Tag Archives: technology

Hey Google: Nancy Ting ’94

Head of Consumer and Brand Marketing at Google Hong Kong, globe-trotter Nancy Ting ’94 knows innovation and new technologies really can make the world a better place—and she’s focused on bringing them to market. We checked in with the impressive alumna to see what’s next in tech and ask what advice she has for those who want in.

Whether you’re checking in on Gmail, down a virtual rabbit hole, or asking your Google Home to convert ounces to grams, there are few of us whose lives haven’t been touched by the online powerhouse. More than 3.5 billion searches are conducted on Google each day—that’s 40,000 per second—and it accounts for over 92 per cent of all global internet searches. Somewhere along the way, Google even co-opted our language, switching silkily from noun to verb. “Google it,” has become a go-to phrase, regardless of which search engine you’re on.

“Climb the mountain not so that people can see you, but so that you can see the world.”

So after a year where we spent more time on screens than ever before, we spoke with alumna Nancy Ting ’94, Google’s Head of Consumer and Brand Marketing in Hong Kong, who works for the company that, literally, has all the answers.

Nancy started with Google after moving to Hong Kong in 2010 where she now lives with her seven-year-old daughter. Though her role keeps her busy, Nancy makes sure to prioritize their time together, playing tennis and golf and, most recently, picking up skateboarding.

The alumna graduated from Ridley in 1994, alongside her brother Newton. Their parents had sent them to Ridley to broaden their perspectives; Newton lived in Merritt South and Nancy moved into Gooderham House West. Though it was her first time living away from home, Nancy quickly settled in, recalling fond memories of learning Caribbean dancing from her roommate Philice Davis ’94, her mentor, Mrs. Williams—the first female pilot in St. Catharines—and gathering with the rest of the GWest girls at the home of their House mother, Mrs. Close, she called her ‘second home.’ Nancy still keeps in touch with classmates via social media and catches up with some of them right in Hong Kong.

“I’ve always wanted to solve problems to make the world a better place, so I decided to pursue an engineering degree. I went from not knowing how to turn on a computer to programming circuit boards in four years! So never be afraid to pursue disciplines that seem daunting. If you have the passion, there is always a way.”

After graduation, Nancy attended Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario, where she studied Electrical and Computer Engineering. “I’ve always wanted to solve problems to make the world a better place, so I decided to pursue an engineering degree,” she explains. “I went from not knowing how to turn on a computer to programming circuit boards in four years. So never be afraid to pursue disciplines that seem daunting. If you have the passion, there is always a way.”

Nancy may not have known exactly what the end goal was at the time, but accruing a strong, transferrable skillset enabled her to work toward what she did know she wanted: to make a difference and be able to travel.

“Having a background in science and maths helped me land jobs and projects in different parts of the world,” she says. For Nancy, living in new places is an exciting way to get to know people from different backgrounds and cultures, and it enables her to appreciate different points of view. She’s lived so far in Toronto, London, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Austin, San Francisco, and Beijing.

“The challenging part is that one needs to re-establish one’s social circle,” she responds when asked how she settles into a new spot. “But I’ve found that if you follow your own interest, be it music, yoga or sports, you’ll be able to establish new circles pretty easily.”

The key, she adds, is to be willing to try something new. For example, when she was living in New York, Nancy was drawn to comedy, so she joined improv classes at Upright Citizen’s Brigade. It was an opportunity to meet people outside her work environment—and to have a good laugh while she did it.

That willingness to explore and try new things served Nancy well as she built her career, which has taken several unexpected turns along the way. Nancy’s first job was in Toronto as an eCommerce programmer at IBM, where she programmed internet applications from eCommerce websites to mobile apps to internet banking. Two years later, wanting to learn more about business, she moved to New York and worked for Deloitte Consulting as a strategy and management consultant. She also pursued an MBA at MIT, gaining skills in areas like accounting, finance and marketing and switched industries, becoming an investment banker at Morgan Stanley. Next, Nancy started her own company, Mode Republic, a user-generated magazine which showcased international fashionistas’ daily outfits. The magazine offered a ‘Shop This Look’ feature so you could shop for similar items from online stores.

But it was after moving to Hong Kong that Nancy was offered a position on Google’s marketing team, and she started out doing working for the Ads business in Greater China. “Working for years in different industries and functions, only reinforced my passion to use technology to make the world a better place,” she says. “Google is a company that’s constantly innovating, and it encourages employees to explore new positions and geographies every few years.”

Two years ago, she switched to B2C marketing, and now looks after products like YouTube, Google Play, Google Classroom, Android, and more. “Marketing is a great mixture of arts and science,” she remarks. “We focus on quantitative data analysis as well as identifying true user insight—then we come up with creative campaign ideas and bring them to market.”

