A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support, and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.
Our community is strong and growing with record speed and maintaining a connection through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic, we've got a plan.
Introducing, The Faces of #OKGNtech. A showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters, and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth, and more excitement. Follow along (on the blog and on Instagram @OKGNtech) to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.
Meet Erica. Erica Pretorius is a partner at Deloitte and leads the Telecommunications, Media & Technology practice for Deloitte. She is also the national leader for the Technology Fast 50™ program. When Erica isn’t showcasing new technology companies, you’ll most likely find her hiking around the Lynn Loop trail in North Vancouver.
What inspired you or drew you to work at Deloitte?
"Deloitte was the largest professional services firm to really work with the most interesting, innovative companies. In university, I was drawn to the information communication studies course. It was described as being a translator between business and technology. I still get to play that translator role. I’m one of those few people that still does what they studied to do, and I love that.
Technology is an industry that supports our culture and what we want to do in the world. It can solve really big problems and allows us to have the work/life balance we all want when living in a beautiful place like British Columbia.
Tell me about your career path.
I worked my way up at Deloitte but when the tech sector started taking off, and we were seeing more software companies enter our ecosystems, I gravitated towards them. Deloitte enabled me to focus on these emerging companies and try different initiatives. I did a lot of cybersecurity compliance work, helping companies secure their customer’s data. I felt like an entrepreneur within a larger organization. A lot of the stuff I was doing had never been done before. And once I was able to prove the value of my work to new tech companies, it was really about building a team that could support me. We took the model that we developed in B.C. and implemented it in Ontario. Now, we’re in the process of sharing our learnings from Deloitte and other tech companies in Europe.
How were you first introduced to the OKGNtech community?
4 years ago, we were introduced to Accelerate Okanagan. We were able to present on a variety of topics and really engage with the tech community. The Accelerate Okanagan team understood how to bring value to service providers and sponsors, which really helped us connect. They knew we were trying to get to know companies who wanted to be connected to the industry. Since then, we’ve expanded the number of people working for Deloitte who are living in the Okanagan. Accelerate Okanagan has been great in getting them involved with the community.
How do you and your firm support tech and entrepreneurs?
We try and bring best practices to the different industries. We have education sessions on a variety of topics: government incentives available to companies, cybersecurity and privacy, and business chemistry. The other big piece of what we do is the Fast 50™ program, which showcases smaller or relatively unknown companies. Appearing on this list often leads to new customers, venture capitalists, and potential business partners for those companies.
Why do you believe that it is important to invest time in regions outside of Vancouver?
The success of BC should not just be measured on the success of Vancouver. I would like to see thriving economies outside of the metro because it creates a lot more options for our people to work and stay and live in the province.
Can you speak to the value of mentorship?
Throughout my career, I’ve worked for fantastic partners that have spent a lot of time helping me navigate challenges. They’ve been great examples of what you can be, or demonstrated skills that you can develop. I think it’s important to have a variety of people that you can learn from but there’s nobody else like you. You shouldn’t just be emulating someone else. You should be using your own personality and developing skills to amplify your strengths.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, or that you’d like to share?
"My dad taught me, “each person’s opinion makes sense when you look at it from their point of view.” There’s so much division in the world, I don't think people spend enough time thinking about what the other person is going through."
What word or phrase would you use to describe yourself?
“Get it done.” When my team and I develop an idea, we spend a lot of time trying to figure out what the right approach is. My strength is in pushing the team forward to execute the idea. That way it doesn't just sit as words on paper."