I moved from San Francisco to Ottawa to pursue a tech career. Yes, you read that right.
I grew up north of Toronto, but my curiosity took me all over North America. I moved to Calgaryat the height of the oil boom in Alberta. I chased the energy of Barack Obama’s election and moved to Washington, DC, in 2008. In 2012, I decided to jump into tech—no surprise that this decision took me to Silicon Valley. I joined Shopify to lead their app developer program from San Francisco in 2014.
For four years, I commuted to Shopify’s Ottawa headquarters each month. Ottawa had a reputation for being a sleepy government town, yet each time I visited, I spotted interesting businesses being opened up throughout the city, new communities being built, the new Ottawa Art Gallery opening its doors to contemporary artists. I began to see the city shift because of people taking risks—the exact type of risks necessary for innovation.
Tech has long been part of Ottawa’s identity, but there’s something electric about the state of entrepreneurship in Ottawa right now. Our rich history of semiconductor innovation is transforming into a vibrant culture of diverse business creation. And so when I was asked to move to Ottawa to take on a new role at Shopify, I said yes, because I recognized the opportunity ahead of this city. More entrepreneurs are taking risks and seeing rewards; more parents are encouraging their kids to work for startups; more companies like Shopify are flourishing. These shifts are fueling our city.
I’m often told that Shopify is a cornerstone to Ottawa’s tech narrative. This makes me proud, but I also think we need to embrace investment and risk-taking, while producing healthy competition to spur us forward.
If we want to build an innovative city, we each need to do our part to support entrepreneurship.
We need to support those new businesses and galleries, buy from local stores, and vote with our dollars to create opportunities for more local successes. I followed my curiosity to Ottawa because I believe the story of its technology and innovation has not yet been written. I’m here to help write it, and I hope you will, too.