The Art of Leadership for Women

Jessalynn Tran is the Sales & Marketing Coordinator at Optimus Information

Today, more women are moving up the corporate ladder and breaking glass ceilings. We are raising a generation of girl bosses and have even more available opportunities. However, women in leadership roles will face many challenges in this evolving world that will require them to adapt in order to succeed.

On April 5th, I was fortunate enough to attend The Art of Leadership for Women, an annual one-day conference focusing on the topics and trends most critical to women leaders. The event this year brought together an extraordinary group of influential women consisting of business icons, bestselling authors, and even a Nobel Peace Prize winner. You could feel the energy, excitement, and significance of this event from outside the doors. It felt like something magical was about to take place.

ArtofLeadership-1030x539 The Art of Leadership for Women

The speakers included:

Emily Chang
Anchor & Executive Producer, Bloomberg Technology, Emmy Award Winning Journalist and Bestselling Author

Tiffani Bova
Growth & Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce and Bestselling Author

Laura Gassner Otting
Chief Catalyzing Officer at Limitless Possibility and Author

Dr. Tasha Eurich
Organizational Psychologist, Researcher and New York Times Bestselling Author

Malala Yousafzai
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, International Bestselling Author and Founder of Malala Fund


Here were some of my key takeaways from these inspiring speakers.

Success is directly related to access to opportunity

But, what does access mean and look like?

One historical fact that stood out to me was that women used to dominate the computing and programming industry. Women like Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, and the women of ENIAC were on the leading edge. It was only until much later that the tech industry used personality tests to identify the characteristics that they thought would make a good programmer. This created the stereotype of techies as anti-social male nerds that we now think of. The number of women in computer science declined because they were reframed as individuals who would not excel in this industry as much as their counterparts (despite their prior dominance).

Access to opportunities refers to equal opportunities that are free of biases. However, access to me also means creating a sense of inclusion. Even when women are present, if we don’t see examples of other women in roles that we want, it makes it difficult to imagine ourselves in those roles. There are subtle cultural signals we’re sending that tell women “you don’t belong here” or “you’re not good enough.” For example, the photo used for the first jpeg algorithm was a Playboy centerfold. The use of this photo was later defended by stating that there were no women in the room. Would the choice of this photo have been different if there was a woman in the room? And what message would using this photo send to a woman in the room? What are the long-term societal consequences when we are limiting ourselves to a narrower gender-biased view?


Who gave us our scorecard?

Don’t measure yourself against someone else’s standards of success or happiness.

Although the conference mainly viewed leadership through a female lens, the majority of the information provided was applicable for both men and women.

One gender-neutral idea was having a metaphorical scorecard that we all measure our success and happiness against. For example, there is a lot of pressure to get married and have children. This sends the signal that we unsuccessful if we decided that is not the life that would make us happy. We will never be happy if we are trying to live according to someone else’s scorecards and not our own.

A similarity between all the speakers was that they didn’t all have it all figured out. It was trial and error along the course of their career, and they tossed external scorecards a long time ago. Each step helped them figure out what they wanted to do, what they didn’t want to do, and what their strengths are. For me, I tend to measure myself against the perceived timeline I should follow for my career. Having gone back to school to pursue a different path, I have always felt behind where I “should” be.


Self Awareness

Understanding who we are and how we are seen.

Self aware individuals are typically more successful at work, receive more promotions, communicate better, parent better and maintain happier relationships. Most people think that they are self aware. However, in reality, most people suck at it. This is something that I realized is definitely true for me. I have a difficult time identifying my strengths and limitations, and often feel like I have imposter syndrome.

Studies have shown that women tend to underestimate how others see them. Dr. Tasha Eurich provided practical tools to help improve our self awareness and to use trusted individuals to combat our negative perceptions.

