Working in the information and digital technologies sector is one of the most rewarding career opportunities I’ve had so far. Our sector welcomes and requires creators, problem solvers, critical thinkers, relationship builders, and tinkerers alike. No longer is digital technology an insular concept; it has been incorporated into everything we do—our healthcare, sports, education, transportation, and much more. With such breadth of skills required in such a range of sectors and industries, I ask: How can we thrive, or even survive, without diversity?
Equity, diversity, and inclusion are big parts of who I am. When I come across any statistics or experiences that highlight the underrepresentation of very capable individuals in our society or in a particular sector, it fuels my passion and drive to change those numbers and disrupt the status quo. Since joining Digital Nova Scotia more than five years ago, we have launched women’s leadership programs, provided bursary spots for our Digital Discovery Camp to welcome youth from all backgrounds, and hosted roundtable discussions with Nova Scotian employers to introduce better practices in pay equity, as well as recruitment and retention policies. While all of our initiatives have demonstrated impact, one thing we do magnifies everything: We speak out.
Through Digital Nova Scotia’s Digital Diversity Awards, we provide a platform to celebrate women leaders and diversity champions in our sector, and highlight their impact on our digital economy. By increasing the profile of women working in tech, or any underrepresented groups, we are sending a message that it is possible: “If you can see her, you can be her.” The sky’s the limit when it comes to a career in the tech sector, and neither gender nor ethnicity should stand in the way. Diversity brings outstanding benefits to any sector, economy, and society!
How can we be more inclusive? It’s simple:
We need the courage to stand up for ourselves, be decisively bold, challenge false or dated perceptions, and help create the diverse and inclusive culture that we deserve.
As a leader, I am frequently asked to contribute to articles, speak on panels, present keynotes, and be interviewed. With each interaction and opportunity, my hope is that at least one person takes away the message that they can do or be anything they wish. Leaders should lead by example, drive change, motivate others, and solve challenges regardless of their gender, ethnicity, age, or title.
I’ve worked in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) for most of my career, and I’ve met remarkable people with different backgrounds and experiences, and from different countries and upbringings, along the way. Each one brings something special—a new perspective, view, or approach. The majority of immigrant women in tech and business I’ve had the great fortune to engage with are not only highly educated and sophisticated, but assertive, adaptable, driven, resilient, ambitious, and results-focused. If you think about it, immigrating to one country—or numerous countries—in itself requires all of the above qualities!
By leveraging the strengths of those around us, be they women, men, immigrants, or Canadians of any background or culture—we are building a diverse culture that will help our province and our entire country thrive.
Your gender and background should not define your story—your impact, drive, and passion should.
Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia, President & CEO of Digital Nova Scotia
With a career spanning five geographic regions, Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia is an award-winning entrepreneur, innovator and TEDx speaker, with more than 20 years of global experience within the information and communications technology (ICT) sector. Originally from Germany, Ulrike speaks six languages, and has held senior executive roles at the headquarters of prominent multinational high-tech corporations, SMEs, and startups, including Intel, Hewlett Packard (Compaq), McAfee, LANNET, RAD Data Communications, Commtouch, CarteNav, and Seaside Wireless Communications.
In recognition of her unprecedented leadership with Digital Nova Scotia and lifelong advocacy for equity, diversity, and inclusion, Ulrike has received numerous awards and has been regularly featured as an inspiring role model for youth, women, and immigrants in STEAM.
In addition to having been recognized for three consecutive years (2015, 2016 & 2017) with the WXN Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award, Ulrike was also honoured with the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Award, the WCT “Wavemaker” Leadership Excellence Award, the Atlantic Business Magazine Top 50 CEO Award, and the Progress Women of Excellence Award. Ulrike was named a Top 40 Change-Maker in Canada by Canadian Living, was highlighted in April 2017 by hEr VOLUTION as one of 150 Canadian female leaders in STEAM, and featured in the book Canada 150 Women: Conversations With Leaders, Champions, and Luminaries. Ulrike was invited to speak in front of a sold-out crowd at TEDxKelowna in June 2017, and was featured in the “Executive Voice Publishing – Best of Canada 150th Anniversary Report” in October 2017.
Ulrike is an elected member of the International Women’s Forum (IWF), and serves on Industry Advisory Boards with the Dalhousie Faculty of Computer Science and the Saint Mary’s University Sobey School of Business. Ulrike is also a board director with the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) based out of Ottawa, and is the first East Coast representative since the Council’s inception in 1992. She also just recently joined the board of directors of Skills Canada Nova Scotia (SCNS).
With degrees in Political Science (Germany), Film and Philology (United States), and the humbling support of Fulbright, Ulrike is the true “A” in STEAM. Upon immigrating to Israel in the 90s, also known as the startup nation, Ulrike transitioned from Film and Philology to Information Technology overnight. She’s never looked back, but still wants to do her Ph.D. one of these days, which she was about to tackle at Rice University (US) prior to moving to Israel.
Married with a son and daughter, Ulrike moved with her husband Michael from Israel to Nova Scotia in 2002, and has called Canada her home ever since.