As Global Technical Officer, I’m responsible for the technology strategy that advances GCA’s development and deployment of global solutions. The key thing that brought me to GCA is working with technology in the interest of making the Internet better for everyone. I’ve worked in both for and non-profits, and I can’t get excited about building widgets. The fact that GCA’s mission is global and in a not-for-profit context is appealing to me.
For all of my professional career, I’ve been working on technology for the Internet and I was the first Chief Internet Technology Officer (CITO) at the Internet Society, so that was a good experience to work with the entities that are deploying the Internet, to try to get them to do the Internet. The Internet Society had existed for about 15 years before I joined, and had gone through some transformations. They were at a point of expansion and I had worked for a number of years with the CEO of Internet Society on one of the task forces, so the timing was right as I was ready to leave my for-profit position. I sat down with the CEO and said you really need someone who’s going to lead your technology efforts. It was an interesting process, going from starting from nothing to hiring people who would shape technology ideas, but not actually build things themselves. You need the people who can look but not touch, and that can be challenging.
In terms of changes I’ve seen over the course of my career, I was doing my university degrees in the late ‘80s-early ‘90s when hypertext was a hot research topic. It was all about -how will we do buttons and links and things. Whole conferences were dedicated to hypertext, and one of the major themes was – how will we ever get enough money to pay for getting paper publications into hypertext online format. Then, along came the World Wide Web and bam- the whole thing was done! It was exciting to me, because it spoke to the fact that if you have the right answer and empower individuals, you can get a much bigger outcome than if you try to do things top down. Collaboration is key!
I like that GCA is mission driven and supporting the mission is the most important thing. And I like that we are all remote. I’ve worked remotely, and in offices, and it never works unless it’s woven right into the culture, which it is here.
Where is your favorite place in the world?
I know a place, on an island in the Bay of Fundy, that has the most awesome chocolate pecan pie. We have spent most of our summers on that island for the last 20 years. One year, as we headed to the island, musing about what meals we looked forward to, I thought particularly about that chocolate pecan pie… and, lo, it appeared on the menu that week! And every July since :-) .
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
I am an admitted fibre-holic. It started with knitting, and expanded to weaving and spinning my own yarn from fibre — wool straight off a sheep! I like the puzzle of making something useful — sweaters, socks, kitchen towels, and so on.