I first met Kerri-Lynn at a Travel Massive Toronto event. She had a big smile and exuded confidence – I thought, “that is a woman that I want to know!” so I started chatting with Kerri-Lynn and her awesome co-worker Nicole (what up girl!). They were both so genuine, open, sweet and confident. I asked Kerri-Lynn for an interview because she’s a woman that I believe we can learn a lot from.Kerri-Lynn McAllister is a digital marketing expert and a founding team member of RateHub.ca, a website that compares Canadian mortgage rates, credit card deals, deposit rates and insurance. Kerri-Lynn has contributed to publications such as Notable.ca and TechVibes, and has appeared as a financial and marketing expert in The Globe and Mail, Maclean’s, and the Toronto Star.
Mahsa: Tell us about your role as Chief Marketing Officer at RateHub
Kerri-Lynn: As part of the founding team of a startup, you wear many hats and I’ve seen the company grow from three people to around 40 today. Over the years, I’ve done everything from building origami houses as part of a PR campaign in the early days to presenting in front of over 100 people at conferences.
Mahsa: What does a typical day look like for you?
Kerri-Lynn: My day-to-day now has definitely progressed more towards marketing and management. I manage a team of seven or eight people. Being a website, we are very focused on digital and search engine marketing (SEM) in particular, and most of the activities, projects and promotions are built around that. I am mostly in meetings during the day and reviewing the progress of other people’s work, and finish my day with my own projects once everyone has left!
Mahsa: You’re part of the founding team at RateHub, what makes you interested in the tech industry?
Kerri-Lynn: I really fell into it and was at the right place at the right time. I believe in the 80-20 rule for just about everything: success is 80% hard work and talent, and 20% luck. My classmate from Queen’s School of Business was starting the company and I had just moved back from Belgium, where I worked for two years as a consultant in the diamond industry. I ended up loving tech and startup life and could never imagine myself working for a large, bureaucratic company where you cannot see the impact of your work or get rewarded for the impact you make to a company’s success.
Mahsa: Was there a pivotal moment in your career that led you to where you are today?
Kerri-Lynn: When I first started working right out of school in Belgium, I honestly didn’t have the best attitude. I was immature and a little entitled, and probably a little confused about what I wanted to do with my life. When the diamond industry took a tumble with the financial crisis of ‘08/’09 and I was laid off, it was a shock to the system. I felt so worthless, and I knew I never wanted to be unemployed again. Having that fear in the back of my mind has propelled me to work hard, build my network and at the end of the day be very grateful to get paid for work that I enjoy so much.
Mahsa: What motivates you in life and on a daily basis?
Kerri-Lynn: Because I work in the financial sector, I’m really aware of my finances and earning a great living and managing my money properly is a priority for me. But money doesn’t buy you happiness, so I think it’s really important to surround yourself with smart people, and I’m inspired by my colleagues and my professional network. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what motivates me but I think it’s a mix of curiosity, duty, loyalty and achievement/impact.
Mahsa: You’re a Women in Leadership mentor and a Big Sister, why is it important to you to support other women and women’s initiatives?
Kerri-Lynn: First off, there’s so much more that can be gained from helping other people than not. Mentorship is reciprocal: if you’re a helpful person, other people are more likely to help you too. Second, I’m a pretty confident person and I’m a woman, which is not as common as it should be. I come from a female empowered background and now work at a female-led company. If I’m able to impart any of my gained knowledge and experiences to younger women who aren’t as confident, it brings me joy and a sense of accomplishment for making an impact.
Mahsa: Do you have a mentor or mentors?
Kerri-Lynn: I have different mentors and professional contacts that I reach out to for different situations and advice. The mentors that I call on the most are definitely those with financial and legal backgrounds. That’s just not my area, and I have gained so much insight from them. I also have a couple female friends in tech and marketing, and we regularly compare notes and help each other out.
Mahsa: What advice would you give to women who are interested in a career in tech? Where should they start?
Kerri-Lynn: Start by going to events and meetups, and connect with people in the community to build your network. This will also help you decide whether this is really the right path for you. Tech and startup life isn’t for everyone. It’s very entrepreneurial and you have to be willing to work hard, be resourceful and take on a lot of responsibility with sometimes-limited guidance and under a little chaos. Then really invest in your resume and portfolio to make it stand out. Hire a graphic designer or use an attractive template. Tech is sexy these days and it’s very competitive to get in.
Mahsa: What advice would you give to your 20 year-old self?
Kerri-Lynn: I would tell my 20-year old self to:
- Work hard – people will notice. And if they don’t, move on
- Build a network (you never know when you may need it!)
- Don’t be naïve, look out for yourself, lawyer up and pay people for good advice
- Care less about what people think, not everyone will like you (still working on this one!)
Mahsa: What are your top 3 visited websites and why?
Kerri-Lynn: It would be silly not to mention the company that I work for! RateHub.ca is a platform that aggregates and compares mortgage rates, credit cards and other financial products from brokers and financial providers – from RBC to your neighbourhood credit union – with the goal to empower Canadians to evaluate their options and make smarter financial decisions.
I grouped these together because they are very similar. They both are focused on tech news, events and culture. It’s fascinating to follow other tech companies as they grow and I think it’s important to keep on top of the latest trends and technology.
Lainey is an ETALK correspondent, Co-host of CTV’s The Social and the scribe behind my favourite blog of all time, Laineygossip.com. She’s not your average gossip blogger, however, and is smart and entertaining. I love to read the blog at the end of a long day to unwind and disconnect from work. Plus, she’s a bad ass Canadian female entrepreneur!