From the dot-com boom to the advent of artificial intelligence and cloud infrastructure, the IT industry has changed significantly over the last three decades.
Gillian Morton has seen and experienced it all. She has held accounting supervisor, finance manager, and recruiter roles at various digital assets, marketing, advertising, consulting, and real estate companies for the first 20 years of her career. She became the chief financial officer of Blair Technology Solutions, a managed service provider, in 2009, and has been there ever since.
During that time, she also spent six years leading Blair’s technology resources division and digitally transforming the company from a traditional value-added reseller into the modern managed service provider it is today.
Morton’s background may not originally be in tech, but she has used her skills in finance to embrace the challenge. Her unique path and resulting success in the Canadian IT channel has made her one of CDN’s honourees at this year’s Women in the IT Channel event.
“I first started my career in finance, but the thing about finance is that it goes hand-in-hand with IT. I was learning about ERP [enterprise resource planning] systems when they were brand new and was very involved in many things that had to do with technology,” she tells CDN. “Then when I became a part of the channel at Blair Technology, it gave me the opportunity to get involved in the operations of this company, which meant I had to learn technology. I didn’t just have to manage it anymore, I actually had to learn what it was all about and it’s been a great journey.”
Morton says that in fact, she’s still learning. With the rise of the cloud, she has “learned more in the last three years then I had in the last 10, and I’d learned a lot in those last 10, so that’s saying a lot.”
She adds that Blair’s partners and the channel ecosystem itself have also helped her find her footing.
“In the past two, three years, Blair has become a private cloud provider in addition to offering AWS, Azure, Google, and IBM services as well. I’ve learned to go with the flow; it’s like being pulled along with the tide,” Morton explains. “It’s been wonderful and so have our partners, like IBM, Microsoft, Commvault, and Arrow, our distributor. That channel ecosystem gives a smaller company like Blair access to world-class advice, training, subject matter experts, mentoring, and marketing opportunities. That support has been crucial to my success.”
Morton says she is fortunate to be naturally strong in technical areas like math and science, which has helped fuel her success, but acknowledges the lack of women – and lack of women in leadership roles –in tech right now. She believes starting from the ground up and encouraging young girls to go into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs can help the industry,
“I really do consider myself lucky that I was naturally good at maths and sciences because all my teachers and parents encouraged me to keep going with it and that’s why I am where I am today. I went to university and I was one of maybe five women in a 500-person math course, which is a shame and why I think we should start with education at a young age. If we do that, I think we’ll see a flood of women coming into the industry,” Morton points out.
She adds that mentorship programs that pair young women with those already in the industry could help close the gap even further. She also believes a change in attitude and culture can make a difference as well, especially when it comes to males in the workplace.
“I also think that one of the keys of reducing the gender gap in tech and IT is the changing attitudes of our male counterparts. I’m proud of the men I work with because they’re so encouraging. They don’t treat the women in the ecosystem any differently. That’s very different from my early career experiences and it’s encouraging to see the change,” Morton concludes.
To hear more about what Wittman had to say about her career and women in the channel, you can watch CDN’s honouree video here.