The pandemic certainly affected how consumers and businesses alike use technology—a steady progression toward online options was sped up out of necessity, and traditional businesses recognized an urgent need for digitization. As foot traffic was reduced, small businesses were forced to build websites, up their social media game, and figure out digital ads so they could still be found. And, what’s more, they needed to deliver their products and services via those online channels.

“Wellbeing has different definitions for people. It’s important to go through the exercise of making it clear to yourself what makes you happy, what wellbeing means to you. Then you need to openly communicate that to your boss, your co-workers, your family—especially what is your ‘non-negotiable.’”

And it wasn’t only commerce that was affected; day-to-day life still relies on digital tools, be they for work, remote learning or entertainment which, as Nancy notes, brings with it tremendous opportunities in all areas.

Those opportunities mean that roles like Nancy’s are incredibly busy, so of course we have to ask how she manages her time and keeps on top of her own wellbeing—juggling motherhood, managing marketing for a company that’s constantly churning out new products, and tackling the year’s tougher realities like remote work and school.

“Wellbeing has different definitions for people,” she replies. “It’s important to go through the exercise of making it clear to yourself what makes you happy, what wellbeing means to you. Then you need to openly communicate that to your boss, your co-workers, your family—especially what is your ‘non-negotiable.’”

For Nancy, it’s important that she keeps healthy and spends quality time with those who matter. The pandemic was an opportunity to get in shape and keep her immune system strong, and she’s worked over the past months to focus on eating well and exercising. “I turned my biological age back to 25-years-old!” she laughs.

With days filled with meetings, she also sets aside time where she turns off and just focuses on her work, and makes it clear to her colleagues that being there for her daughter—particularly in important moments—is her ‘non-negotiable.’

“It certainly helps that I love what I do for work,” Nancy says. “Even when I have some spare time, I’d be reading about the tech industry or the latest innovations. I’d recommend young Ridleians strive to land a job in a field that aligns with their passion as soon as they can. When your work is something that you enjoy, the wellbeing challenge is significantly reduced.”

“In the coming decades, there will be job titles we’ve never heard of before. Equipping yourself with strong foundational skills in math, science and coding will better prepare you for exciting new job options.”

As students look ahead to their own careers, many of them considering jobs in the tech industry, Nancy recommends they equip themselves with strong foundational skills—like math, science and coding—that will give them plenty of room to pivot when required and to move around.

“In the coming decades, there will be job titles we’ve never heard of before,” she advises. “Those foundational skills will prepare you for exciting new options. And don’t worry if you aren’t good at these things now. I failed Maths and Physics in Junior High. The turning point for me was at Ridley when I had amazing teachers who helped me understand how things work. Seeking great mentors and information will help you to master the latest knowledge—you just need to be inquisitive and invest the time and effort.”

It’s sound advice. As opportunities expand, and with them, our ability to connect with and impact others across the globe, Nancy is the perfect example of someone who has approached her career with a strategically open mind and adventurously open arms. And as we conclude our conversation, each a world away from the other, connected only by a few of clicks, she leaves off with the words she’s always lived by: “Climb the mountain, not so that people can see you, but so that you can see the world.”


This article was printed in the latest issue of Tiger magazine. Learn about our alumni, get community updates and find out where Ridley is heading next! Read more from the Fall 2021 issue.

Data Driven: Jeff Bell ’88

Ridley students and employees spent the past year connecting largely via Microsoft Teams, so we just had to sit down with longtime MS expert, Jeff Bell ’88 to talk tech. Now, the alumnus shares his take on the future of work—and how Microsoft kept us clicking during a global pandemic.  

Jeff takes our call from his home office in Seattle, Washington. “Well, it wasn’t a home office until a year ago,” he explains practically, looking out at the Olympic Mountains, “it was our guest bedroom. But that’s the way the world has changed.” Like many of us, Jeff, too, has been working from home during the pandemic.

Back in 1991, the numbers minded Ridleian took on a summer internship at Microsoft. At the time, Jeff was working on an adaptation kit for companies to put MS-DOS 5.0 in their handheld devices (which he nods to as an essentially early ancestor of the iPhone). His officemates were busy working on Windows 3.1 and employees one door over were tackling applications. Jeff returned to Princeton University that fall to finish up his senior year, then moved out to Seattle as a fulltime Microsoft employee.

“There were always people who worked remotely—we just tended to ignore them. Now we’ve all been that remote person for the past year-and-a-half, there’s that much more awareness of how to make it work for everyone.”

