Fintech

Debbie Gamble: "Technology ecosystem in Canada is strong from coast to coast"

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Debbie Gamble, Chief Innovation and New Ventures Officer at Interac Corp, is responsible for driving the innovation agenda and accelerating growth via strategic partnerships. Interac Corp. is one of Canada’s leading payments brands and is chosen an average of 16 million times daily to pay and exchange money.

1. When you reflect upon your career path, particularly is there a defining moment that influenced where you are today?

I never anticipated the summer position I took in a bank when I first immigrated to Canada would evolve into an exciting, challenging, 35 plus year career in the payments industry. After 16 years, my career took a major turn. I took a position at Mondex International, a subsidiary of Mastercard, where I became the Head of North America. This position provided me with new insights and experiences that established the strong foundational elements of how I approach my work today.

In 2001, my career took another turn as I stepped into the entrepreneurial space, co-founding Dexit, Inc. with Renah Persofsky. We took Dexit public in 2004, raising over $40 million in funding, including IPO. The entire journey taught me valuable lessons about perseverance and what it takes to create a successful business from nothing.

…allowing me to continuously help redefine the payments industry and what Interac can bring to the Canadian economy and fintech ecosystem.

The experiences I’ve had throughout my career brought me to Interac, first as a consultant, now as Chief Officer Innovation Labs & New Ventures, allowing me to continuously help redefine the payments industry and what Interac can bring to the Canadian economy and fintech ecosystem.

2. Canada’s tech ecosystem is vibrant and rapidly expanding. Looking back, which factors in your view have driven this expansion? What do you think can be done to accelerate this further?

We need to give kudos to the early players who helped establish, grow and strengthen Canada’s technology ecosystem. The founders of Blackberry propelled Canada into the smart phone tech ecosphere and established Waterloo as a worldwide resource for top tech talent. Ilse Treurnicht’s accelerator vision and development of corporate partnerships while CEO of MaRS has also had, and continues to have, a tremendous impact on Canada’s tech community. Today, we have organizations committed to supporting and developing our tech community: The DMZ at Ryerson University, C100, a non-profit connecting thought leaders in Canada and Silicon Valley, Communitech, the University of Waterloo and more. These champions have fostered our tech community, helping Canada become recognized worldwide for our talent and work and encouraging global companies to make Canada their home.

The founders of Blackberry propelled Canada into the smart phone tech ecosphere and established Waterloo as a worldwide resource for top tech talent.

To continue accelerating our tech ecosystem, Canadians need to highlight the incredible work we’re doing everyday. We need to share our work and our visions with our customers, partners, and the tech community on the global stage. At Interac, we work at the heart of Canada’s financial industry, alongside financial institutions, merchants, acquirers, government agencies, innovation hubs, and other tech partners – big and small. Interac has earned the trust of the fintech community and that is why we’ve taken a leadership role in helping it expand.

Ilse Treurnicht’s accelerator vision and development of corporate partnerships while CEO of MaRS has also had, and continues to have, a tremendous impact on Canada’s tech community.

3. Canadian Dream Summit aspires to a Canada where everyone is able to pursue and achieve their greatest ambitions. Three principles guide us: #VisionToReality, #CollaborateLocal, #DreamGlobal. Which one of these resonates the most with your work?

I can’t choose just one as #VisionToReality, #CollaborateLocal and #DreamGlobal are all imperative to the work my team and I do, and they all work together. On the Innovation Labs & New Ventures team at Interac, we pride ourselves on thinking outside the box, pushing the barriers of the payments industry to find new ways for Canadians to use their money when, where and how they want. However, those visions are only useful if they’re made a reality. That’s where #CollaborateLocal comes in.

Collaboration is imperative at Interac, and is one of our key values. Internally, we work across a variety of teams on every project –our lab at Communitech, Product, Fraud, Risk, Security and more. Further, we continuously collaborate with partners across the industry, sharing insights, brainstorming concepts, and working together to bring convenient, safe and secure digital products to Canadians.

#DreamGlobal also applies to our work at Intearc, though we are a Canadian organization. We speak on global stages, share knowledge and resources with international industries, and learn from our counterparts around the world. When we do our work well, it’s not only applicable to Canadians, it impacts the entire payments ecosystem.

4. If you had three wishes for Canada’s tech ecosystem in 2019, what would they be and who would they impact?

My three wishes for Canada’s tech ecosystem in 2019 are connections, celebration and continued investment.

The technology ecosystem in Canada is strong from coast to coast. Creating a connected ecosystem would allow us all to share our ideas, inspire our talent, and build on the industry’s current capabilities. I also wish for members of the Canadian tech community to celebrate their successes, locally and globally. Let’s celebrate our progress, our accomplishments and the work that’s advancing our industries. Last, I wish for continued investment in Canada’s tech community. To continue the work we are doing we need government and corporate support and to strengthen the public/private partnerships.

5. What do you see as a significant area of untapped opportunity for Canadian tech?

Canada’s Academic Institutions provide significant opportunities for our tech community. We have some of the top educational and research institutions in the world, studying trends and producing talent that will have a major impact on the tech ecosystem around the world. We need to invest in these institutions and the time to mentor the next generation of leaders.

Being a country that celebrates diversity and is based on and encourages immigration positions Canada well to attract and foster the best and brightest to continue to drive our digital future.

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Debbie Gamble will be speaking at Canadian Dream Summit on February 19th in Toronto. To reserve a ticket, click here.


About Canadian Dream Summit 

Canadian Dream Summit is the world’s only tech conference focused on energizing Canada’s innovation economy by connecting scale-ups to corporates and capital. This event is organized by Canadian Dream Initiative, a not-for-profit with the mission of transforming Canada into the world’s leading innovation economy. Dream Summit attracts 400 business executives and leading voices in technology, business transformation, digital disruption, and innovation, for a full day conference on February 19th, 2019 in Toronto.

The event welcomes global perspectives on issues of national significance in the economy and beyond. With a curated audience and interactive learning opportunities, the conference provides an intimate environment for meaningful discussion. For more information on Dream Summit’s programming, speakers, and sponsorship opportunities please visit https://www.dreamsummit.org