Pilar Portela, a Female Force in Canadian Tech
While steps have been made in the world of tech when it comes to women in the workforce, there's still a long way to go. One dynamic woman leading the revolution and paving the way for others is Pilar Portela, CEO, i4C Innovation.
Her company is an innovative industry hub, which uses digitization, connectivity, and smart factory components throughout the production process. The company deploys end-to-end industrial solutions for industries including mining, forestry, energy, agriculture, and more. They're located on Metal Tech Alley in British Columbia, where endeavors such as Portela's are making an impact.
Starting Over, Reaping The Rewards
Proving it's never too late to finish what you started, Portela went back to school in her late 30s, after having to give up her initial higher education when she got married and moved to Canada, where she started working the day after she arrived. In a swift four years, while still working, she earned both bachelor's degree in International Trade and a master's in Project Management with an emphasis in High Tech, showing her commitment to hard work and new ways of thinking. Portela says, “The feeling of having at least attempted something in life, whether you fail or succeed, is one of the most rewarding feelings you will have in life.”
Portela, a serial entrepreneur, has started 9 companies with varying degrees of success. The latest acquired was Astra Smart Systems, which she leads as CEO.
Finding a Unique Need
i4C Innovation services include data acquisition, data processing, data analytics and data visualization to target the areas of industrial safety, process optimization, supply chain management, and logistics.
“The ability to commercialize and integrate disparate technologies to create a solution larger than each component is unique, and to be able to get organizations to collaborate for the success of all, is even more so,” Portela explains. “When you get a great group of siloed solutions that can, together, become a world class solution, you have a great 'product' to commercialize.”
Advice and Encouragement
From her first taste of coding as a high school senior to becoming CEO of her own technology company, Portela can certainly offer sound advice to those interested in the field, ready to embark on an exceptional challenge.
As for what she'd tell young women ready to realize their dreams,
“Technology is not just about math. It is about design, management, finance, marketing, sales, etc. You can enter this world through a variety of angles and be extremely successful. The key aspect is that it is the most fast-paced, constant learning experience.
Everything is outdated six months after you learned it, so you really have to be content with a true life of learning.”
In a field that is lacking in female representation, Portela wants women to know that there's a place for them, and she's passionate about it.
Tomorrow Is Now
The future is sure to change fast. Portela is ready to accomplish new goals and generate her own creative contributions to the industry. She understands the challenges for her company specifically, as well as the global impact all tech will inevitably make.
She advises, “Always think global. Every product or service you ever develop must have the capacity to have a global application. And in my case, for a greater good; something that is commercially viable so you can sustain it over time, while solving one or more of the world's greatest sustainable development goals.”
“The future is tech,” Portela says.
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