A 25-year tech career
While deciding whether to attend law school, Lisa Sutherland took a job at a Rogers call centre. Instead of ending up in a courtroom, her first role was helping the information technology department with a project’s data migration. This start launched what is now a 25-year tech career. Sutherland has gone from the call centre to a software testing engineer and becoming Rogers’ first business system analyst. Most recently, she has stepped into a senior director role leading a team of digital experts. Along the way, she also earned her Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) from DeGroote — a credential Sutherland says enhances her ability to meet customers’ needs.
The EMBA program provided me with the foundational elements necessary to enhance my skills in business. It then layered on how to anticipate, prepare, and question technology and innovation’s influence on how to run businesses. It is important for a company to know how to engage with people in 2020 and beyond.
Growing up in tech culture at Rogers, Sutherland says hearing stories about women leaders always fascinate her. She admired not only what they did but how they managed to achieve success without compromising who they were. This mentorship was one of the reasons Sutherland began advocating for women in tech when she herself became a leader. In her senior position, she also wants to understand better what was driving the business to make certain decisions based on priorities and opportunities.
“In my roles, I always had the opportunity to help shape and contribute to those decisions but never was accountable,” she says. “I think any leader who wants to be successful in an organization’s evolution must have strong business acumen. You need to understand the technology that will enable you to get there. I hope my accreditation shows my commitment to lead in areas where business and technology intersect. I can bring a new perspective on delivering on strategy into the future.”
The future is digital
Halfway through the EMBA program, from which she graduated in September, Sutherland became senior director Digital Connected Home Product & Channel. It’s a position that heavily partners technology with business and determines how digital will help shape the future at Rogers. During her role transition, she says the EMBA’s incorporation of case studies offered a helpful perspective. These case studies showcased an organization’s success and failures while examining how to incorporate best practices and innovation. It was also helpful to work on an all-woman team during one of the program modules.
“That experience taught me no matter how successful, accomplished, and motivated we are as women, we all face obstacles in our careers. Whether it is a lack of confidence, having our values challenged, or not being given the same opportunities as our male counterparts,” she says. “The one thing we all have in common is that none of us had shied away from our responsibilities to make a change for the next generation of women. That alone is what makes us great leaders, changemakers, and role models.”