He’s worked there ever since, challenging the ‘Bay Area stereotype’ that people in tech tend to hop from company to company. Over the years, Jeff’s been able to move within the organization and dive deep into a variety of projects that speak to his skills and interests, including type and typography; digital rights management; digital payments and wallets; tools for early e-commerce; and eBooks and ePub standards. And if, like us, you love the ‘Save as PDF’ functionality in Office Suite, you can thank Jeff—he led the small team that worked with Adobe to add it as a built-in feature.

Today, Microsoft employs more than 175,000 people worldwide, and Jeff is an expert on Microsoft 365 subscriptions. The quick pace of technology means they’re always rolling out new features and waiting for customers to renew can be a real drag—for creators and consumers alike. But with people now automating everything from music to razors to poultry, a simple subscription ensures users will always get their mouse on the most current iteration. 

“Think of Netflix as an example,” Jeff explains. “If I were to buy a hard disk or a chip with all the shows on it, but it doesn’t update itself with anything, how exciting is that? People producing a new show would have to wait for viewers to upgrade their Netflix or buy a new TV.” 

“In the software world, we’ve long had this challenge—we’d build all these great new features we really like, but our customers were still using this thing from five years ago that they’d buy new only when they’d buy a new PC. We want to get the updates to everyone faster, and if we can help make that easy, we can give everyone a better experience and a better product.”

“There are a whole lot of paths to being successful. There are smart people everywhere and it takes a lot of people—and a lot of types of people across the board—to deliver products in tech.”

Since March 2020, discussions of secure, collaborative products and ‘work-from-home ergonomics’ have taken on new life as employees perch at kitchen counters, occupy dining room chairs and hunch over coffee tables. 

Though we may have had to keep an eye on our steps, many of us were undeniably lucky to be able to work remotely during a time when the world, in large measure, shut down. Technologies like Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Google Meet kept us connecting, celebrating, and producing. 

MS Teams saw a huge uptick in users over the pandemic, and was one of the fastest growing apps, adding a whopping 95 million users in 2020. More than 500,000 organizations worldwide now use it as their default messaging platform, including over 183,000 educational institutions.

Though he may be working from home these days, for Jeff, connecting virtually is old hat. “At some level, that’s how my old world was. I spent two years where my manager and immediate team actually sat in Dublin, Ireland,” he recalls. “And Microsoft is a decent-sized campus. When I’m working with the commerce team or the payments team and they’re a 10-to-20-minute shuttle ride or walk away, you meet with them on Teams. So much of my work was done on Teams and via email already.”   

Microsoft has been thinking about the future of hybrid work for years. One of the projects Jeff worked on, now nearly a decade ago, was meeting technology and hybrid meetings, with the team considering such things as collaborative notetaking. “We didn’t end up solving the problem at the time, but we made a little headway,” he muses, “and the world moved on. But there’s certainly an interest in watching how things played out once everyone had to go virtual.”  

And in many ways, Jeff’s been in on the experiment, as his own family learned to operate remotely this past year—which included everything from the logistics of virtual orchestra to scrambling to find a Nintendo Switch to play Animal Crossing. Jeff lives in Seattle with his son, Andrew, who’s going into Grade 12, and daughter, Elizabeth, who will be entering Grade 10. His wife, Anna, a lawyer by training and a former JAG officer, is a romance writer. Though there was certainly some trial and error in the day-to-day, the pace slowed for everyone; a smaller stride meant more frequent video calls with Jeff’s Ottawa-based parents, his extended family in Alberta, and his sister, alumna Jensa Morris ’90, who’s now a doctor based in Connecticut. 

He’s also continued to keep active in his downtime, golfing throughout Seattle’s long season and still serious about running—he’s run 20 marathons to date, a passion which goes back to his days as a harrier at Ridley. 

Jeff came to the Lower School over Christmas in Grade 7, having started French immersion earlier that year and wanting a different kind of education. A conversation with family connection Reverend Hunt soon led the young whiz to Ridley—and, once there, Jeff never looked back. He spent the next seven years as a day student. In Lower School, he played cricket, soccer, squash, tennis, and hockey. When he transitioned to Upper School, now a student of Merritt South, he focused on playing hockey and competing both as a harrier and on the tennis courts. He was a Cadet sergeant, a House Prefect, and received both the TR Merritt Matriculation Gold Medal and the Governor General’s Medal. 

Jeff’s impressive skills in mathematics were known widely, so it was of little surprise that he sought a future career in engineering. “There are lots of domains in which you can solve problems, but I was strong in maths and sciences,” he remembers. “Engineering just felt like a place where there are always fun problems to solve and good tools for doing it.”

It was simply a question of where. Jeff was in Grade 12 and applying to Ontario programmes when his teacher, Brian Martin approached him and asked if he’d considered any American schools. He hadn’t, thinking those kinds of plans were years in the making. But it was a late decision which paid off; Jeff got in his applications just under the deadline and was accepted to the engineering programme at Princeton University. 

