Ria Lupton: Aligning actions with your long-term goals is the new #hustle
Ria Lupton was born in Pakistan and raised in Singapore. She worked around the world before coming to Canada. She studied and worked in computer engineering and information systems before turning her passion for community building into a full-time career. Now, as Marketing Manager at RIGHTSLEEVE and founder of Canadian Community Builders, Ria is focused on creating inclusive communities while also helping businesses build authentic communities.
As part of the #movethedial: Women You Should Know series, we’re sharing the stories of some incredible women in technology; stories about their contributions, insights, and how they have grown to express themselves.
How did you get involved in tech?
I came from a background in tech because both my parents were computer scientists. I did my undergrad in computer science and information systems, and my first job out of school was as a database administration intern at Yahoo! Singapore.
However, I didn’t want to pursue that career path. I always wanted to work in community building and marketing, so I used emigrating to Canada after my internship as an opportunity to reinvent myself.
I never thought I could merge both tech and community, but at the time community management at tech companies was becoming a big thing. While at a Startup Weekend event hosted by TWG, I met the CMO of Bitmaker Labs. We got to chatting and shortly afterwards I joined Bitmaker Labs as a community manager.
My big step after Bitmaker Labs was to become a B2B marketing manager at RIGHTSLEEVE, a corporate swag company that works with a number of startups. On the side, though, I always did a lot of volunteering. I’m the founder of Women Who Code Toronto, I volunteered with Girls in Tech Toronto, and organized multiple events geared towards women in tech and women entrepreneurs.
Most recently, I’m the founder of Canadian Community Builders, a community that supports and connects tech community builders and is aimed towards helping them build more inclusive communities.
What solutions do you use for overcoming career hurdles?
I would say there are a few layers. I feel privileged that I got into women in tech and women in entrepreneurship conversations early on. I’m a very results-driven person, so learning from other women about how they negotiate and communicate really helped me.
Now, when I want to raise an issue, I’m pretty direct about it, which is one way I’ve overcome a lot of small hurdles.
When it comes to managing volunteer activities and leading teams, I do my best to just listen to people. It helps me with another thing I am doing now to overcome hurdles: being less reactive and instead being proactive. If I can’t be proactive for whatever reason, I take my time to respond to a situation and sit on it for a while, thinking it over before acting.
Motherhood has also given me the pause that I needed in life. Too often we hustle in 900 different directions. At one point, for instance, I was volunteering for 10 different initiatives. I loved it, but I also tied a lot of my self-worth in the work I produced.
Learning to pause and align myself with the goals I want to achieve has been a big thing for me in the past year and a half when it comes to overcoming hurdles and making decisions. I believe alignment is the new hustle. You need to align yourself to your goals and push back against the glorification of “busy” culture or the culture that we work towards in which happiness is an end goal instead of a consistent thing.
#movethedial is premised on four things: connections, amplification, partnerships and programming. Which is most important to you and why?
Amplification. Specifically, amplification that leads to action. It’s great to tell stories of women and it’s great to talk about getting more leaders, but what does that lead to? I want to make sure we are measuring impact.
Putting more women on panels is awesome, I think about what happens next - are there more women on boards because someone saw them on a panel? Are they getting more career opportunities and connections? Are people giving opportunities to women of colour or underrepresented communities? Are we having conversations that are intersectional and involve more than one demographic? Is our feminism intersectional and what impact is that having? These are the questions on my mind.
I don’t want to be famous for 15 minutes; I want amplification that drives change.
Is there any advice you'd give to your past self?
I’d say: be a good person but don’t spend a lot of time trying to prove it.
Going back to my university experience, I faced a lot of bullying and was debilitated by my fear that my bullies would destroy my life. Now, I realize I was giving them that power and that I could have taken it away from them.
People go through different things in life and I know that we are all on a different schedule but I feel privileged to feel content with where I am in life now.
What does International Women's Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is a day to amplify women’s voices and it’s a day to celebrate. I think of it like a holiday in some ways. It’s a special day to celebrate women across the globe and I think that’s awesome.
I’ve gotten to know a lot of amazing women through International Women’s Day events and initiatives. For instance, BetaKit wrote an article on 40 Canadian women in tech worth following, and I was fortunate enough to be on that list and get to know the other women.
International Women’s Day is the day that a lot of publications tell stories about women that normally may not get the limelight. Those stories should be highlighted on other occasions too, but it’s a good step in a positive direction.