  1. Reflected best self
    Ask a few people who know you well, “What qualities do you most appreciate me as a leader?”
  2. Prove them wrong
    What are you capable of that no one else knows?
  3. Ask what, not why
    Asking “Why?” can put us in an emotional trap feeling like a victim asking “Why is this happening to me?” A better way is to ask “What?” questions that will give you factual growth. For example, ask “What patterns do I see and what can I do differently?”
  4. Loving critics
    Seek honest feedback from someone who has your best interest at heart and wants to see you succeed.


How to Get Women to More Prominent Roles?

Practical advice for any leader.

It’s one thing to read this and make commitments to improving at leadership. But, we don’t want to settle for vague goals. If you are a woman and want to truly excel, here are four pieces of advice for you:

  1. Don’t ask for permission
    Go out and prove them wrong.
  2. Have mentors
    Surround yourself with people who can help you develop your skills.
  3. Know your own strengths and limitations
    Focusing on your strengths will help guide your career and understanding areas you can improve or need help improving.
  4. Being bad at something is an opportunity to improve
    Mistakes are inevitable; but they are opportunities to learn.


My day at the Art of Leadership for Women felt like a day full of “Aha!” moments. Not only did I leave with practical advice that I can apply to my own life, but I left feeling empowered. In addition to the extraordinary women, it was great to see men in attendance as well. The fight for equality and inclusivity needs to include men in the dialogue. Being sent to this conference clearly communicated to me Optimus’ core values and their support of gender equality. When asked what the gender ratio is at Optimus, I was proudly able to say the ratio is 1:1. I am grateful to work for a company that sees my personal potential as a professional and also the importance of being an ambassador of women in leadership.

Connected Intelligence through Exponential Ecosystems — Mobile Future Forward

Connected Intelligence through Exponential Ecosystems

That’s the theme of this year’s Mobile Future Forward gathering in Seattle this October. Visionaries, developers, CEOs of tech firms – essentially, “the best and the brightest” in mobile technology – will be attending, and so will Optimus Information.

“We’re thrilled to be involved in this symposium because we’ll be collaborating with some of the greatest minds that are helping organizations to see future possibilities with mobile applications ” said Ryan O’Connor, Optimus’s Chief Technical Strategist.

This is the symposium’s ninth year.  Time magazine referred to Mobile Future Forward as “one of the most important mobile conferences in the industry”.

The growing popularity of the event is a testament to how quickly mobile technology is changing our world.

In large part, the rapid changes are the result of different technologies combining and connecting to produce new and exciting developments – connected intelligence, in other words.


Collision and Collaboration

Chetan Sharma, one of MFF’s organizers, says ecosystems like 5G, Blockchain, IoT and others are “exponential in themselves”, but it’s when they “collide and collaborate to give birth to something new and unexpected” that exciting things happen. He says it’s “at the edges” where the breakthroughs are happening. Like the nature of technology ecosystems today, the breakthroughs are exponential, as well.

mobilefutureforward Connected Intelligence through Exponential Ecosystems — Mobile Future Forward


A Feast of Information

Mobile Future Forward is a one-day event that packs in an enormous amount of information on topics such as the future of AI, Machine Learning and Robotics, Monetizing and Scaling the IIoT Wave, Transforming Healthcare and the Future of Cybersecurity. Meaty topics, for sure!

There is no question that we’re living at a time of enormous, often transformative, change as technology impacts more and more areas in our daily lives. Optimus is thrilled to be part of this technological “world of wonder” and we are looking forward to being involved in the action in Seattle.


Our Special Offer

As a special offer to our customers, Optimus is taking $100 off the entry price — we want as many of you to be there with us as possible!

You can register below, including code OPTIMUS when you complete the form, and you’ll automatically receive the reduced rate.


Read more about the conference:

How a Global Puzzle Competition is Changing Software Application Development and QA Testing

Teams of people including students, interns, software application developers, QA testers and more from around the world competed recently in the third annual CS50 Puzzle Day, sponsored by Harvard University. CS50 is a Harvard-developed academic course that explores the theory of computer science, its purpose and intent and while the competition was originally created for students, it now attracts a global following of those interested in improving collaboration and analytical thinking for software application development and QA testing.

