Donna Litt

Inspirational Woman: Donna Litt | Co-Founder & COO, Uvaro

Meet Donna Litt, Co-Founder & COO, Uvaro

Donna Litt

Donna is Co-Founder and COO at Uvaro. As a dynamic and analytical leader, she has owned a wide array of functions – from customer development and retention, to recruiting and compliance. Donna is an author and STEAM evangelist with today’s youth. She invests in helping women educated in non-technology related fields find success in Canada’s growing ICT sector.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I’m the Co-founder and COO of Uvaro, a skills development and coaching platform that helps people have more fulfilling careers. I’ve been working in the ICT sector for more than 10 years, though my education and early professional background is in archaeology and nonprofit fundraising. Over this past decade, I’ve transitioned my humanities skillset to the tech sector and in doing so have helped build and sell an HR software company, published a fiction novel, raised millions in venture capital, and am currently helping to support nearly 1000 of Uvaro’s professional members.

 Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, I didn’t. I’ve always been more of a career dreamer than career planner– I dreamt of being a vet, or underwater archaeologist, or space explorer. In fact, the only time I’ve sat down to plan my career is now, at my current age. I’ve recently come to understand that I can plan for myself. I don’t need to be so flexible and opportunistic which is how I’ve operated to date.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

My sister and personal hero said something to me recently that’s stuck in my mind: If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing. She was describing her own personal philosophy but when I heard it, it rang as a fundamental truth. Growing up our parents would teach us lessons like, Stick to the plan till the plan changes, and, We make our own problems. I’ve faced many challenges along the way but I think that may be because I was taught to invite Challenge into my life.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Becoming financially solvent. Living month-to-month, incurring increased debt simply by living, was heavy pressure I couldn’t imagine being without. Making money has never motivated me and so I believed I would forever carry the weight (what was shame and embarrassment at the time) of barely being able to provide for myself; it was both freeing and terrifying. When I got a job with upward mobility and discovered an industry in which I could grow, I discovered security. My appreciation for financial literacy grew tenfold. The trajectory of my life was forever changed.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

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What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

People believed in me and took risks on me. I’ve always been opportunistic and willful, and those characteristics are great survival skills, but they’re not enough to ensure you thrive. I’ve been fortunate enough to have advocates and allies in all shapes and forms throughout my life. I would not be where I am today without people taking risks and trusting in me.

How do you feel about mentoring?

Mixed. The idea of mentorship has always felt sort of pretentious. It underscores power dynamics I’m not entirely comfortable with, but appreciate aspects of. I love listening to learn from other people’s experiences, and I’m always grateful when people are willing to engage with my questions. I’ve been told, coming from some conversations, that I provide mentorship. It’s never felt like that. It’s always felt a lot more like two people sharing stories and experiences. What I love about this dynamic is that it’s incredibly active. When people exchange experiences, they’re imparting lessons and knowledge to one another, which drives action and change for both parties.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

My response to this has evolved recently. In the past I would have said, access to education for women, or increased representation in leadership roles. I think those are two very legitimate strategies, but they’re already happening and momentum is growing. Now, I think we’d be able to accelerate the pace of change if we remove friction. Specifically, if we could do more to address the systemic and cultural drivers that create and fuel toxic masculinity in our families, community spaces, and workplaces. If we could reduce or eliminate toxic masculinity, I believe we’d see a dramatic uptick in the pace of change for Gender Equality.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

My younger self wasn’t always great at taking advice, so I’d be hesitant to give it. I’ve lived long enough to know that if I’m told to go North, I’ll go South just because! Given that, if I had to say something, I’d probably tell myself to embrace physical discomfort and be fearless. I think I’d hear that and say Ok, and maybe listen.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My next challenge is to plan my next achievements. I’ve never done that before. I’ve always just said Yes to opportunities, and then executed. For this next phase of my life, I’d like to exercise more agency and independence. It’s an exciting place to be.