I grew up just outside of Toronto. In high school, I managed a McDonald's and also started my first entrepreneurial venture: I sold custom-printed t-shirts and used the profits to buy my prom dress. In 2009, I graduated from the Richard Ivey School of Business at (what is now known as) Western University. Back then, I had a different plan for myself. I was going to join a Fortune 500 company and work my way up.
I spent my last semester of university on exchange in Hong Kong and liked it so much that I decided to stay in Asia after graduation. I moved to a small coastal city on the Chinese mainland called Xiamen and studied international relations under a scholarship from the Chinese government. I spent most of my time there learning to code.
In mid-2010, I returned to Toronto and spent a year in a corporate gig before realizing that I'm better suited for the world of startups. In May of 2011, I found myself in Los Angeles and stumbled upon a Python workshop for women organized by the PyLadies. I had an incredible time. I was so inspired that, when I returned to Toronto, I tweeted about how we should have a group in Toronto for women who want to learn how to code. And that was the start of Ladies Learning Code. Today, we have chapters in 22 cities across Canada, a permanent home in Toronto, and thriving girls' and youth programs. Since our first workshop in August 2011, over 10,000 people have learned a new technical skill at a Ladies Learning Code workshop. Haven't checked us out yet? You can check out our upcoming workshops and events here.
The idea for HackerYou came in early 2012. We'd learned a lot about how to teach beginners to code in a fun and interactive way, and we knew we could create an amazing long-form learning experience. HackerYou was Canada's first programming bootcamp, and to this day is the only bootcamp in existence that is run by women. We run both full-time and part-time courses throughout the year our of our 12,000 square foot facility at Queen & Spadina - maybe one of them is a fit for you?
Are you also passionate about technology education, entrepreneurship, women in tech, or one of the other things I'm into? Let's connect! Send me an email at heather [at] www.heatherpayne.ca, find me on Twitter, or just send me a note. Oh, and yes, I'm available for speaking gigs. I'm represented by Lavin. :)
Movers and Starters: Heather Payne
by Igor Bonifacic
Globe and Mail
Girl code: the making of the next Marissa Mayer
by Amanda Kwan
HackerYou: Beating the coding barrier
by Erin Bury
HackerYou aims to disrupt tech education
by Russ Martin
Ladies Learning Code seeks to close gender gap
by Zoe McKnight