Software Application Development and a Global Game of Mastermind

At midnight on Friday, March 9, 2018, more than three thousand people from around the world broke into teams to tackle eight different puzzles created by Harvard University professor, David Malan[1]. Malan is the man who developed CS50 as a way of making computer science understandable to everyone, regardless of their prior knowledge of how computers operate. The unintended outcome of his breakthrough course was how the puzzle games are helping software application development teams think differently and collaborate more effectively

The teams had until the stroke of midnight on Monday, March 12 to complete the eight puzzles. Among those teams were three from Optimus Information’s location in Noida, India, made up of interns and experienced software application developers and QA testers.

opt-cs50-1-300x169 How a Global Puzzle Competition is Changing Software Application Development and QA TestingThe Optimus teams quickly realized that computer programming skills were not required. What was required of them was the ability to think logically, using their intelligence.

Anil Kumar Saini led one of the teams. He said they spent the first day – a full 24 hours – working on the puzzle questions at the office and then continued to work from their homes throughout the weekend, staying in contact with each other the entire time.

“We had no idea what to expect”, he said, “so, we watched videos online to prepare. While the first levels were simple, they became progressively more difficult and we realized that none of us could solve these problems working in silos.”

Building Collaborative Skills

Saini decided his team needed to reach out for assistance, so he contacted fellow Optimus employee, Swapnil Kumar and his team. Both teams began to collaborate on the problems before them.

What was interesting was that neither Saini nor Kumar really knew each other at Optimus. Kumar says he and Anil worked in separate areas of the company and never interacted, day to day.

opt-cs50-2-300x225 How a Global Puzzle Competition is Changing Software Application Development and QA Testing“But the puzzle competition meant that we had to collaborate with each other. The benefit was that we were able to tap into each team’s diverse ways of looking at the same problem. The result meant we expanded our thinking beyond our normal, work-related problem solving. And Anil and I have now become good friends, as a result.”

Anil Saini added that the competition had the effect of leveling the playing field among the team members. “It didn’t matter if some of us were experienced software application development or QA testing team members and others were interns; it provided equal opportunity for all and everyone contributed to getting the right answers. It was a true collaborative experience.”

A Lasting Impact

Their collaboration worked so well that the Optimus teams finished with every puzzle solved correctly; one of their teams even cracked the coveted top thirty. More than this, though, is how the experience has affected the team members when they now engage in their projects at work.

Mayank Varshney was one of the Optimus participants in the quiz. He saw an immediate impact on his role in QA testing.

“Participating in this team approach has altered how we think analytically, now. In my work, I test the functionalities of our software and now I’m looking at different approaches where Optimus can deliver even greater quality to our clients. This is a direct result of my experience in the competition.”
CS50-Puzzle-day-Winners How a Global Puzzle Competition is Changing Software Application Development and QA Testing
This was exactly what Optimus had hoped would happen when the company encouraged its employees and interns in Noida to take part. The participants pushed each other to think outside the box and seek different methods to solve the problems posed by the eight puzzles.

They did just that and the impact of utilizing different ways of tackling a problem has changed the way these Optimus employees are now functioning in their own roles within the company.

Optimus Information is built on its employees and its success reflects the depth of talent the company harnesses on a daily basis to create value for its clients.

Contact us today and we’ll tell you more about how collaborative thinking can generate breakthrough solutions that will propel your business forward.


Optimus Breakfast Series: The Do’s and Don’ts of Software Outsourcing Recap

The most recent installment of the Optimus Breakfast Series took place yesterday morning, Oct. 5th, 2017. This event hosted an engaging discussion on when and how to outsource software projects effectively. If you missed it, stay tuned to the Optimus blog for the complete video recording!

