Leah Mazur, a CRO Specialist, has been working within the tech industry the majority of her career. She recently relocated to Kelowna for a new opportunity and is excited to be a part of the thriving local tech community and for the connections she is making here.
Born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan, Kelowna wasn’t always on Leah’s radar. In fact, she only heard about Kelowna’s booming tech industry a few years ago from a fellow freelancer who recommended Kelowna to anyone looking to get into tech. In her own words, “my path into tech hasn’t always been perfectly laid out. Both my parents are developers, so I’ve been doing website development since I was 13. I made a lot of websites as a teenager, but when it came time to go to University, I couldn’t picture myself as a developer. I enrolled in Psychology and eventually graduated with a Psych degree. During University I took on a position as a graphic designer and continued to do that until I moved on to marketing, more specifically management and communications. I found that I really loved digital marketing so I began work for an agency doing their social media marketing prior to freelancing and moving to Kelowna. I assumed I’d continue to freelance in Kelowna, but then an opportunity with Straw House Labs came up and I couldn’t say no”.
Straw House Labs, a media buying, conversion optimization, and marketing powerhouse, is located in downtown Kelowna. Leah’s role in the company as a CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) Specialist means that she’s in charge of ensuring that the websites people are sent to from Straw House produced ads, are fully functioning to ensure users are able to purchase products with no lag time or issues.
Like most great connections, Leah’s introduction to Straw House Labs was a case of “right place, right time”. Upon moving to Kelowna, Leah stayed in an Airbnb while she was looking for somewhere to rent. It was through Airbnb that she met Isaac, Straw House Labs Director of Media. His mom was renting Leah the room and had invited Isaac over for brunch. The rest, as they say, was history. “Isaac and I got talking about tech and development, so I mentioned what I do and he thought I’d be a good fit. I came in the next day to meet the team and the day after that I started my job”.
“The best part about working at Straw House is the culture. It’s really laid back, but at the same time everyone’s passionate about what they do and are hardworking. It’s cool to be surrounded by other people, especially after having freelanced for 2 years. It’s really nice to have a team behind you”. Like most people who work in tech, Leah emphasizes the benefits of being surrounded by like-minded individuals. “I get to work with people who are excited about what they do and are good at it. There’s so much to learn from my co-workers”.
There’s a stereotype about women in tech, that it can be hard to make connections but Leah disagrees, saying “all my co-workers are great. I get along with them so well. It helps to get out and about in the community too. I recently attended a Women in Tech event and met two girls with a similar position to mine from Data Nerds. I think there are lots of events and things going on in the Okanagan, especially with Accelerate Okanagan. I think it’s great that there are so many ways to create connections. Even though I’m new to the city and the tech community here, I already see people that I know walking around downtown all the time”.
When asked about what advice she would give to people looking to break into the tech industry, Leah keeps it simple. “Get involved in extracurricular events and create your own projects. Do things and experiment. With tech, you can always be reading and learning. The industry changes so quickly, so continual education is key. I would also suggest keeping up to date on industry certifications, like Google Analytics”.
Come this winter, Straw House Labs is moving into the new Okanagan Centre for Innovation. When asked about what benefits she expects to see, Leah mentioned “I’m excited about it. There’s going to be tons of space and a new lounge area. It’ll be so great to be in the same area and building as other tech companies and meet like-minded colleagues that way”. We asked Leah to describe what OCI means to her in two sentences, but she was able to summarize in two words “connections and collaboration”.
We can’t wait to see where Leah and the Straw House Labs team grows, but if Leah’s recent move and quick success in Kelowna is any indication, the possibilities are endless.