Submitted by McDonald's Corporation
Lara Skripitsky is on a mission to empower women in technology.
From a young age, Lara always “had an appetite for innovation and an interest in the emerging world of technology.” Fast forward to 2022, Lara is now the Vice President, Chief Technology and Operations Support Officer of McDonald’s Canada, and Co-chair of McDonald’s Global Women in Technology (GWIT).
From a liberal arts degree to a tech career
Lara’s path to becoming a technology leader may be surprising to some. She graduated from Queens University with a Women’s Studies and English degree, followed by an MBA from the University of Western Ontario. After a role in CPG marketing, she followed her passion for the internet and transformation, working at several companies to help shape their digital strategy, including launching Canada’s first online streaming service.
She joined McDonald’s as Director of Digital in 2015. Lara didn’t expect to land a career in technology because she didn’t have formal tech training. As part of her mission to bring more women into the field, she is actively trying to dispel the misconception that you need a STEM background to break into the industry.
“There’s often this notion that ‘Oh I don’t have experience’ or ‘I don’t have a STEM background,’ she says. “For example, in McDonald’s Canada, we’ve brought on folks from the operations team who have no experience in technology but have become outstanding team members. Don’t say no because you don’t think you have the qualifications,” she says.
Lara’s career in technology has been fulfilling. She’s helped to transform customer and crew experiences with digital and technical innovations.
“It’s exciting to drive positive change,” she says. “To enhance convenience, we’re integrating a new feature where customers can earn loyalty points, order, and pay for delivery within the McDonald’s app. It was a huge win for the team, and technology was at the core of this cross-functional effort.”
Using her platform
Since joining McDonald’s Canada, Lara has used her platform to support women in the tech industry. One of her proudest achievements was co-founding McDonald’s Global Women in Technology (GWIT)—an internal employee business network focused on uplifting and empowering women technologists across McDonald’s Global Technology and beyond.
“GWIT has been my passion project. We started as a group in Canada just before the pandemic hit in 2019,” she says. It has been gratifying to see how this network has been embraced. So many people have put their hands up and done fantastic work.”
Among other things, GWIT engages with the women in the technology community at McDonald’s through a speaker series featuring female tech leaders, growth circles offering mentorship, and an ongoing male allies initiative.
Despite technology being a historically male-dominated field, Lara has noticed more female leaders emerging at McDonald’s.
“When I look at my team today, I have a powerful group of female leaders in the Canadian technology organization,” she says.
“McDonald’s is committed to developing female technologists as business leaders. Technology sits at the heart of everything we do, and our future leaders will need to understand technology as a fundamental discipline.”
Opening doors for future female leaders
Outside of GWIT, Lara encourages everyone to help build female leaders in technology and break barriers for women in the industry.
“I think mentoring plays a key role. Many seasoned professionals have benefitted from mentors themselves, so paying it forward and helping somebody shape their career plan and path is important,” she says.
“Additionally, celebrating the success of female technologists by bringing forward their accomplishments and recognizing them is critical. We also need a very thoughtful approach when building teams and organizations and keeping a keen eye on diversity.”
Lara also shared her advice for women looking to start their careers in technology.
“Take a leap of faith. Being curious and having an appetite for learning can help you break into technology. Look for what interests you, where you think you have growth potential, and roll up your sleeves and jump in feet first.”
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McDonald’s is the world’s leading global foodservice retailer with nearly 40,000 locations in over 100 countries. Approximately 95% of McDonald’s restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by independent local business owners.
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