“It used to be fashionable to talk about how everyone should be fluent in coding—and the expectation of numeracy and comfort in data modelling might sound equally dated in 20 years. But right now, it feels like the easiest people to work with are the ones who can have a conversation about the data.”

What comes across as he talks about his work, however, is that it’s clearly about more than math alone (though he certainly spends his time deep in the numbers): Jeff is essentially a storyteller, contextualizing the data and using it as a tool to gain insight into what consumers are doing (or aren’t), how the business is working (or isn’t), and what’s going to be good for both. What impact are we having? Are we touching people at scale? How can we build the right thing? 

“That fluency is almost more valuable than code,” he agrees, “It used to be fashionable to talk about how everyone should be fluent in coding—and the expectation of numeracy and comfort in data modelling might sound equally dated in 20 years. But right now, it feels like the easiest people to work with are the ones who can have a conversation about the data.” 

And after the past year-and-a-half, the data has a lot to say. Today, Microsoft’s signature problem-solving efforts continue as a workforce contemplates its return to the office. How do workers use the chat function? How do things function when half the meeting’s attendees are remote? Is the chat channel more visible to those who are remote—and is it then ignored by those in the room? As we all inch closer to a new working model, mock-up solutions are popping up across the Microsoft campus. Their teams have been busy learning from what we’ve been doing these past months—and envisioning what a hybrid future might look like. 

“I think we’ll get to a place where we have more of a recognition of those who are remote,” Jeff predicts. “There were always people who worked remotely—we just tended to ignore them. Now that we’ve allbeen that remote person for the past year-and-a-half, there’s that much more awareness of how to make it work for everyone.”

“I have a lot of appreciation for the data scientists; the best ones are artists who understand the numbers and do a great job of storytelling and making sense of the world, making sense of the work we do.”

And, notably, these changes bring with them important conversations about diversity, accessibility, and opportunities to broaden the hiring pool. “While Redmond and Seattle are lovely places, we don’t need to move the whole world here,” Jeff points out practically, citing his organization’s recent hires who will be staying put. “There are smart people everywhere and tons of opportunity. In tech, it takes a lot of people—and a lot of types of people—to deliver products.”

Speaking with Jeff, you can’t help but be excited by what’s to come, knowing these technologies will only expand our reach across both office and globe. And though we’ve each had to pivot over the course of this pandemic, to park our cars and watch our work clothes hang in our closets like question marks—we are the lucky ones. There’s plenty of promise in the ‘new normal,’ status unknown, even as it’s still coming into focus.


This article was printed in the latest issue of Tiger magazine. Learn about our alumni, get community updates and find out where Ridley is heading next! Read more from the Fall 2021 issue.

The Digital Generation: How Technology has Impacted Student Life

It’s now an archaic image. One lonely computer set at the back of the classroom, equipped with Netscape Navigator and Compton’s Encyclopedia. The computer monitor, off-beige in colour, was roughly one foot in depth and weighed approximately 40 pounds. Access to this new classroom technology was, in most schools, given as a reward for good behavior. This was the role of the computer in the classroom in the early 1990s­—not as a functional educational tool, but as a break from class. In fact, at the time, only 20-30 million people worldwide actually owned computers or had access to the internet. Today, there are billions who have access, with the internet being readily available in most of our pockets. Ultimately, digital devices have made their way into the classroom and are an integral part of our day-to-day. 

Twenty years is not a long time when considering the entire chronicle of the history of technology in education. However, in just two decades, technology has brought vast improvements into the classroom, assisting in the way lessons are taught, how information is stored and how students are able to collaborate. There is an ever-evolving relationship between technology and culture, and with the advent of the internet, emails and even laptop integration in schools and workplaces, we have the ability to communicate with ease and speed. At Ridley, the influence of technology has greatly impacted the role of the teacher, who is committed to evolve and grow with each new technological advance.  

We are now more connected, have more information and have even greater technological advances in the classroom than ever before. 

Connection:

We have entered an era where we are connected to everyone around us through the click of a button and at top speed. Through a simple email or text, we are linked with someone on the other side of the world. Email is used to connect students with teachers, teachers with parents and parents with the school community. Mr. Geoff Park ’80 (Department of Social Sciences) remarked on the advantages of this connection: the ease to send and receive work, to remind people about any changes taking place, to arrange to meet students for tutorials, and to send useful links, to name a few. 

Students, especially boarders, can easily stay in touch with their families near or far—a vast difference between the communiqué of 20 years ago. “When I started in 1990”, recalls Ms. Karen Oude-Reimerink (Department of Science), “most boarding students communicated with their parents once a week via a pay phone in residence. Advisors communicated once every six weeks or so (with effort grades) via a phone call. Individual teachers rarely communicated directly with parents – all communication was through the Head of House or the Advisor.”

