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 Jennifer. Jennifer Tedman-Jones is the Director of Business Development at Mitacs. When she’s not connecting awesome people in the community, you’ll find Jennifer out paddleboarding or checking off items on her Okanagan summer bucket list.
Where are you from?
I’m originally from Montreal, but I got bitten by the science bug. I spent 2 years in Guelph doing a master’s in plant agriculture, then set off to the UK to get a Ph.D. I came back to London, Ontario, and worked for Agriculture Canada before shifting into business, working for Roche Diagnostics. You never know what opportunities are waiting to draw your enthusiasm.
Where do you work in the Okanagan?
I’m honoured to hold a joint position between UBCO and Mitacs. Though I have a desk at the university, if I’m doing my job, I’m not usually there—I’m out in the community. Now circumstances have changed and we’re all online, and I’ve noticed incredible ways people have adapted in trying to make the shift as seamless as possible. I’ve also noticed how people are more compassionate and mindful about how they communicate.
What do you do there?
I find smart, cool people in business who are trying to push the boundaries and connect them with smart, cool people in post-secondary institutions who are trying to also push the boundaries. It’s all about identifying overlapping goals, making the introduction, and then giving them money. My job has a built-in filter for awesomeness.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
The facilitation is the part that I enjoy the most. Quite often, businesses and academics will have overlapping interests but they have different ways of approaching it. That’s the big opportunity but it’s also the big challenge. It’s my job to help everyone get on the same page so that they can get the most out of the connection. It’s fun to attend the meetings as projects progress and seeing people’s faces light up as the partnerships develop.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
Keep showing up. That looks different now. It means showing up at virtual events, turning your camera on, asking questions, following along, getting in front of people and having conversations. It opens up new possibilities and reveals different opportunities you may not have known about.
How were you first introduced to the OKGNtech community?
The first shining face I met was Brea. Her positivity reverberates through her and her team, inspiring the community to ask how they can help. I’ve been crashing Accelerate Okanagan events ever since. Between the community and AO, there’s a culture of tight-knit banding together that exists.
What’s something that stood out to you about the community?
When I first arrived in the Okanagan, people were telling me how much everything has changed over the past 10 years. Now, 7 years later, I find myself saying the same thing. We are going through an incredibly rapid evolution. If we can come together to understand one another, continuing the culture of tight-knit collaboration, there is an opportunity for the Okanagan to be a community that is the envy of the world. That’s going to take mindfulness. If we aren’t seeking each other out, then we’ll be missing out.
Is there something you want to be remembered for?
I’ve been reading the Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Montgomery with my daughter, and there is a quote saying, “I’d like to add some beauty to life. [To bring someone] a little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn’t been born.” That’s something I want. I’d like to bring a moment of joy, even a quiet one, that people can happily reflect on.