Women in Tech: Laura Mindorff
10 min read
Today, being International Women’s Day is no better day to celebrate Laura Mindorff, our COO, or as we like to call her – our Culture Queen. Laura has been involved in the tech industry for over 15 years. Laura’s role as COO is outside the scope of what has traditionally been defined as a tech position, but her involvement with the tech industry and our SaaS company here at Wicket is beyond impactful.
Questions and Answers
When did you begin taking an interest in technology?
I’ve always loved anything design related. For me, technology had the means to see into creativity. I remember playing around with Corel Draw back in the day when we got our first family computer at home in the ’90s. I remember being so happy because I could spruce up my homework assignments and presentations with clipart, using a font other than Times New Roman.
What was your first significant memory with technology?
Probably buying my very first iMac in 1999 for college. I was pretty proud of myself. I’d invested in my first major piece of technology and boy, was it ever pretty! It was the original iMac, the one that was shaped like a big bubble that came in fruit colours. Although, many colour options, with my eye on modern design I bought the all white iMac to match my all white desk – this is when my love affair with Apple truly began.
When you were growing up did you think you’d be working in the tech industry today?
No way, never. I would dream of working in fashion or interior design. I was always interested in people, and aesthetically appealing things. Questions like, what motivates people to want to do their best work? What type of space or environment would inspire people and make them feel happy? Those were the things I cared about. Little did I realize, technology actually has a big impact on answering those questions. When I realized what motivated me, I knew I could apply my passion for people, design, and interest in tech somewhere!
Every industry needs those questions answered – whether it be in the tech industry, fashion, or corporate design.
Did you go to post-secondary education with a study related to technology?
Directly related, no. I studied Business Marketing at Algonquin College and Communications at the University of Ottawa. The one thing I absolutely love about Marketing and Communications is, that there is no limit to the industry. Every industry needs marketing, and it’s safe to say the same for technology. What’s great about marketing in tech is that you can further not only your own professional skills but impact the industry as a whole with the right messaging and channels. Working with Wicket, as COO, taught me that.
If not, how what was your personal learning journey around technology?
For me, it was always learning on the job. I’m not a software engineer, a web developer or a graphic designer, instead, I’ve always been in positions where I’m managing or working with a team of highly skilled individuals. I am deeply inspired by what they do every day.
“You don’t need to be a techy, you just need to respect the hell out of your colleagues who are.”
The technology that I use to do my job is more around software tools and processes to create operational efficiencies.
How often do you take additional courses related to technology?
The courses I’ve taken are more related to business leadership and human resources. When working in the tech industry, it’s not all tech all the time. It’s still important to foster an environment focussed on people and communication – those are my areas of interest.
When did you first start working in the tech industry?
When I graduated from University, my first job was as a Media Buyer at an agency. This job was fascinating to me because I got to work in the middle of publication vendors, creative agencies, and clients. Vendors would present new and innovative ways, to our clients, identifying how they could spend their advertising dollars. The creative agencies would design the ads, and I would plan the media campaigns – both for print and online.
As years went on, it became more and more clear that the future with advertising was leaning towards digital ads. It’s all about the online impressions and click-throughs.
When I left the media buying world, I went over to the creative agency side of things, and never really looked back. I have spent the last 15 years working alongside graphic designers, UX researchers, web developers, software engineers, and project managers, where our collective goal has been to design and build aesthetically appealing, functional, user-friendly websites (Industrial) and software (Wicket) for our clients.
How intricate is technology to your day-to-day life?
My day can vastly vary, and often does when co-running two companies, managing two teams, and being the point-of-contact for clients relations. Technology is so intricate to our operations. Whether it be overviewing web design changes in WordPress, using Grammarly in correspondence with clients, or diving into a project knee deep with our developers. It’s so important to be flexible, always ready to learn new skills or utilize new technology on-the-spot.
What makes anything a true success is stepping back, and asking the right questions – taking a second to humanize technology.
Do you have any involvement outside of work, within the tech industry? If so, how did you get involved and why?
I recently volunteered my time with a charitable organization in Ottawa called iSisters. Their mission is to develop and deliver technology programs. In collaboration with their community partners, the program builds awareness around various opportunities to connect women with technology, through mentorship.
My life outside of work mainly consists of my family. While I personally spend most of my spare time involved in things outside of the tech industry, my husband and I have 5 kids and one of them is very focussed on technology, wanting to make this his career. He is 13-years old and recently bought all the pieces to assemble his own computer. He’s always up to something tech related, whether it be building his own websites or updating us on all the latest and greatest tech that exists or will exist in the future.
What was the best piece of advice you ever received?
One piece of advice that always sticks out for me was given to me by one of my mentors and leadership coach, Janice McDonald. When we were talking about my anxiety around always trying to make everyone happy, specifically around giving presentations to groups of people, she said, “you’ll never get the whole room.”
No matter how hard you try to please everyone and get everyone on your side, it’s typically impossible. There will always be people in doubt, someone having a bad day, or someone who was barely paying attention, to begin with. Don’t set yourself up for failure by thinking you’ll get the whole room on your side because you won’t. That is not a reflection on you, but a reflection on them, and that’s ok.
What advice would you give another woman, interested in entering the tech industry?
You don’t have to have a technical background to work in the tech industry, I certainly don’t. The tech industry needs women from every interest and background, including those that are interested in humans.
Laura’s role as Chief Operations Officer (COO) is split between two companies, Wicket and Industrial, a digital agency. Both teams share office space, executives, and in the past, teammates! Even with her time split, running two thriving business’, Laura has created something truly magical – our culture, here at Wicket (and Industrial).