To design human,
    we must understand human

    To do, we must be.




  • Hello. Chào.

    ENTP. I love adventures, to dance, being human with other humans, life, learning new things, thoughtful design, nature, the power of technology, the power of education, the power of us, the power of you.


    I am second generation South Vietnamese-Canadian. I was born and raised in Toronto and have been a part of many communities in my city: Jane & Finch, North York, Scarborough, St. James Town, "The Yonge & Eligible", Liberty Village, Little Italy, The Beaches (who knows their Toronto 'hoods?) My roots in Toronto run deep.


    I have been drawn to perspectives and lenses outside of my own since I was little. It turns out, I have always had a curiosity to learn about people and experiences that were different than my reality, where I came from, my upbringing, my culture, my own lived experiences.
    I've always been a black sheep; an outlier - whether visible (by the colour of my skin or the checkboxes defined by our social constructs and norms I occupy) - or not. And while this was not always easy, it equipped me with me - in this present day.  


    Throughout business school where I specialized in marketing - I had my first taste of a "tech startup". It was a wild ride, to say the least. I learned a fair bit - and in many ways more than what I might have learned in my traditional and institutionalized education. I stayed on top of opportunities and threats in my industry - and learned that my world was going to evolve and technology was what was going to power it. I chose to become well-acquainted with digital tools, including leveraging them to collaborate with others, share information and designing digital experiences. This brought me to teaching myself how to code. Learning and immediately applying my knowledge enabled me to gain expertise and thought leadership in digital communications. 


    By this point, I was no stranger to the lack of diversity and inclusion in technology - and especially in leadership. When faced with the opportunity to hire for my own venture, I encountered challenges finding talent that could apply their technical skills to solve problems and build the future. This further opened by eyes to the same type of personas that took up space. My frustration led me towards teaching in post-secondary - to directly impact the pipeline of future professionals entering fields of technology. It was then when I learned about the systemic impact our policies, health care, social constructs, education design, power, privilege, environment and leadership have on us. 


    I found myself wanting to make more of a meaningful impact. And so, off I went towards a path that involved education re-design. I was on my way towards entering an immersive formal learning experience on Strategic Foresights & Innovation as a way to further explore this. 


    And then something happened that the most world-renowned,
    well-regarded Masters or PHD doesn't stand a chance in equipping someone with. I got sick. Real sick. The big C sick. And this changed everything...


    The unraveling continues.


    Canada Learning Code

    Director, Program Design

    Carolyn boldly and fearlessly spreads the message that we can shape whatever reality and experience we can dream of. At Canada Learning Code, it's through the power of technology. She believes that learning computational thinking skills equips us with the tools, knowledge, cognitive abilities, perspectives and mindset to create change.


    She and her team wants us all to grow beyond being consumers (of technology) - in to creators of a better future with technology as a mighty problem solving tool.


    Carolyn oversees the design of beginner-friendly technology education for learners across Canada through Ladies Learning Code, Kids Learning Code, Girls Learning Code, Teens Learning Code and Teachers Learning Code. With the Canada Learning Code vision in mind, Carolyn is working on designing, building, growing, partnering with accessible technical education experiences for Canadians. She wants all Canadians to eventually be able to take part in the ever evolving and growing digital world.


    Feature on Move The Dial




    Often solutions to problems are approached in a fragmented and silo-ed manner. The lack of conversation and collaboration often results in surface level solutions to off-target problems. My need to get down to the root of problems and constant tendency to connect the dots led me towards co-creating and co-managing XConnect. XConnect was an open multimedia content platform that housed conversations around the role and impact of technology and interactive media on various industries with customer insights, needs and experiences at the forefront. My role involved developing series and content themes, designing online and offline experiences, sourcing and connecting with industry innovators and leaders, producing content, event management, partnership management, sales strategies and building and growing communities.


    Industries covered included Education (see video recap), Finance, Healthcare, Film, Gaming, Fashion and Sports.




    As technology and the web have become more accessible over the years, people have been mobilized with the tools, information and inspiration to invent. Many jump towards building without sufficiently understanding the needs of the market. And others do so, but only at the initial ideation phase overlooking the fact that there are many factors that constantly change, including customer needs. There is a difference between what we are capable of creating – and what there is a need in the market for. Building with lack of regard of the later results in disjointed solutions and unmet needs to problems that still remain to exist.


    Lean Startup Machine is an internationally renowned 3-day, hands-on workshop that is designed to teach participants lean methodology by taking participants through the ideation process while investing in customer development. In 2011, I was approached to join the founding team of Lean Startup Machine Canada at a moment when the first debut event in Toronto was about to be cancelled due to low registration and inadequate community support and monetary resources. 


    After I joined the team, I identified key problem areas and implemented community building, strategic partnerships and communication strategies. It resulted in a program that grew from being on the brink of being cancelled to being the biggest and most successful lean startup machine conference globally.

  • Media & Speaking

    Reach out for bookings.


    The Globe & Mail | Financial Post | CTV News Tech Tuesday Segments | Historica Canada | Global Entrepreneurship Week | Mobile User Experience Group | Lean Startup Machine | ING Direct | The Toronto Star | University of Toronto | Canada Business Review | National Post | Pod Camp | York University | Ryerson University | Start Something Big | Women In Leadership | Social HR Camp | Toronto Product Management Association | George Brown College | Social Media Week | Media Planet | Talent Egg | Sage Canada | The Canadian Institute | Junior Achievement - National | Ontario Library Association | The Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto


  • References

    What some of my peers & colleagues have to say

    Tony Scala 

    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 digital marketing 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.

    Nitika Wahi

    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. It wasn't always easy, but she challenged me to grow. I would recommend Carolyn in a heartbeat!

    Yohannes Tadesse

    Technical Account Manager, 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.

    Declan Whelan 

    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 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.

    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.

    Aram Melkoumov

    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.

    Lorraine Chuen

    Communications Lead, Powered By Data

    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.

    Rachel McConnell 

    Retail Partnerships Manager


    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

    Andrei Arkhanguelski

    Co-founder, CrowdLinker

    CrowdLinker Inc. has had a pleasure of working with Carolyn as a mentor in the Driven Accelerator program.


    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 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

    Nataleigh Ballantyne 

    Youth Engagement Manager, Junior Achievement of Canada

    Carolyn hosted a workshop for over 120 international student delegates at our August leadership forum. She provided them industry expertise on validating ideas and knowing if your product is ready for the market. She used real life examples, engaged the students and had them leave feeling confident in applying their skills to a business challenge. Carolyn is professional, fun and approachable. We'd love to have her back!

    Jeff T.

    Founder, Roxi

    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. As a board member at Driven Accelerator group, Carolyn acts as a mentor to a group of emerging startups. 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 lead, 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.

    Lutfiyya Dhalla

    Marketing & Product, The Beanstalk Factory

    Carolyn is the ultimate social media SHARK, and should be your #1 go to person on all things social media.


    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 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. 

    Adrian Johnson

    UI Interaction Designer, Investors Group

    Carolyn is an asset to any organization. Her in depth knowledge of her field 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.

  • SAY HI

  • The stunning photo way up at the top is from where you ask? Can you guess what it is?
    By Fabian Oefner. Please give him some love.

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