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 Vancouver, Ottawa, Halifax, London and Calgary, a permanent workshop space in Toronto, and a thriving girls' program. Since our first workshop in August 2011, over 4000 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. Our first course, an Introduction to Web Development led by Wes Bos, sold out and was an overwhelming success. Now, HackerYou runs three courses a year in Toronto, and also offers workshops, and corporate training. We also just announces our first full-time program, which we're running in Summer 2013 in partnership with Shopify in Ottawa. We have scholarships and travel bursaries available - click here to learn more.
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] heatherpayne.ca, find me on Twitter, or just send me a note. Oh, and yes, I'm available for speaking gigs. :)
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