Although we are more connected than ever before, the drawback is the risk of feeling disconnected and isolated. The fast pace of life that has taken hold of society can sometimes prove to be more of a hinderance than a freeing agent. With the convenience of digital interaction through social media and email, traditional methods of keeping in touch are falling by the wayside, thus creating a dichotomy between the convenience of digital connectivity and the closeness of our relationships. 

Ridley is cognizant of this challenge and has responded to it by implementing a number of measures to promote interpersonal communication. Devices are not permitted in the Great Hall in an attempt to encourage social interaction during meal times, students participate in daily physical activity and there are ongoing organized events and activities in classrooms and the Houses, which allow for students to nurture their social and emotional skills. 

Regardless of the negative effects of online connection, we live in a digital world and the use of technology has become an essential life skill. 

Access to Information:

With the internet being omnipresent in the classroom, there is a difference in the way students research and learn. According to Mr. Chris Gordon (Department of Classical and International Languages), “the world is literally at your fingertips; we can easily learn about the world around us and are able to collate information that, even 20 years ago, would have been much more difficult to find.” 

By having access to a vast trove of information, we obtain a richer understanding of the subjects at hand and students are granted the opportunity to examine a wider variety of perspectives on any given topic. Mr. Geoff Park ’80 supports this view, saying “we can find articles about any issues or topics from around the world. When I used to teach geopolitics and discuss Israel, I could access The Jerusalem Post and Al Jazeera, and news sources of different biases from around the world. It enabled a broader perspective.” 

“Technology allows the classroom walls to extend far beyond the confines of a physical space.” – Mr. Chris Gordon. 

The variety in which materials can be shared is useful in relaying specialized information “The access to online videos and simulations is wonderful in clarifying scientific concepts,” says Ms. Karen Oude-Reimerink. This helps to inform and assist students in forming their own unique perspectives. 

Richard Culatta, CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education, has weighed in on the impact technology is having in the classroom and emphasizes it’s value. “We’ve moved from 100 percent of learning materials coming from an out-of-date textbook, to interactive materials and students in remote locations having access to high-quality resources,” Culatta notes. “Technology has enabled learners to explore and learn on their own in ways that were harder to do when the resources all had to come from the teacher. It’s very powerful.”

The challenge that comes into play is evaluating if the information at hand is actually a credible source. How can a student tell if content is written by a competent authority? Mr. Gordon notes, “the ability to analyze and evaluate the source of information is now so much more important, and this can be a struggle.” Students need to learn how to be thoughtful consumers of digital content and discriminate the reliability and accuracy of this. 

This has been one of the new research skills stemming from our digital world. Students are now taught what to look for during the research phase of a project and are educated on both primary and secondary types of research. Through the McLaughlin Resource Centre and the Matthews Library, students have access to countless resources and can connect to the infinite information found on the web. Through required citing, faculty members are able to confirm that students are searching for evidence in the right place and getting the most out of their online practices. 

Technology:

Gone are the days of the computer lab or the one-computer classroom. The growth of technology in schools has influenced the way teachers must approach their lesson plans.

“Information technology is a great asset to education, but it is equally important that the teacher relays not only curricular content, but also demonstrates how to best navigate their systems, so that students will be more successful with the course at hand,” says Mr. Gordon. 

Mac Integration at Ridley brought about the most significant change in how students absorb the topics at hand, the way they conduct their educational activities and the way they communicate with one another. The Mac Integration Programme began at Ridley in 1998, where all faculty received school-owned laptops. Upper School students followed shortly after, with the laptop rollout beginning in September 1999. Over the years, classrooms went from having dial-up and Ethernet to wireless connections.  

“Mac Integration and the use of smart projectors has enabled us to create bespoke lessons and class note sets for each course and to provide students with a collection of materials for their learning support that is much more robust than ever before,” exclaims Ms. Rachael Scott (Department of Mathematics).

Fifteen years ago, classrooms were first outfitted with Smartboards — the go-to technology for interactive learning. Today, all classrooms are housed with Epson Smart Projectors that eliminate the need for a dedicated white board. Currently, Ridley is in the midst of adding Apple TV’s to all classrooms, allowing teachers and students a seamless way to collaboratively share and display information from their laptops without the need for cables.

Another great advance in technology and communication has been the implementation of TigerNet. First introduced in 2005, TigerNet is Ridley’s student information system that gives teachers the ability to record grades and add comments, share course assignments, tests and class notes, assign deadlines, receive assignments through a Dropbox feature and much more. Since the inception of TigerNet, the sharing and transparency of information across all roles have been game-changing. 