For those that attended, there were excellent networking opportunities with attendees from some of Vancouver’s top brands:

Screen-Shot-2017-10-06-at-11.46.36-AM-copy-1030x618 Optimus Breakfast Series: The Do's and Don'ts of Software Outsourcing Recap


Moderated by Pankaj Agarwal – Founder and Managing Partner at Optimus Information

Ralph Turfus – Technology Entrepreneur

Ally Bharmal – Partner, Fasken Martineau

Tejinder Basi – Former Partner, Deloitte; Director, Blockchain Society of BC

We would like to extend a big thank you to those who joined us! If you missed it, join our mailing list in the right pane of this page to get notified about our upcoming events.

Highlights from the Morning

IMG_4343-1030x687 Optimus Breakfast Series: The Do's and Don'ts of Software Outsourcing RecapIMG_4348-1030x687 Optimus Breakfast Series: The Do's and Don'ts of Software Outsourcing Recap

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Optimus Breakfast Series: Testing in an Interconnected World – Video

How to Test Applications as They Become Increasingly Universal

In case you couldn’t make it to Testing in an Interconnected World on June 13th, 2017, you can watch the entire panel discussion here. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter and follow our events page to register for the next event.


Steve Whitfield – Technical Director, Mobile Apps at lululemon athletica

Stu Ashman – QA Director at Mio Global

Larry Ng – Director of Quality at Visier

Moderated by Pankaj Agarwal – Founder and Managing Partner at Optimus Information


Testing in an Interconnected World: Event Recap

How to test applications as they become increasingly universal

In case you missed it, the latest instalment of the Optimus Breakfast Series went off Tuesday morning, June 13th, 2017. The event brought together three of the top software testing executives from Vancouver’s leading companies to talk software testing and the complexities they face in our new interconnected world.

This was a sold-out event that drew over 60 attendees from 35 different organizations!


Moderated by Pankaj Agarwal – Founder and Managing Partner at Optimus Information

Steve Whitfield – Technical Director, Mobile Apps at lululemon athletica

Stu Ashman – QA Director at Mio Global

Larry Ng – Director of Quality at Visier

We would like to extend a big thank you to those who joined us! If you missed it, join our mailing list in the right pane of this page to get notified about our upcoming events.

Stay tuned for the complete video recording to be posted on the Optimus blog.

Fun fact: Larry Ng will also be speaking at VanQ, our QA and Testing Meetup, on Thursday, June 29th. He’ll be speaking on Endpoint Testing with Gatling. Check out the details and register here.

Highlights from the Morning

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Announcing Transform 2016 – A data analytics breakfast event

Optimus is excited to bring you Transform 2016 on Oct. 20th 2016!

Transform 2016 will bring three executives from leading Vancouver organizations to talk about how they are using data analytics to grow and transform their business.

Learn how they used analytics to uncover the story their data is telling, the problems that it uncovered and how they transformed them into opportunities. We’ll also ask about the tools they’ve used, what worked, what didn’t work, and how they chose them.

Are you truly using Data Analytics to stimulate growth and find real opportunities? Find out Oct. 20th.

What to Expect

This breakfast event will include a presentation from Microsoft and a panel discussion with 3 executives from Vancouver’s leading data-driven companies. The presentation will cover how Microsoft views Data Analytics and their vision for the future.

Panel questions will be driven by the you, the audience, so you’ll have the chance to discuss what really matters to you and solve problems you are currently facing.


Andrew Boudreau Data Platform Technical Specialist at Microsoft

At Microsoft, their ambition is to democratize data insights for all of their customers, by providing the building blocks and tools to empower organizations large & small. They enable organizations to build, innovate and transform quickly, so they realize business impact and results faster. They believe an organization’s data is a key strategic asset which, when combined with the cloud and the potential of intelligence capabilities, provides the opportunity to automate, innovate and increase the speed of business. Andrew Boudreau will discuss how Power BI enables anyone to visualize and analyze data with greater speed, efficiency, and understanding, leading to new and dramatic insights, allowing them to become agile in their business processes.


