During her impressive career spanning over 22 years, Nicole Mumford has helped many people break down barriers to achieve success.
In 2014, she cofounded AirGate Technologies to bring cloud solutions to enterprises around the world.
Thanks to its rapid growth, the Toronto-based services provider has become one of Microsoft’s leading partners. Today, Mumford’s team helps thousands of customers move data to Microsoft Azure, one of the world’s biggest cloud providers.
Beyond its innovative approach to cloud transformation, AirGate’s primary goal has always been to prioritize diversity and inclusiveness. Mumford has made it her mission to build a culture where everyone can achieve their true potential. Pursuing a career in a male-dominated industry has come with its own set of obstacles, and she is now determined to eliminate anything that prevents talented people from being as successful as they should be.
“One of the reasons I started a company was because I felt that there was a real opportunity to create a culture that was completely focused on inclusion and equality so that everybody could be their best selves,” she told Channel Daily News.
This approach quickly resulted in a diverse workforce, with employees from all over the world and multiple backgrounds, languages and religions. The company then took it a step further by hiring individuals with neurodiversity, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder.
These employees currently work actively in the field with customers and contribute to developing some of the most sophisticated technologies.
Seeing diversity from all angles
While Canadian companies increasingly promote diversity and inclusion in their hiring process, the neurodiverse population remains a widely untapped talent pool.
Across the country, several positions go unfilled because individuals with an intellectual disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder are not considered potential candidates. A 2015 survey conducted by the Angus Reid Institute and the Rick Hansen Foundation revealed that most Canadians think it is “understandable” if organizations feel it’s risky to hire people with disabilities.
Mumford strives to change this perception among business leaders. She has long believed that different perspectives bring value to problem-solving, which is at the core of what AirGate does as a system integrator and service provider. “We solve problems for our customers relative to the most complex workloads in the Microsoft ecosystem. To do that effectively, we need to bring different perspectives to the team. We need different ways of thinking about things like natural language processing, for example.”
Removing barriers through active dialogue
To create AirGate’s inclusive atmosphere, Mumford and her team keep an open dialogue about what inclusion and belonging mean. They make sure that employees are comfortable having that conversation, not only with management but also with each other.
They then take the discussion to the next level by asking hires what they want to achieve within the company, and what skills they need to develop to play that role. “Whether those are professional skills, technology skills, consulting skills, and more, we ask ourselves what we can do to help employees develop into being their best selves,” Mumford explained. “I think that when we make it okay to talk about challenges, about how negative things might feel as well as positive ones, then we take the stigma out of those situations and make it much easier for people to do the things that matter the most to them, which fundamentally are great for the business as well.”
While she acknowledges that there is still a lot to do to foster inclusiveness in the tech community, she finds it extremely gratifying to see changes happening in the industry and the ripple effect on customers and partners across the channel. “I’m so enthusiastic about what this great community is going to continue to do. And I can’t wait to come and bring that game every single day and continue to do whatever I can to make a difference.”