With the implementation of new technology, there is always the possibility for some challenges to come into play. One of the biggest challenges at hand is the opportunity for distraction. “Even the most dynamic lesson is hard pressed to compete with an online conversation with a friend, a game, a movie etc. and while teachers try to stay on top of that, if you need your laptop for that lesson, and you can’t see all the screens at once, it is impossible to prevent misuse” says Mr. Park. There have always been avenues for distraction throughout the history of teaching, the laptop is just another vehicle for this. Adaptability, innovation and an open mind is key to successfully integrating technology into the classroom and maintaining a strong student-teacher relationship.

“My teaching continues to grow and change, as does that of my colleagues,” says Ms. Scott. “We are constantly learning different ways of introducing material to students and ways of helping the students to develop learning skills that will enable them to learn anything of interest to them in the future. This is the exciting change.”

Technology is not meant to replace the teacher but rather, creates a more flexible learning environment that breeds innovation and enriches the classroom, resulting in a more collaborative learning milieu. Today’s students have never experienced a world without the infusion of technology. By embracing this new digital landscape, we are preparing students for the globally-connected world of tomorrow.

TransfORming Our Globe – Jeanette Stock ’09

For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe blog series, we’re sharing the story of alumna, Jeanette Stock ’09, who is not only taking the tech industry by storm but also paving the way for a more inclusive and diverse tech landscape.

Jeanette grew up hearing stories from family members who attended the school before her and in 2006, she was delighted to learn the news that she too would become a Tiger.

The Ridley lifestyle was the perfect fit for Jeanette, who didn’t have to choose between music or biology, sports or activities – she could do it all. She was able to explore her many interests, strengthen her academic proficiency and learn invaluable skills (beyond the classroom) that would carry over to her post-secondary career.

  

“My time at Ridley taught me not to take myself so seriously (something I still struggle to do). Having friends who taught me to see fun in almost everything (I’m looking at you, Charlotte Macdonald) helps keep me from working too hard, or becoming boring (because really, there’s no worse fate).”                                    – Jeanette Stock ’09

Jeanette gained skills to help her stay motivated and driven and was taught the power of community, leaving Ridley with strong foundation upon which she could build her career.

Jeanette continued her education at Queen’s University, studying Life Sciences and graduating with a degree in English Literature. She spent a semester abroad, studying Chinese history and global development in Shanghai. Beyond her academic career, Jeanette volunteered as an Advanced Medical First Responder and assisted in the launch of a health education programme in Kenya over the course of two summers. Upon graduating – with a distinguished resumé at hand – Jeanette began to work for Jack.org; a charity that was started after the loss of a fellow graduate.

Her path was winding, yet Jeanette’s vast experiences were able to help her discover what she sought in a career. When she was confident in the direction she wanted to move in, Jeanette tapped into Ridley’s vast network of alumni and reconnected with Old Ridleians, such as Anna Mackenzie ’07. Jeanette was able to gather invaluable advice, that helped her navigate her way into the tech industry and uncover where she wanted to be within an organization. She leaned on the guidance of Venture for Canada to help kick-start her career and now works for Highline BETA as a New Venture Associate.

Although her repertoire is already filled with evidence of determination and talent, perhaps Jeanette’s biggest achievement has been Venture Out. Venture Out is an initiative launched by Jeanette and her peers in 2016, with the goal of connecting LGBTQA+ people, working in technology, with career and networking opportunities. In 2017, Venture Out held its first conference; welcoming over 450 individuals to Canada’s first conference for LGBTQA+ students and professionals, seeking careers in the tech industry.

Since its launch, Venture Out has hosted nearly 1,000 individuals during events held at major companies such as: Facebook, Twitter, Google and LinkedIn. On the horizon is the second conference, happening March 15th-16th at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto.

“We have speakers coming from coast to coast, and sponsors and partners like Lyft, Airbnb, Shopify, Intelex, Hubba, and RBC will be hosting conversations about LGBTQ+ inclusion at their companies and beyond. It’s not just a lot of fun (though it is that) – it’s also a pretty unique experience to learn about LGBTQA+ experiences in tech and celebrate the community’s contributions to the companies and technologies we interact with every day.” – Jeanette Stock ’09

Jeanette is shaping the landscape of the tech industry; making it a more diverse and inclusive place. As she moves forward, she hopes to have an impact on the future of technology in Canada, through Venture Out and Female Funders (a learning platform and community that empowers women to invest in start-ups). She is also striving to become a tech leader herself.

As she reflects on her time at Ridley and the path that has led her to where she is today, Jeanette has two pieces of advice for Ridleians who are about to embark on their own professional journeys.

1. Reach out to interesting people. Connecting with individuals who have established varying careers can help you discover the best path.

