Marcie Jones on Mentorship and her Career Journey
Tell us about your role as Director of Digital Technologies at Shaw
As Director of Digital technologies, I’m responsible for all the technologies that enable self-serve options for Shaw’s customers, whether that be purchase, service or support on any of the products we offer through the digital channel. My goal is to enable customers to use digital and online channels so they can help themselves, rather than our call centers and some of our more costly channels to engage with Shaw.
What got you into that kind of role?
I’ve always worked in the digital marketing space. I went to school as a technologist, and did a bachelor’s of information systems, and found I liked using my creative skills just as much as my technology skills. I worked with a small agency for a while before working for Critical Mass, an international agency local to Calgary, where I was able to hone my craft and fall in love with all things online and digital. Utilizing technology to solve business problems. I worked in an agency environment for 12 years before starting at Shaw. Shaw matched a lot of the values that I wanted out of my work experience; it enabled me to balance my career and my family life.
What are some things that helped you get to where you are today?
First I would say incredibly honest mentorship – mentors that didn’t just build me up, but helped me see gaps that I didn’t see in myself. I benefitted from having honest conversations with mentors that were really humbling, but also created a desire to have a higher sense of self-awareness. You aren’t just born with self-awareness. Others help you find and create that awareness in you, and I don’t think people credit how high of a self-awareness you must have to go into leadership roles. It’s not just mentoring and coaching, but having those really honest conversations with yourself.
Another thing that has helped me is sponsorship. A career sponsor was someone who believed in me, and put me forward for opportunities that I didn’t see for myself. I think as females, we don’t always do ourselves justice and go for roles outside of our comfort zones. Similarly, as women, we are often so focused on our own breakthroughs that we forget to break through for others as well. Whenever you hit an achievement, look back and ask yourself how you are going to pay it forward for other women. Giving back to the community is how we can start the cycle to get more women in leadership positions.
How do you start that honest conversation to get constructive criticism?
I think it starts with a relationship of trust. You have to know that they truly have your best interests in mind, and they have to feel comfortable giving you that honest feedback. I think very few corporate environments have the level of trust that enables those conversations. Corporate environments foster the boardroom table conversation, therefore it is up to you go build those relationships outside the boardroom.
It isn’t easy having these kinds of conversations, but know that they are highlighting things that you don’t see. If you saw them you’d have already fixed them. As hard as it might be, you have to take that feedback and criticism, and use it to empower you. Be willing to recognize your emotions- all the power you have, you move past the voices in your head. So use the power and emotions for good instead of self- destruction.
Would you say that that is something that being a woman we are more susceptible to?
I do. I think that we have a lot of internal struggles because we are naturally nurturing and care so deeply about others opinions. I think we have to pick and choose the opinions that we can use to make us stronger, without being overwhelmed and letting them destroy us. I heard at a conference once that women can hold 6 concurrent thoughts, while men can only hold 2-3, which can be an advantage or disadvantage, depending on how you chose to use it.
Do you have any advice for young women entering the tech industry?
I’d say look at technology in the way you use it today, not the way it’s defined in a textbook. Technology is such a broad term and I think we need to get rid of the paradigm. There’s so many more opportunities than programming; I don’t know a single line of code or anything about networks, but I know how customers want to use technology, and that makes me a believer in it. I can relate a business conversation to a technology conversation, and allow the customer to engage and interact with the company in new ways.
I also think it’s really interesting how a female perspective can change the technology conversation. The reality of tech and business is that there is a lot of grey, as opposed to black and white. The technology of 1’s and 0’s and black and white is history, and to be successful in tech and business you have to thrive in the grey. Back to the 6 concurrent thoughts, women naturally navigate the grey areas a lot better. Women are creative, they are story tellers, and they find solutions.
What’s a quote you live by and why?
I have two favourite quotes.
First is to young women: “fake it till you make it.” We can do more than we think we can. As women, we carry a lot of self-doubt, so when we think we are faking it we are usually making it. If convincing yourself that you need to fake it is what it takes to boost you up, then do that, cause I guarantee that you can make it.
Another one that I totally love, and I love that it speaks to the power of network – “my network is my net worth.” When you get bogged down with the day to day and what you need to accomplish, it’s easy to lose sight of the people in the conversation and how cyclical your career can be. Value every interaction in your network as your net worth and look at the larger perspective of what you’re doing. I don’t think I’ve written a resume in over 10 years. Every position I’ve gotten has been through my network, referrals and word of mouth.