DMZ is a business incubator for technology startups that helps companies build a product, a service or grow and scale their companies faster than they could on their own.

Through the DMZ, entrepreneurs get access to mentors, funding and potential customers for their product or service. DMZ is located at the heart of downtown Toronto in a 35,000 square foot space at Yonge and Dundas and currently support 60 companies.ranging from #fintech start ups to social media analytics, transportation and retail. DMZ is the #1 business incubator in North America.

Krysten Connely is responsible for the design, implementation, and management of marketing and communications strategies, projects, and programs that target key stakeholders at the DMZ. She is working towards her goal of expansion in key markets.

We sat down with Krysten at District28 in Toronto to talk about what it’s like to be a woman in tech, what it takes to be a leader, and what the future looks like for DMZ.

What does it feel like to be a woman in leadership?
It feels really exciting to be a woman in leadership. I think it’s important to contextualize what sector we operate in, tech and entrepreneurship. It’s still quite male dominated and we have to acknowledge that, but there is an incredible community of women moving the dial and making the field more accessible to both young girls and woman currently in the industry, looking to move forward.

It forces me to continuously to push myself; to make sure I’m leaving a lasting impression in the meetings I go to, and a sense of responsibility because I’m in a position of leadership. I have the power to make change and I can work with other woman to make sure that together we are creating change for the industry.

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How does DMZ market its opportunities to young women and young entrepreneurs? 
One of our main channels is word of mouth. We make sure that our ambassadors is out in the community meeting and also programming targeted at women founders. We’ll design a six-month program tailored just for young women in tech entrepreneurs we’ve recruited into the DMZ, customized for their business to make sure they’re getting the support they need to build their company.

How did you learn how to be a leader?
I don’t think you can necessarily learn how to be leader, I think you just have to do it. I think its a lot of figuring it out and adapting as you go. To me a good leader is someone who can set a goal and is able to mobilize whether it’s a team or an organization to move towards that goal.

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When moving towards a goal as a leader, what are some steps you can take to get to that goal?
If we’re talking about our goal to have a larger community of women in tech, a step I can take is to put them in the forefront. It’s about putting a spotlight on women and showing what they’re capable of doing. It’s about having more women mentors and making sure that, as a community, we’re working together. Another key step is to acknowledge that there are differences between how men and women operate and make sure we’re adapting to support those differences.

What is your personal training ritual? How important is it to you to keep physical and actually active in your life?
Staying active and being healthy is critical but leading a busy lifestyle, being in a position of leadership, makes activity incredibly challenging to fit in. Recently I’ve started weight training, twice a week. It’s something I haven’t tried before. It’s as much a mental release as it is an opportunity to meet up with my girlfriends. I like pushing myself about doing something I have never done before and really pushing myself to become healthier and more fit.

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