 “It wasn’t until I stopped thinking about what I wanted to be and started thinking about what I wanted to do every day, that I ended up on the path I’m on now.

Taking some strangers for coffee and learning about the ups and downs of their roles would’ve gotten me there faster, and saved me a great deal of soul-searching.” – Jeanette Stock ’09

2. Share your gratitude and appreciation for those who have helped you reach your potential.

“Thank your parents. Seriously.” – Jeanette Stock ’09

 

 

 

TransfORming Our Globe – Jillian Evans ‘06

For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe series, we’re sharing the story of alumna, Jillian Evans ’06, a Toronto-based tech entrepreneur in the media and entertainment space.

Jillian began her Ridley career in 2001 as a Grade 8 student. During her five years on campus, she was a School Prefect, Editor of the Tiger Tribune and a member of the Rowing, Harriers and Golf teams. Jillian credits Ridley’s strong emphasis on developing interpersonal and public speaking skills with her success in careers that have almost exclusively involved networking and negotiation.

 

“Ridley was the best thing that could have happened to a bored and unmotivated twelve-year-old me. My teachers, coaches and friends challenged me to grow as a person every day, and I left with an unshakeable confidence and set of skills that have served me very well in my career.” – Jillian Evans ‘06

After Ridley, Jillian went on to do a gap year at Marlborough College in England as an English Speaking Union Scholar. She then returned to Canada to pursue her BAH in Political Studies at Queen’s University, where she served as President of the Arts & Science Undergraduate Society and represented the interests of over 12,000 students. Upon graduating, she headed to London to complete her M.Sc. in Political Communication at the London School of Economics, and worked in the office of a Cabinet Minister in the UK Parliament.

Having completed her Masters, Jillian moved to Washington, DC to pursue an internship in Public Affairs at the Embassy of Canada, working mainly on the educational outreach and think-tank liaison files. She also completed her U.S. Private Pilot’s Licence and Restricted Airspace designation, and once had to maneuver around Air Force One in midair!

Returning home to Toronto in 2013, she decided to pursue a career as a lobbyist at the provincial level, tackling files from special needs funding to telecom and everything in between. While she found the work both fascinating and rewarding, she had begun to pursue a side project that would soon require her full attention.

In March 2015, along with a couple of friends, Jillian founded PETE, a second-screen experience for entertainment television. Best described as “fantasy sports for reality TV,” PETE offers a comprehensive fantasy, content and engagement platform for fans of over 20 reality shows and four award shows, including The Bachelor, Survivor, Big Brother, The Oscars and The Grammys. With 20,000 users so far, PETE also offers brands and sponsors the opportunity to reach targeted, engaged audiences. As a company, PETE has raised $750,000 in seed funding and counts seven Old Ridleians (and two past parents) among its investors.

“A lot of people – even in the tech establishment – thought we were crazy. If you believe in your idea, get out there and make it happen. The worst that can happen is it doesn’t work out, you learn an absolute ton, and you nail it the next time. So many decisions are driven by the fear of failure – don’t let yourself fall into that trap, and keep taking big risks!” – Jillian Evans ‘06

As the media landscape evolves over the next several years, Jillian believes the balance will shift from one-way consumption to two-way interactivity, where consumers become active participants. She hopes PETE can play a role in this process by working with media companies to better engage viewers, and by pushing the envelope on what’s possible for fans with real-time interaction. She strongly encourages young Ridleians interested in media and/or tech to pursue it – and the more outside-the-box the idea or career path, the better.


TransfORming Our Globe is a blog series where we share the exciting stories of alumni who are leading flourishing lives and changing the world. It is important to Ridley College to support our alumni and share the stories of Old Ridleians, who discovered their passion and found success and happiness down the path of their choosing.

 Do you know of any classmates that are living flourishing lives or transforming our globe? Email any suggestions for the TransfORming Our Globe blog series to development@ridleycollege.com

TransfORming Our Globe – Ransom Hawley ‘04

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016_0539 - Version 2For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe series, we’re sharing the story of alumnus, Ransom Hawley ‘04, who forged
his own path to success with his app, Caddle, that allows users to earn money by engaging with the brands they use on a daily basis.

Ransom began Grade 7 at Ridley in 1998 and quickly involved himself in all of the facets of the school available to the student body. While here, he played football, basketball, and rugby. He credits Ridley with providing him with an excellent network with which he was able to establish himself professionally upon graduating. Additionally, Ransom’s strong work ethic was developed at Ridley, which he says helps tremendously with the long hours and determination his company employs on a daily basis.

