When Tammy Auranen first began attending post-secondary education with the intent of entering a professional field, she didn’t anticipate at all where she would wind up.
She originally began studying to become an optometrist, but soon discovered it wasn’t for her.
It was then that pursuing work in a technological field was pointed out to her as computers and technology had always been a hobby, but she had never considered it as a career. She jumped on board with the idea, flipping her major to become a software developer.
The decision to pursue a field she enjoys is one that has certainly paid off for Auranen as she worked at GoodLife Fitness’ head office in Ontario for multiple years before moving to the Okanagan to run SunRype’s IT department. While with GoodLife she oversaw business alignment and project management, a job where she worked with each area of the business to find where technology could be brought in to help with its role.
One year ago she took the position of Manager of Information Services at SunRype, where she oversees SunRype’s IT department and all of its functions. Although she has ended up finding success in her chosen field, the move into the technical industry was one that Auranen originally had some reservations about making because she knew she would be one of few women in a male dominated field.
“I’ve thought that I wouldn’t be taken seriously,” she said. “When I started my role at GoodLife I was concerned because everyone in the department except for one person was a male. Even coming here (to SunRype) to run the department they probably thought, ‘Who is this girl?’ But I think that actually just motivates me to work harder I think that was the biggest obstacle for me, just proving myself in a male dominated world, the tech industry.”
Despite her concerns, Auranen has never run into any roadblocks because of her gender. In fact, she believes the opposite has been the case and people have wanted to meet the woman who is running an IT department.
“I think the thing that I’ve learned in my career in a male dominated industry is really just to be myself, be a woman,” Auranen described. “I think as a woman you bring a different perspective, a different style of problem solving. I think it actually creates a more well-rounded team.”
Auranen believes a great way to expand your capabilities and grow within your industry is to throw yourself into new situations where you can learn new skills and aspects of the industry. She noted GoodLife was fantastic for her in that way as the company grew tremendously in her time there, allowing her to be exposed to many different aspects and types of business.
One of those experiences lead to a personal highlight of her career as she was able to help create a fully automated gym that didn’t require any staff. That concept has really caught on in the past year as when she left GoodLife they had four locations without staff and they now have around 30.
With many years remaining in her promising career, Auranen has several goals she would like to accomplish, both of which she is already working at. The first is with her position at SunRype as she would like to bring new technologies to the company to change the way it works, and secondly to encourage more women to enter the technical field, something she is already working towards with the University of British Columbia Okanagan and Okanagan College.
Auranen’s fast career progression in a male dominated industry and tremendous ability to overcome obstacles and continue along a successful career path are what make her a Woman to Watch.
Crowe MacKay’s Women to Watch program is a weekly feature that profiles remarkable women in our community. This feature series is a joint initiative between Crowe MacKay, the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and the Kelowna Capital News. To nominate the exceptional woman in your life, email firstname.lastname@example.org.