Heather Payne

Hi! My name's Heather Payne. I'm a 27-
year-old entrepreneur living in Toronto, Canada. I'm the founder of HackerYou and Ladies Learning Code. I'm also an angel investor (with one exit so far), one of Canada's 100 Most Powerful Women, and I love being a role model for people who are thinking about changing their careers and their lives.

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 out 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. :)


I love what I get to do every day, and it's fun when I get to share my work with others. Here are a few of my favourite articles from the past few years.

Mar 7

Toronto Standard
Movers and Starters: Heather Payne
by Igor Bonifacic

Since starting Ladies Learning Code in 2011, Heather Payne and her talented team of co-founders, instructors, and mentors have helped countless women (and men) realize...

Aug 23

Globe and Mail
Girl code: the making of the next Marissa Mayer
by Amanda Kwan

Scrawled across a window is a frank declaration of teenage love: “I [heart] > One Direction” – a reference to the popular British boy band and the only visible sign that the loft-like...

JUN 11

Financial Post
HackerYou: Beating the coding barrier
by Erin Bury

The lack of women in technology is an oft-discussed topic, and some women are actively trying to address with their startups. Last August, four Toronto women joined forces...

JUN 06

HackerYou aims to disrupt tech education
by Russ Martin

Last summer a group called Ladies Learning Code made its debut on the Toronto tech scene. It aimed to increase digital literacy amongst women through a series of workshops...

Nov 04

Toronto Star
Ladies Learning Code seeks to close gender gap
by Zoe McKnight

In the fifth-floor offices of a web development company on a grey Saturday morning, 30 women type out these words although they don’t quite understand what they mean...