, take on big challenges and speak their truth in a very relatable way. Most importantly to me, they support the women around them on their way up!

3 What advice would you share with other women?

Be the same you at work AND outside of work. Don’t hide behind a mask you think is more professional because it’s going to force you to segment your growth into two categories: work and personal. The reality is that your personal and professional life are going to overlap. If you make growth a focus and you’re the same person in and out of the virtual office you’ll find you’re much happier with your journey in both and it allows you to grow much faster.

Manuela Bárcenas

1 Tell us about yourself

I’m Manuela, the Marketing Manager at Fellow! I joined the company in 2018 as the first marketing hire and have loved every moment of the ride. 🚀

I was born in Colombia but moved a lot during my childhood. I lived in Ecuador (3 years) and Peru (6 years) before moving to Canada in 2014.

I like to say I’m a personal growth enthusiast because I love learning about personal development and productivity. Whenever I’m not reading a personal development book or listening to a podcast you can find me at the gym or dancing at a Zumba class!

2 Who is a woman that inspires you?

I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by many women who have inspired and empowered me throughout my life. In my personal life, I’ve always been inspired by sister and my mom – two women who taught me to be confident, positive, and humble.

In my professional life, I’m inspired by the women at Fellow (Sarah, Alexandra, Mikaela, Kamela, Moni, and Rachel) every day. I’m amazed by the things they’re able to accomplish and the amount of effort and passion that they put into their work.

Finally, one Woman in Tech that has always inspired me is Sheryl Sandberg (Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and the founder of LeanIn.Org). Reading the book “Lean In” was one of the best decisions I made when I started my career and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about female leadership and the importance of equality in the workplace.

3 What advice would you share with other women?

1. Sit at the table and speak up! Be an active participant in every meeting you attend and know that your perspective is always valuable.

2. Never stop learning. Challenge yourself to learn something new every week (or even better, every day!). Listen to podcasts, read books, and reach out to mentors in your field.

3. Track your impact and goals. One of my favourite ways to overcome imposter syndrome is to keep track of the positive feedback I receive from my manager and peers throughout the year. I also keep track of the projects I’m proud of and the goals I achieved at work. This can be a great way to understand the impact you’re having on the organization, as well as a helpful resource whenever you’re preparing for a promotion or salary negotiation!

Kamela Nizio

1 Tell us about yourself

I’m Kamela, Fellow’s Marketing Coordinator! 👋 Outside of work, you can find me reading a good book, getting lost on Pinterest while virtually designing my dream home or listening to a podcast while I walk my 6 month old puppy! I’m passionate about all things lifestyle, mindset and productivity, which I write about in my blog (kamelanizio.com). I also freelance social media manage on the side and volunteer for Women in Communications and Technology.

2 Who is a woman that inspires you?

It’s hard to pick just one! I am constantly inspired by the network of women I surround myself with. One woman that has inspired me my whole life would be my mom! She has always shown me where hard work can get you and the importance of taking care of ourselves and loved ones. Her passion and entrepreneurial skills never ceases to amaze me.

3 What advice would you share with other women?

Stay focused on your goals and what you want out of life. It can be so easy to get distracted by other people’s achievements and comparing ourselves to social media. But by setting your intentions and working towards what will make you feel the most fulfilled is the most important thing you can do.

Moni Ahmadi

1 Tell us about yourself

Hi, I’m a Quality Assurance Analyst at Fellow. I love my job, and I’m passionate about learning more about QA aspects and the methodologies in project management. Also, I can say that studying applied mathematics at the university made me a logic enthusiast character. It’s been a year that we’ve been working remotely, so I’ve learned a lot to make a balance in my personal and professional life! I do some exercise and stretch in the mornings before starting my day, and it lifts my spirits. I can say it’s been my best new habit recently. I love swimming, running, chatting with friends, watching new movies, playing chess, and I’m thrilled to start playing violin after years!

2 Who is a woman that inspires you?

Susan Wojcicki inspires me the most in the tech world as a successful woman. She joined Google as its 16th employee and rose up the ranks to become YouTube’s CEO in 2014, which now has about 2 billion monthly users. She is also a mom of five, she is often quoted talking about the importance of finding a balance between family and career and I love the way she thinks about life.

3 What advice would you share with other women?

Just believe in yourself. There is nothing that women can’t do! Don’t fear about the future, just do your best at the moment! Travel and see the world as much as possible! And last but not least, leave your comfort zone and be courageous to discover the world and gain valuable experience!

Mikaela Friedrich

1 Tell us about yourself

I’m Mikaela and I work in Customer Operations here at Fellow! It sounds kind of cheesy, but I’ve always been passionate about helping people. Which lead me to pursue science at Dalhousie University. But I found the long timeline associated with research, unfulfilling. Sure I’d find out something new about a very specific area, but I didn’t feel like that was the impact that I wanted. Which led me to Venture for Canada and later Fellow. At Fellow, I get to help people make meetings and work a bit better. And I kind of love it! Outside of work, I’m obsessed with British Panel Shows including Taskmaster, Would I Lie to You, and QI. I’m also a big sports fan, I love to bake, and hiking with my family.

2 Who is a woman that inspires you?

Angela Merkel – the current German Chancellor. As you might be able to tell from my last name, I have German heritage. I find it so cool that Merkel has a PhD in Physical Chemistry and then went on to become the “defacto leader of Europe” and dealt with various world crises with a calm hand. Merkel isn’t the showiest of politicians and her authenticity at the highest level is something that I find remarkable.

3 What advice would you share with other women?

There are so many directions to take to answer this question – some get very philosophical but I’ll try and keep it short and sweet

1. Embrace a growth mindset. My manager gave me the book “Mindset: the new psychology of success” for Christmas. I don’t think that I can phrase this any better than Carol Dweck – so I would suggest adding that book to your reading list 🙂

2. Be authentically you. Sometimes it’s incredibly hard to standout and be different. But I found that the best experiences that I’ve had so far are because I thought, “F*** it” and was just me. It’s also easier to form genuine relationships with people when you aren’t pretending.

3. When you are feeling anxious/on edge about something, walk through the “what-ifs” scenarios. Don’t get caught up in the spiral of “what-ifs” but instead think them through and come up with a plan to address them. For example, I have a cousin who is a hairstylist and I used to take the bus to get to my appointment. So the first “what-if” is what if I miss the bus and run late? I’ll text my cousin giving her the heads up, and catch the next one.

Rachel Harrison

1 Tell us about yourself

My name is Rachel and I’m a Software Developer here at Fellow! I mainly work on our integrations with other platforms. Outside of work I’m really involved in my local Rotaract club and in my free time I love to knit and cross-stitch. I’m especially passionate about the intersection of law and technology in our quickly changing world!

2 Who is a woman that inspires you?

I can’t narrow it down to just one, but all the women who stuck with me for three years of computer science classes in high school. There were only a handful of us in the class the first year and there were fewer and fewer each subsequent year. Their dedication to our class projects and eventually our coding competitions, in a class full of men, was incredible. Seeing them shine really inspired me to stick with the classes as well and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. Even now as they pursue careers across different STEM fields, they continue to inspire me with their perseverance and drive.

3 What advice would you share with other women?

Speak up! I spent a lot of my years in both high school and university not speaking up in classes and at work because I was so scared of being wrong. Learning how to ignore that feeling and be confident in your knowledge is hard but so, so worth it.

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