Christina Macedo, an Italian-Canadian woman in the tech sector

by KELSEY ROLFE

Christina Macedo’s path to a career in technology was an indirect one—and now she wants to encourage women like her to take a chance on the industry. Macedo, 30, is the vice president of operations and people strategy at Ready, an American mobile game developer that set up shop in Montreal. Tasked with ensuring the company is financially and legally sustainable, Macedo focuses on making sure the startup is what she calls “people-sound.” “A tech company or startup can have the most amazing product, but if you do not have the right staff, your business is going nowhere,” she says.

The wider tech scene has, in the past few years, begun to reckon with its culture issue. Startups that have failed to prioritize diversity of experience and haven’t fostered inclusive environments have been hit with bad press and loss of investor confidence.

Macedo says that, at Ready, she not only prioritizes diversity in the traditional sense, but also seeks out applicants with untraditional backgrounds—people (women specifically) who might not have seen themselves as fit for the role. “Women [sometimes] feel that they’re not as qualified as their male colleagues. One of the tasks I gave myself was to try to encourage as many women as I could to join Ready,” she says. “I’m still picking the most qualified individual, but when I’m looking for new talent, I’ll headhunt. If I wouldn’t have done that, there’s a great chance that [some women] wouldn’t have applied.”

If not for a little luck, Macedo might not have been in a position to effect change in the industry. She got her first taste of the tech industry while working for Centris, the Montreal Real Estate Board’s very new tech department, where she implemented customer-facing products. “That was my first interaction with tech,” she says, “and it really started piquing my interest.”

She finished up law school and went to bar school, but her stint in the tech sector left her wanting more. “I didn’t really see myself just being a lawyer. I really liked being part of a business and taking care of that innovation side of tech,” she says. That drive pushed her to move to Toronto in 2015 for her first job in the industry—director of account management at LifeSpeak Inc., a Toronto health portal, where she handled product innovation.

A headhunter approached her in 2017 about working for Ready. When the opportunity came around, she felt she was—excuse the pun—ready for it. Macedo is now in the position to recruit women to work at a company whose target audience is also women. Ready has two products: Ready Maker, an engine for coding mobile games and Ready Games, a line of mobile games. Despite men typically being perceived as gamers, a study by Newzoo found that women make up half of the audience for mobile games. And mobile gaming now represents 51% of the global gaming market, far more than Xbox and PlayStation. “The moneymakers [for mobile game developers] are actually women,” Macedo says.

According to a joint study by Google Play and Newzoo, 65% of women aged 10 to 65 play mobile games. She said she’s heartened to have seen an increase in diversity and a culture change during her time in the tech sector. “What’s happening is there are more women taking up higher management roles who are challenging themselves to bring diversity to a team.”

Macedo says she would encourage girls and young women who are interested in technology to embrace their curiosity. “Ask questions. If something interests you or you want to know how something works, ask. When you stay quiet, you don’t get the answers that you need,” she says. “There were so many jobs people didn’t talk to me about because I was a girl. It’s not anyone’s fault; it’s just social standards.”