Prior to this
National operational expansion, designing to reach and serve more participants, deepening impact, repositioning role of tech on a global scale, shifting narratives and addressing systems-design was the name of the game of my approach and involvement through the scale up of Ladies Learning Code → Canada Learning Code.
Canada Learning Code
National Director of Program Design
Carolyn led the national design team as the Director of Program Design at Canada Learning Code (CLC) to create computer science (CS) educational experiences for Ladies Learning Code, Kids Learning Code, Girls Learning Code, Teens Learning Code and Teachers Learning Code. Working closely with, managing relationships with, resourcing and providing leadership to multiple stakeholders including sponsors/partners, program delivery teams, her design team, learners and community leaders was part of her every day.
She and her team were responsible for developing curriculum, designing experiences and creating resources to have programs delivered across Canada, to serve a broader range of participants and for CLC to be part of more narratives across the country - with a focus on underrepresented, marginalized, underserved populations. Programs were designed to be accessible, engaging, hands-on, collaborative, relevant, creative and project-based.
For Carolyn, this was a way to reshape and reclaim narratives in technology, create space and shift perspectives by addressing both visible and less visible diversity and inclusion and fostering a pipeline of future contributors, consumers and leaders. Her goals included bringing critical skills to more people and helping to ensure that the historically missing perspectives, insights and needs that shape how we design technology, our understanding of our reality and the design of our futures - are included. And, helping to build this capacity within the organization and team.
Programs are being delivered by volunteer teams, community leaders and in-school K-12 teachers in all provinces across Canada - including in rural and remote areas - to those 6 years old to 60 years old+. Her team's work is part of 350, 000 individual narratives (and counting) coast to coast.
From clients, advisees, employees, employers, peers and mentees:
Director of Strategic Partnerships at Sampler
Carolyn is an outstanding leader with a natural drive to problem solve and make decisions fearlessly. Carolyn is truly one of the leading thinkers in digital media, strategy, communications and innovation.
Her curiosity, determination and constant need to be challenged makes her a force to be reckoned with. Her contagious laughter, positivity and deep insight makes her an integral part of any team she leads. She leads her business and teams with vision, passion and engagement like no other.
Carolyn knows how to move projects forward, drive results and empower and push her team. She is a great mentor and one of the best leaders I’ve worked with. She really challenged me to grow. I would recommend Carolyn in a heartbeat!
CEO & Co-Founder, Crowdlinker
Carolyn is a very knowledgeable, inventive, and reliable individual. We are really fortunate to have her as a trusted advisor on our startup. She has opened up many doors for us in our customer and business development stages thanks to her large network.
She is not afraid to be honest and tell you if and when you are not on the right track, which is quite refreshing to hear. We really love the way she tackles problems as they present themselves with an out-of-the-box approach.
Vice President of Marketing & Client Services, Drake International
Carolyn worked with me for just over two years and when she left we have had difficulty hiring a replacement because she had definitely raised the bar high.
I would describe Carolyn as having just a perfect blend of strategic and implementation skills. Known for her energy, passion and direct and "to the point" communication style I found her to be someone that I could always rely on to get things done on time and on budget. Truly an inspiration to me and the rest of the team by challenging the status quo, adding value along the way with her unique vision, style and focus on the business objective at hand.
A great person to brainstorm with, I always found Carolyn to be very creative, full of energy, conscientious and loyal.
It was a bittersweet day when she announced she was leaving to start up her own agency. Sorry to see her go but very happy and excited for her and her new venture. It’s no surprise that her business is doing so well and so fast as I’d guess that her clients are having the same great experience that I enjoyed with her.
Product Strategy Lead, Google
Simply put, Carolyn is great. While taking part in an accelerator program during the Fall of 2012, Carolyn delivered very thorough and thought provoking workshops focused on mastering value propositions and communication. The combination of her carefully crafted presentations, extensive experience, and relevant personal advice for each business was compelling enough that it resulted in our start-up company shifting our product direction.
We went from developing a product that people “could see” themselves using to developing a product people “will” use and that all stemmed from us making a conscience effort to hone in on the value that we were aiming to deliver to our consumers. This is what Carolyn is able to bring to the table.
Chief Technology Officer; Agile Coach, LeanIntuit
When we were planning the first Lean Startup Machine Conference in Canada, we were a week or so away from our go/no-go decision. And we had less than one-half of the registrants we needed. We were not optimistic that we would be able to move ahead with the event.
And then Carolyn joined the team. And wow, what a difference!
Through her energy, bold-nature, persistence, awesome ideas and wide connections we just rocketed forward. By the cut-off date, we had more attendees than we needed and she had expanded our (financial, community and media) sponsors to boot. The event was a roaring success and had the largest attendance of any Lean Startup Machine in the world. And I credit a lot of that success to Carolyn.
Carolyn is thoughtful, empathetic, focused and always knows how to plan and execute the next move. I would love an opportunity to work with Carolyn again … and so should you.
Content Creator at Unbox Therapy
Former student & mentee
I was a student of Carolyn's business course during my year at Humber College. She continues to be a mentor and advisor for my startup business and a great friend. Carolyn is driven, assertive and constantly challenging herself with difficult problems in the tech industry.
She doesn't buried the lead or sugar-coat anything; As learned from our discussions about my own startup which helped broaden my understanding on building a superior product.
