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Lisa White

“Mathematics, to me is . . . a subject that I loved from an early age when a family friend would have problems waiting for me when we visited. Success in high school math led naturally to studying at the University of Waterloo where I found that my first year computer science courses came easily and were great entertainment. Declaring that major was an easy choice.”
Lisa's biography

Lisa White earned a Bachelor of Mathematics in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo, benefiting from their amazing co-op program. Having qualified for an NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship, she then earned an M.Sc. in Computer Science (Artificial Intelligence) from the University of Toronto.

Lisa’s fourteen years of experience as a software developer started with her contributing to compiler and debugger projects at Watcom. After working in several aspects of e-commerce, she now works in the user-facing aspects of embedded consumer electronics. Lisa has spent the most recent two of her seven years at Kaleidescape as a software engineering manager with product management responsibilities, leading a team of talented software engineers who help to create category-defining movie servers.

Working at companies of all sizes has added another dimension to Lisa’s range of experience. From four people in her boss’ basement, to setting up a start-up workplace, to getting acquired repeatedly and ending up at a 1000+ person corporation, each opportunity taught its own unique lessons.

Lisa’s keen interest in the funding and business side of companies was sparked during her time at the high school entrepreneurial boot camp, Shad Valley, and further fostered in the dynamic spin-off and start-up culture in Waterloo, where she has spent her entire career.

The logical problem solving skills taught in Mathematics translate directly into the ability to understand, isolate, debug and solve technical problems in software. That entire process is fun and rewarding.

I have always worked with very talented and hard-working people who accomplish a great deal. After helping to shape product direction and working to decide how to implement it, I find launching the finished product very rewarding. At Kaleidescape, we also get to use the product at home, enjoying a rich movie and music experience with our families.

I travel fairly extensively with my family, swim during our short summer and do some skating and skiing in the winter. Waterloo has frequent, engaging technology events, including a number of vibrant groups bringing Women in Technology together. I enjoy attending many each year. I often participate on panels aiming to encourage girls to study math as well as take part in events supporting women already undertaking such studies.

When you have a great supervisor or senior colleague who naturally wants to teach you and foster your skill development, it helps you move forward. I’ve had that more than once. When someone with influence advocates strongly on your behalf, it makes things happen. When I look back, these people and those moments are clear. For that I am grateful.

Yes, my career has taken quite a natural progression. An additional benefit of the Waterloo co-op program is exposure to much of the work available in my field. Having three different co-op jobs before graduating allowed me to continue pursing jobs that interested me.

I encourage all people with an aptitude in mathematics and problem solving to study computer science. It can lead to a wide variety of challenging and enjoyable careers. The credentials you earn and skills you learn can be applied in so many different fields, allowing you to transition as your interests change and the world advances.

Through outreach and professional development activities, research, partnerships, thought leadership and online initiatives, we work with industry and academia to educate on the value of diversity for innovation, to inspire women to thrive and to celebrate the contributions of women in science and engineering.
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