Take The Lead – Trailblazing In Technology To Infinity And Beyond
Yvonne Pilon founded her first Tech Company — AD2IT — at 24 and at 29 became the youngest female to lead a Regional Innovation Centre in Ontario.
She was recently appointed to the Technology Councils of North America’s Board of Directors. TECNA represents 60 IT and technology trade organizations that, in turn, represent more than 22,000 technology-related companies in North America.
This prestigious appointment gave Pilon an opportunity to play a role in growing and advocating for the North American technology economy alongside 12 other executives from the U.S. and Canada, clearly defining her as a leader in technology.
More proof Pilon is a leader is evident in the number of awards she has racked up — the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce “Young Professional of the Year”; Leadership Windsor/Essex “40 Leaders Under 40”; Biz X magazine “2017 Powerhouse Professional” and University of Windsor “Odyssey Award”. She received the “Digital Influencer of the Year” Award from the Economic Developers Council of Ontario and the “Top Social Media Influencer” in Canadian Tech as well as the Leadership Windsor/Essex “Alumni Distinction Award”.
Currently, she is the President/CEO of WEtech Alliance, Windsor Essex’s technology accelerator, an industry-led organization focused on driving the growth and success of technology centric companies and entrepreneurs through leadership connections and promotion.
A natural entrepreneur, Pilon started young with lemonade stands and ticketed carnivals. A business school entrepreneurship class opened her eyes to new opportunities, ultimately leading to the creation of her first tech venture. After this undertaking she began working for a small IT Consortium called Softech Alliance Network, which led to WEtech.
Pilon created YKNOT Windsor-Essex (a youth retention and attraction initiative); the “Windsor 180 Summit” and hosts the “Tech in the City” Podcast. She is Co-Founder of Branded Sisters, a marketing services agency and was an Instructor at St. Clair College, MediaPlex.
“Being in the tech and economic development space could not be more satisfying,” Pilon comments. “I get the chance to be surrounded by passionate entrepreneurs every day, connect with tech leaders across the globe, help build a more resilient and diversified region, learn every day and most importantly, work alongside a brilliant team and board.”When I asked about her dream job she responds: “I am really starting to shift my thinking to ‘what is my dream problem to solve’? With this new mindset, I feel less constricted to ‘a job’ and more conscious of ‘a purpose’.”
Her advice to young girls is to “quit following stereotypes, never be the smartest person in room, work hard and have fun, learn how to ‘sell’ yourself (you are a brand after all), embrace change and failure, and let the haters be the reason you rise up, not fall down.”
She continues by suggesting to: “Always go the extra mile because it’s never crowded and surround yourself with people who talk about ideas, not people.”
If she could change one thing in the tech world it would be to solve the diversity/inclusion challenges and ultimately, enable all tech to be used for good.
As a passionate advocate of the Windsor and Essex County region she thinks: “We have an amazing story to tell and I look forward to sharing it across all wavelengths.”
She believes in throwing the ladder back down to help mentor/support other young people to reach for their goals.
Last year I had an opportunity to interview Dean Kamen, the Founder of First Robotics and inventor of the Segway. We spoke about the work Pilon was doing and he was impressed with her contributions, passion for technology and use of social media to inspire and encourage women into tech fields.
“Pilon is the poster-child for the new image of women in technology — she will go far,” Kamen stated.
I couldn’t agree more. I am positive she will be CEO of a Fortune 500 company someday. Hopefully she will have the power to make that happen in Windsor Essex.
Sherrilynn Colley-Vegh is an award winning leadership consultant and former Director of Leadership Windsor/Essex, Principal, Chief Communications Officer and business owner with over 30 years of experience in education, administration, mentoring, consulting and community leadership. If you know a leader in the community to profile here in this column, please email: [email protected]