What you see is what you get and it's something I really respect and admire her for. Her wealth of knowledge in tech and small businesses is the direct result of passion to help others and commitment in solving the very unique and difficult problems in our society.
I value my time with Carolyn as she graciously continues to provide insight, general guidance and support whenever I felt out of touch with the industry.
Ariane Deschenes Foucher
Customer Success Manager at Nulogy
Carolyn recently was my director at Canada Learning Code, where her support, expertise and trust had a huge impact on the success of our team. Working with her felt natural - it was easy, fun and stimulating.
Anyone would be lucky to have Carolyn on their team. She’s definitely one of the best leaders I’ve had the chance to work with, and I admire her strength, leadership skills and positivity. I would not hesitate to recommend her, and would love to work together again in the future.
Client Services and Strategy Manager
Parade! Multimedia Brand Experiences
Carolyn is one of the most dynamic people I have ever met. Her energy is highly addictive and her creativity is aspiring on any given day you meet with her.
Communications Lead, Powered By Data and Lead, IntersectTO
I had the pleasure of reporting to Carolyn when I first began my role as the Teens Learning Code Coordinator at Canada Learning Code. Teens Learning Code was a program Carolyn played a huge role in conceiving and bringing to life.
As she brought me onboard, it was clear to me how much energy and love she had put into designing this program and building relationships with teen learners. She was extremely collaborative and receptive about suggestions I had for building a more inclusive program, and was also a great mentor who sought out opportunities within the organization for me to grow and contribute to.
Account Manager at Mosaic North America
Working with Carolyn provided me with an opportunity to observe someone who is not only dedicated to their business, but who is also dedicated to teaching those she works with and helping them to grow.
Her leadership style gave me the chance to take on many different tasks, and she allowed me the freedom to take my own directions and initiatives when making decisions regarding those tasks.
Carolyn’s guidance created an environment that was structured around my growth, both personally and within the organization. When I was in need of assistance, she was more than happy to give me the tools I needed, but was also willing to step back and let me figure out the solution on my own – something I valued greatly, as it showed the faith that she had in my abilities.
I attribute a large amount of the growth that I have experienced since working with thirdocean to working closely with Carolyn. Her leadership and guidance have taught me valuable lessons, and the overall experience working with her has continually been one that is positive and welcoming
Carolyn is an incredibly personable individual who broke the ice right away. Her advisory approach focused on understanding our needs and providing appropriate business advice and mentorship. Carolyn's insights (in tech) she drew from her past client engagements were incredibly valuable in steering us in the right direction. Her workshops were always filled with relevant, useful and actionable information.
We are immensely grateful to Carolyn for being able to tap her extensive network of contacts who we have already started forming relationships with. We would recommend Carolyn in a heartbeat. Her charisma, wealth of knowledge, focus on results, and unparalleled professionalism have made her one of our most favourite mentors
Director Of Operations at August Digital Inc.
In the short time I've known Carolyn, her passion for tech startups packaged with her experience and drive to help others have been made clear. Carolyn's interactive approach to teaching others makes her sessions effective at not only conveying core points but translating them into personally applicable information and tools in our respective disciplines.
I personally attended two workshops that Carolyn led, which focused on Value Propositions and Business Communications. In both instances, she was able to not only convey the importance of both topics but explain how one couldn't be effectively understood or utilized without the other. Carolyn also reminded the group that simple is usually better when it comes to both topics.
I can say nothing but praises about Carolyn both professionally and personally. I excited about what the future holds for our professional relationship and look forward to interacting more with Carolyn in the near future.
Teacher for Grade 6 and 7
Sir William Osler Elementary in Vancouver, BC
Former student, 2016 prototype design for Teachers Learning Code
With the introduction of the new curriculum to BC, teachers across Canada were both excited and a little overwhelmed with one of the new teaching requirements; teaching basic coding skills.
I can honestly stay that I felt a little anxious to learn and teach something that I had little previous experience with. And, I was not alone in feeling this way. My colleagues also expressed trepidation; but, we were all excited to learn a new skill and to share our learning with our students. But how?
The workshop hosted by Teachers Learning Code was exactly what I needed. The message that I really appreciated was that we did not have to expertise in coding, but facilitators of learning.
I would like to commend Carolyn Van, Director of Program Design of Canada Learning Code for reinforcing this throughout the workshop throughout the pilot test. It was expressed that we should not feel like we have all the answers, but rather create questions - and problem solving strategies within ourselves and our students that lead to critical thinking skills and learning.
Head Product Designer at Ascended Matrix Inc
Carolyn is an asset to any organization. Her in depth knowledge of her field (tech) as well as her passion for innovation and strategy has helped us get ready to take our business to the next level.
You can count on Carolyn for honest answers and advice that will benefit you and your company in the long run. It has been a pleasure working with Carolyn and I look forward to her continued insight and involvement in the start up community.
Marketing Manager, Prismatik
I’ve had the opportunity to work and learn from Carolyn through many different events and workshops.
She is a strong leader and not only understands marketing strategy but can also execute seamlessly. With her driven personality and results-oriented attitude she makes a great mentor, who is dedicated to personal development and growth.
I would also definitely recommend reaching out to her for any social media hurdle you encounter and am looking forward to working with her on some exciting new projects.
Photo at the top of my page is by Fabian Oefner