This podcast features Monique Allen, the EVP of Data and Technology for OMERS (Ontario Municipal Employee Retirement System), one of Canada’s largest pension plans with roughly 500,000 members in Ontario and managing over 100 billion dollars in net assets.

Growing up and attending high school in Kitchener, Ontario, it was safe to say that Monique’s interests were vast and a career in technology was not on her radar. After initially pursuing a post-secondary career in medicine with the University of Waterloo, Monique decided to change direction and started taking business courses in her 4th year of university. It wasn’t until after graduation and her first job working for a life insurance company that she realized she wanted to pursue a career in tech.

She shares with us her journey in going back to school and entering the tech workforce and admits looking back that she may have been naïve when it came to recognizing bias and gender bias in tech.

“I wouldn’t say that at the time I knew I was overcoming those challenges.” Monique said. ” I looked for the numbers and I thought that if I could see women, than that wasn’t the big problem that everybody thought it was”

It wasn’t until the past few years that she really started to recognize bias as an issue and started conducting research of her own on the topic. She shares her observations about what she has learned and ways that we can adjust our approach to dealing with this challenge.

“Bias and values are two different things – you can have very strong values that promote inclusivity and diversity and still carry bias.”

Monique has recently been published in “The Collective Wisdom of High Performing Women” that profiles over 70 women that have participated in The Judy Project, a leadership forum for women, that share compelling, first-person stories. They talk about ambition, courage, and the hard choices they’ve made to manage personal and professional lives and offer advice to young women about how they can move up in organizations while remaining true to themselves and to their families.