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After graduating from Ridley, Ransom initially attended St. Francis Xavier University and studied marine biology. His love for scuba diving and interest in the subject matter led him to believe it would be a good fit. However, after enrolling in several business electives, he quickly realized there was another career path for him. He transferred to the University of Western Ontario and completed the Honors Business Administration program at the Ivey School of Business. Having completed his programme, Ransom began work at SC Johnson (SCJ) in their sales and marketing department.

He worked with several coupon apps while at SCJ and came up with the idea for Caddle when he began to wonder if these apps could incorporate more features – both for the consumer and for the company advertising. After seven years at SC Johnson, during which he had moved back to St. Catharines, Ransom gave himself a deadline. He had been developing his idea for Caddle for two years and while on a flight back from a business trip in April of 2015, a chance encounter with the co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak, finally tipped the scales. Ransom soon left his job at SC Johnson to pursue Caddle. Not only was Ransom spurred on by Wozniak’s advice, but he also motivated by several other factors, including potentially regretting not seizing this opportunity and ensuring a feeling of pride when looking back on what he’s done.

Caddle has essentially taken coupons and interactive advertising digital and put it at the fingertips of consumers. Caddle allows brands to capture more of the total dollar share they spend on marketing. Meant to fill an unproductive amount of time with a productive action, users can log in to the app and take a survey, watch an ad, leave a review, or simply provide a picture of a receipt – and earn money doing so. Caddle’s clients – among them, giants such as Pepsico and General Mills – are able to engage and educate customers while deriving instant consumer insights that gather real-time feedback; a valuable currency to any brand. Caddle earns money on processing fees, as well as by charging clients every time a user interacts with their specific brand. No half measures either; users have to complete the entire survey or watch the whole video to get their money.

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In addition to recently earning a Canadian Grocer Generation Next Award, Caddle was also on CBC’s popular entrepreneurial TV show Dragons’ Den. This appearance on a national television show provided significant exposure, spurred growth and initiated a spike in users of the app. Ultimately, the ‘Dragons’ thought it was an excellent idea, with Dan Warner, co-founder of a similar couponing platform ‘SnapSaves’, coming on board as a consultant for Caddle.

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Ransom would like to see Caddle become a platform that changes the way customers interact with brands. As an entrepreneur, he enjoys creating and operating something he can call his own. In addition to being a local company (Ransom still lives in St. Catharines) and partnering with many local businesses, Caddle also donates 10 percent of their pre-tax profit to Canadian charities.

Ransom’s advice to Ridleans considering an idea or thinking about taking the leap into entrepreneurship? “If you have an idea, take it to your local innovation hub. They will be an incredible resource and help determine if your idea is feasible.” Ransom used Innovate Niagara a great deal with looking for developers, applying for grants, and gathering constructive feedback regarding Caddle. Ransom reminds us that everyone has ideas and it doesn’t serve you well to just keep thinking about them – act on them. He encourages Ridleans to take calculated risks, “It’s only money. You will make more of it.” Finally, he says “make your future self proud of you.”


TransfORming Our Globe is a blog series where we share the exciting stories of alumni who are leading flourishing lives and changing the world. It is important to Ridley College to support our alumni and share the stories of Old Ridleians, who discovered their passion and found success and happiness down the path of their choosing. 

Do you know of any classmates that are living flourishing lives or transforming our globe? Email any suggestions for the TransfORming Our Globe blog series to development@ridleycollege.com.

 

Adding Dimension to Ridley’s Digital Learning Studio

Ensuring that our students learn and grow in an exemplary environment is a part of our vision at Ridley College. It is of utmost importance for us to provide our students with access to cutting-edge technology and rich learning experiences, whenever possible.

Thanks to our generous donors, we were recently able to fulfill this promise by introducing three 3D printers to our Digital Learning Studio! This state-of-the-art rapid prototyping device has been revolutionizing the way the world creates and what better way to teach modern technology then with hands on experience.

Last year, Mr. Giles Campbell, Co-ordinator of Design and Technology, carefully researched which model of 3D printer would best suit our students’ needs ­­– one that would be easy and safe to use, while providing high quality results. As school let out for summer, Mr. Campbell was still undecided on which model to select, until a student submitted a project he had completed using the Ultimaker² 3D printer. It soon became clear that this brand of rapid prototyping device would provide Ridleains with the best features to explore three dimensions.

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Ultimaker² printers work in a very interesting way – using high heat and fused filament to create clean and accurate 3D models of any design that is input into the system. Our Ultimaker² 3D printers, which arrived over the summer, temporarily reside in the Design Technology classroom, while a dedicated lab is established for them.

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Students have just begun their term project that utilizes the 3D printer’s capabilities to create iPhone speakers that amplify sound without electricity. They’ve begun designing their projects on paper; filling their sketchbooks with ideas and concepts.

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Next, they will bring their final design to life on the computer screen before sending them to be printed on the new printers.