Being a leader who creates a positive environment, one that helps break down barriers, is a core belief of Igloo Software vice president of technology Julie Forsythe.
A self-proclaimed nerd, Forsythe’s passion for her industry, employer – Kitchener, Ont.-based cloud software firm Igloo Software – and employees shone through during an appearance earlier this month as part of the women in business leadership panel at Microsoft Inspire, where she discussed the benefits of using power for good.
“Typically when a person gains more power they have less capacity for empathy,” she told IT World Canada. “As a person who cares deeply about my accountability, engagement and the well-being of people in my organization, this serves as a good reminder to ensure that I’m in control of my empathy and how power impacts my actions.”
Forsythe has spent more than 20 years in the IT industry, starting in the engineering stream where she fell in love with the idea of creatively solving problems, but when the opportunity to move into a leadership role presented itself she jumped at the chance to solve different types of problems.
“I get a real thrill out of delivering quality and efficiency with the way that people deliver their work. So my contribution to how that relates to driving company growth and value, is just totally my jam,” Forsythe told IT World Canada.
During her appearance at Inspire, Forsythe also said she places a great deal of emphasis on respect.
“I believe that respect is something you earn; it’s a gift that shouldn’t be given away too freely,” she said. “Earn the respect of the people in your organization and it allows leaders to go further to ensure that people in their company are enabled for success.”
“I don’t see myself as a female leader, I just honestly see myself as a leader.”
As Igloo’s vice president of technology, Forsythe is responsible for leading product development, and said she recently added the cloud hosting team to her portfolio as well.
Forsythe said she is proud to be a part of Igloo’s work, and feels the culture she tries to create is having a positive impact on people and productivity.
She first joined Igloo in 2016 as engineering director, and attributes her quick rise to working with “a lot of really smart people,” including mentors who encouraged her work and provided support.
Women in Technology
But when asked how she feels about being a female leader in an industry dominated by men, she said she doesn’t define herself by her gender.
“I don’t see myself as a female leader, I just honestly see myself as a leader,” she told IT World Canada, “I’m a firm believer that we should hire the right people for the job, regardless of their gender, culture, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or the colour of their skin.”
She feels that building an inclusive work culture helps businesses create better products simply because it is coming from a more diverse group of people.
During her appearance at Inspire, Forsythe said she noticed and was impressed by was the number of women and minorities in senior leadership positions at Microsoft.
“To hear them talk about their journey, what has inspired them and how they manage being a minority in that space was really inspiring,” she said.
Forsythe said that even though she doesn’t allow her gender to define her, she is proud to be a minority in the industry industry, helping to break down barriers and roadblocks with her leadership style.
“I am incredibly passionate about human leadership,” she said. “I very much value the attributes and skills that come with really great human leadership and it was a real treat on the panel to talk about how respect and human leadership can work together.”