A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support, and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.
Our community is strong and growing with record speed and maintaining a connection through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic, we’ve got a plan.
Introducing, We are #OKGNtech. A showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters, and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth, and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.
Meet Aidan. Aidan Cole is a Professor at Okanagan College, Marketing Quarterback for Valid Manufacturing, and DER3 Program Advisor at Accelerate Okanagan. When she’s not sharing impactful resources with the community, you’ll find Aidan spending time with her three young sons and husband, Cayley.
How did you first get involved in tech?
Out of college, I got a job as a Marketing and Sales Coordinator for a company called Total Care Technology. I didn’t have a lot of experience so there wasn’t a lot of money or hours involved. I was unemployed so I accepted under the pretense that I would work my butt off to increase those numbers by the end of my probation period. After those 3 months, they moved me into a full-time position with a raise.
Where do you work in the Okanagan?
I work for Okanagan College as a part-time professor in the business program, focusing on marketing and management. My second job is as a “marketing quarterback” for a company called Valid Manufacturing out of Salmon Arm, which builds a whole range of technical products. Finally, I work for Accelerate Okanagan as the Program Advisor for the DER3 (Digital Economy: Rapid Response and Resiliency) program, an initiative that tries to help small businesses get online or get more efficient online to help their business.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
What I love about all three jobs is that they allow me to connect people to things they may not have otherwise known about. I get to tell people about all the great tech opportunities in the Okanagan, I get to share experiences I’ve had in the community with my students at the College, I get to help a locally-started company reach a wider audience, and I get to work with incredible people executing on incredible ideas.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
If you’ve met someone through your network, reach back out to them. You don’t need to be looking for anything, but making a genuine comment about your interaction can leave a big impact. If someone is taking the initiative to follow-up and they are generally eager to learn, that can be the sign of a really great employee.
What do you enjoy about the OKGNtech community?
The friendships that you make—either you’ve made working in tech or friends who you’ve pulled along with you. Everybody I’ve ever met in the tech industry has always been open to chatting. There are a lot of friendships that you can make while working with people that can turn into lifelong relationships.
Do you think there is anything missing from the community here?
I would love to see more women in tech. I have seen some changes but it’s still not where it should be. We need to see more women in leadership roles that others can aspire to be like. This has been a big year for learning and becoming woke—people don’t necessarily realize their blindsides. I want everyone to encourage and lift each other up, celebrating diversity in our tech community.
Who inspires you?
One person is my husband Cayley—he’s smart and very passionate about what he does. He’s one of those people who gets interested in a lot of different topics. Also, my parents. My mom—who passed away when I was 26—because, now that I’m a parent, I truly understand how hard she worked managing her own business and raising three kids. And my dad, who was playing hockey 4 times a week before COVID hit. He is still really active and I just hope that I can have that too when I’m his age.
What is something that has surprised you in the community?
I’ve been thinking a lot about accessibility to computers and the internet. For example, this spring when Okanagan College jumped online in wake of the pandemic, I realized that people just don’t have access to technology. When computer labs with high-speed internet access (colleges, schools, libraries) closed, people were left in the dark. How can you work without reliable internet? How do you network or get a job when you share a computer with 5 other people? As technology becomes more ubiquitous in society, we need to ensure that everyone can get online and access technology.