Klaus Salchner VP of Engineering at BuildDirect Technologies

Klaus Salchner is currently the VP of Engineering at BuildDirect where he manages a team responsible for the consumer side, supply chain side and 2D and 3D modeling side of BuildDirect’s platform. Before BuildDirect, Klaus held VP roles at Sage, Elastic Path and Absolute Software. He is a seasoned executive which has more than twenty-five years of experience running product development organizations around the globe. He has managed multi-million dollar budgets and his experience includes both the Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure platform as well as the Java/J2EE, .NET, Node JS, Python and PHP platforms.

Rizwan Somji VP of Technology at Cymax Group 

Rizwan Somji is currently the vice president of technology at Cymax Stores and has over 15 years of experience leading high performance, agile and globally-diverse technology teams. As the former co-founder and VP of engineering for ResponseTek Networks, Somji brings a track record of building highly scalable, hosted SaaS applications. Rizwan is also actively involved in supporting local organizations and charities, currently serving on the Board of Advisors for GradusOne and an active mentor at UBC’s tri-mentor program.

More panelists to be announced!

Technical Debt Questions and Answers with Philippe Kruchten


Technical-Debt-Dont-Go-Bankrupt Technical Debt Questions and Answers with Philippe Kruchten

The following are the technical debt questions and answers from the Technical Debt: Don’t Go Bankrupt breakfast session with Philippe Kruchten hosted by Optimus Information Inc.

There is a 52 minute video of the presentation. You can also download the presentation slides on Prof. Kruchten’s site including the substantial reference list.

The November 2012 issue of IEEE Software Magazine is a special issue on technical debt featuring an introduction by Prof. Kruchten.

Technical Debt Questions and Answers

Q: Are there any specific examples or case studies you can recommend?

Why don’t you grab my slides. Some of the papers that I list, some of the URLs that I list are actually about people that have done case studies.

Q: Has anyone looked at the human factors with technical debt? What happens when you do take on a fair amount due to the issues with expertise…I see a real issue with scalability and retention of resources as you incur more technical debt.

No. I don’t recall seeing anything like that. It would be nice to look at the people issue and how it affects morale.

Q: My issue is largely that I am working within a set context: set budget, set timeline, set expectations and set cognitive biases. You are largely talking about the software engineering side of it, but do you have some thoughts about the more business side of this?

[I]nvolve the business in realizing that there is technical debt, how technical debt comes into play [that] decision that you make tomorrow will have some impact in 3 months from now or in 3 years from now.

We techies tend to hide or protect the business from the visibility of those issues and then the management is likely to say that “You did this to yourself. I didn’t know, yes I was pushing you for more stuff, but I didn’t know the consequences.”

I think making people more aware with some concrete examples that are more relevant to your context might help. You can diminish the impact of cognitive biases by having more accurate, pertinent information that people can relate to.

Q: Right, but being the cheapest up front is a pretty strong thing to fight against.

Don’t lose memory of it. Say that we are making these decisions because of these constraints. They have the consequences. Lets write these consequences [down] and make them visible rather than hide them and pretend that they didn’t happen and forget.

After you do the release in six months, the situation will be the same. It will be “oh we are pressed by time and we need this [feature] early.”

“Yes, but we have all of these things that we have to do first before rushing in to that [feature]. You agreed to [this].”

Having visibility and agreement up front and writing it down might be useful: keeping things visible as we go along rather than hiding them. The main problem is hiding [technical debt] even sometimes forgetting it.

Q: I think there’s an education component to it as well. Because what you just described is making people aware of deliberate technical debt but there is also indeliberate technical debt that you mentioned earlier in your slides as well. And I think you have to educate people that don’t know about it; that this is possibly a problem down the line and we should possibly account for this down the line.

The MacConnell Type 1 [technical debt], small scattered low quality code, this is easier. There are a lot of tools now that can do static analysis.

