To continue our celebration of Women in Tech, we sat down with PLATO’s Chief People Officer, Stephanie Zamora, to learn about her role and leadership within the organization.

Tell us a little about yourself and your role with PLATO.

I am PLATO’s first Chief People Officer and I’m responsible for leading our People and Culture team (which includes human resources and talent acquisition). A part of the strategic direction of the company is to build out the corporate culture, diversity and inclusion, and positioning PLATO for anticipated growth.

I have over 15 years of progressive HR experience in the private and public sector at an Executive level, holding positions such as Chief Human Resource Officer, Chief People and Culture Officer, Vice President of Human Resources & Indigenous Initiatives and Director of HR & Organizational Development.

What attracted you to PLATO?

One of the things that attracted me to PLATO is their mission. When looking for a new role and to change companies, it’s important to ask, “what are some of the things that this company wants to achieve?” Because I’ve never worked in the technology sector, I wasn’t familiar with PLATO.  I had to ask myself, “can I see myself being a part of it?”

The biggest attraction, for me, was that PLATO is an Indigenous owned company that works towards increasing diversity in the technology sector by providing meaningful opportunities for Indigenous people. This social impact is creating learning opportunities through conscious and deliberate efforts. I think PLATO is really making significant and positive changes that are addressing social challenges for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.

PLATO is working directly with Indigenous people and their communities across Canada and providing training and employment opportunities. This was something that I wanted to be a part of and have the opportunity to contribute to. We’re really making a change in peoples’ lives; personally, with their families and within their communities, and communities across Canada.

How has your experience been, so far?

It’s been a learning experience. It’s a collaborative, supportive and engaging environment. I am learning that our leadership team cares about our people and the work that they do. They are compassionate, empathetic and inclusive. They’re always willing to offer their knowledge and provide context to things that I don’t know.

Can you tell us about a project or initiative that you’re working toward?

One of my priorities that I am super excited to work on is working with the people of the company and developing the HR and People strategy for the company. Chief People Officer is a newly created role for PLATO, and with the anticipated growth to more than 500 people in the next year, PLATO’s executive leadership recognized the need to ensure that there is support in this area.

I am developing a HR/People Strategy that will prepare our people for the growth that is coming. The human capital is the biggest asset to a company and being able to work on developing what that will look like for the anticipated growth is very exciting. In addition to looking at organizational change strategies, I am looking at the Indigenous aspect of the company and how we build upon that from the view of “for us, by us.” And how we effectively build that into the learning and the development of all of our people across the company.

The other piece that I’m really excited for is providing Indigenous learning and knowledge sessions to the company.

Mentorship is crucial for professional advancement, but particularly for women in sectors where there is underrepresentation (such as technology). Can you share a meaningful experience that you had with a mentor or role model? How do you support emerging women leaders in your organization?

When I started my career in HR, I was fortunate enough to be mentored by very experienced executives. They took me under their wings and taught me everything they knew about how to be an inclusive, strategic leader. They saw leadership qualities in me and wanted to do everything they could do to advance my career. I was fortunate enough to be working closely with the CEO, who taught me how to actively listen to people, how to critically think about decisions, how to look at competing interests, how to negotiate, and how to influence conversations. I use these skills everyday in my leadership role.

I now have the opportunity to sit in leadership positions, to not only be a mentor and coach like others were for me, but to provide opportunities for First Nations professionals and open those doors and provide those opportunities. I support emerging women leaders by providing opportunities to learn, create and develop new ways to get the work done. I do this by getting them to critically think, look at competing interests and find solutions. I work from a very solutions-based approach and I foster that in the mentoring and coaching that I do everyday with the people.

How is the role of HR or People and Culture changing?

HR historically hasn’t always been a part of strategic discussions, but companies are now seeing the strategic benefits of having them participate. The impact of having a HR and People strategy not only benefits the company, but also its people.

What would you say to a woman interested in a career in tech or with PLATO?

The world is a different place now. The barriers that used to exist in certain industries, like tech, are no longer there. The tech industry is constantly changing and evolving, so if you like learning and developing, tech is a career to consider.

This is my first venture into tech and while we’re not all women, I don’t feel like I’m the only woman. It’s a very inclusive and welcoming environment. If you want to work for a place that aligns with your values, a company that makes meaningful impact through the work that they do, and a place for advancement and learning opportunities, then PLATO is the place for you.

Is there anything else that you’d like to share?

It’s important to remember that if you’re nervous, that’s good, because that mean you’re being challenged. That’s the only way that you’ll grow in your career; and grow as a professional.