Amira Boutouchent, Julie Tousignant and Catherine Proulx, Ubisoft Women in Tech ambassadors, visited Silicon Valley last April 29 to May 3 as part of the trade mission seeking to promote Quebec’s expertise and to draw inspiration from technology giants.
They share their thoughts on this exceptional adventure.
The first part of the mission involved visiting companies. We were able to tour Ubisoft, Airbnb, Netflix, Facebook and ABB San Francisco!
Many things struck me during these visits. The first was the different corporate cultures. At Airbnb and Facebook, the Californian startup ambiance is palpable. It was interesting to see that despite its 5,000 employees, Airbnb still considers itself a young startup with lots to prove.
At Netflix, the culture was calmer and more “adult.” They actually told us that they only recruit “fully grown-up adults”! Due to this, it’s rare to find fresh university graduates at Netflix.
Finally, ABB was much more traditional, but very smooth and clear. The company’s red and white logo was visible everywhere. ABB is in my wheelhouse, but having just recently returned from the 2019 trade mission to Hannover Messe, I was already well aware of its current development.
I was pleasantly surprised by our visits to Airbnb and Netflix, primarily because we had the opportunity to talk to someone in charge of the company’s payment system, which is the cornerstone of its platform. Since BRIDGR is a marketplace, these issues directly affect my company as well. I learned a lot about the challenges and innovations to come! We were also able to have a discussion with a government and public relations person, and it was refreshing to see the openness with which she answered our questions. The quote I remember best is: “If you have a model that might disrupt existing laws, you need to prepare or help authorities establish new laws rather than waiting for the problems to solve themselves!”
At Netflix, it was the Director of Video Algorithms who answered our questions. As service users, we quickly forget the technological prowess necessary to attain service this smooth. For example, we talked a great deal about the company’s compression algorithm, but we also touched on competition and challenges regarding content and production.
The visits were very illuminating. They gave me quite a bit of inspiration regarding the kind of culture we need to establish at BRIDGR. They also taught me that even though it’s essential to emphasize our technology, market development is also hugely important.
The Women of Silicon Valley event
This mission was organized around the Women of Silicon Valley event: two inspiring days of presentations and workshops on subjects ranging from the popularization of artificial intelligence to self-confidence! The event was very interesting, not only because the attendees were mainly women, but also because subjects were approached from a point of view that was completely different from other technology conferences I have attended in the past.
Though the event was very constructive, it was aimed less at women entrepreneurs and more at women working in the technology sector looking to advance their careers. I recommend it to anyone in that position!
The Quebec delegation
I think that the most magical element of the mission was the delegation: women entrepreneurs working in spheres as diverse as medicine, video games and artificial intelligence, all with very inspiring journeys. We created relationships that will last a long time. We were able to discuss our challenges and our projects, as well as how to help other women in the technology sector. I’m sure that this mission was just the beginning of a wonderful entrepreneurial and human adventure!
I’ve summarized just a few of the things that struck me the most during the mission. I’ll be writing a final article on the importance of this type of mission for an initiative like Ubisoft Women in Tech.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal. As a result, the Chamber cannot be held responsible for published content.
About the trade mission to Silicon Valley
The trade mission to Silicon Valley, led by the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal in partnership with Ubisoft, was presented by the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation. The trade mission was made possible through the cooperation of CN and the participation of the Offices jeunesse internationaux du Québec, Montréal International and our official carrier, Air Canada.