It’s a matter of [rolling] up your sleeve, [putting] the right tool in place and [knocking] down some poor quality code: this algorithm is too complex lets break it; this needs to be organized a little bit.

These tasks are relatively easy to do and relatively easy to spread over time and to educate people to do a better job over time.

It’s more the massive chunk of technical debt that people tend to live with. They just say “What can we do? It’s just too big to refactor. We have to live with it now.”

Not having objective facts that are not taken from somebody’s blog or presentation, but are from your own context: gathering data about code quality; difficulty to evolve; how does your velocity evolved over time; and having some metrics that are particular to your environment and making those visible. And trying to look at why and why and why.

Trying to go at the root cause might be a first approach. It’s…a matter of information and education.

For more technical debt questions, check out the full video of the event.

Upcoming Events

We have a few more similar events planned for the near future on the following topics:

  • HTML5 vs. Native Apps for Mobile (Early Jan.)
  • Performance Testing
  • Testing Infrastructure in the Cloud
  • Enterprise Software Implementation – Avoid Surprises
  • Software Outsourcing – Do’s and Don’ts

If you would like to see a topic, be sure to contact us with your ideas, or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Note: This blog post has been updated with new information.

Technical Debt: Don’t Go Bankrupt

Technical debt is simply defined as software engineering issues that affect future decisions and total cost of ownership.

Technical debt ranges from such things as poor code, which is easily detected and fixed, to structural and architectural choices as well as technological gaps.

As with regular debt, the cost of technical debt compounds over time; but, unlike regular debt, you can choose to live with technical debt. You should consider the value or cost of adding new functionality or fixing defects against the cost of not repaying your debt.

Technical Debt Video

Philippe Kruchten speaks about Technical Debt at a breakfast session hosted by Optimus Information Inc. titled Technical Debt: Don’t Go Bankrupt.

Further Information

The Technical Debt Q and A from after the session is available. You can also download the presentation slides on Prof. Kruchten’s site including the substantial reference list.

The November 2012 issue of IEEE Software Magazine is a special issue on technical debt featuring an introduction by Prof. Kruchten.


About the Keynote Speaker: Philippe Kruchten

philippe-kruchten1 Technical Debt: Don't Go Bankrupt

Our keynote speaker for the session is Prof. Philippe Kruchten.  Professor Kruchten is a leading authority on technical debt and its impact on software engineering.

He has over 30 years of experience in the industry including 7 years as Director of Process Development at Rational Software before joining IBM.  At Rational, he developed the Rational Unified Process, an iterative software development process framework designed to adapt to the unique needs of a team or organization.

He is a professor of software engineering at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. As a founding member of IFIP WG2.10, he conducts research in the software development process and software architecture.

Kruchten received his PhD from the École Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications in Paris. He’s a professional engineer in Canada, an IEEEE CSDP, and a senior member of IEEE Computer Society.

About the Moderator: Pankaj Agarwal

Pankaj Agarwal is the Founder and Managing Partner at Optimus Information Inc., a leading IT consulting organization in  BC.

Prior to Optimus, Pankaj was the CEO and cofounder of Momentum Technologies. Momentum was acquired by a $2 Billion IT consulting company Sopra Group. Pankaj Agarwal served Sopra Group as member of the Executive board.

He is considered a leader in the IT Outsourcing space. Pankaj has been recipient of Business in Vancouver “40 under 40”.

He has served on board of BCTIA. Pankaj currently serves on boards of Science World and The Indus Entrepreneurs. He also serves as Advisory Board Member of VIVA, Vancouver Institute of Visual Analytics.

Upcoming Events

We have a few more similar events planned for the near future on the following topics:

  • HTML5 vs. Native Apps for Mobile (Early Jan.)
  • Performance Testing
  • Testing Infrastructure in the Cloud
  • Enterprise Software Implementation – Avoid Surprises
  • Software Outsourcing – Do’s and Don’ts


Note: This blog post has been updated with new information.