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A day in the life of Penny’s women engineers, software developers and mathematicians

Blog DayInTheLife WomenInTech

Penny has seen incredible growth over the past 12 months growing the team 4x in the past year. Along the way we’ve welcomed some incredible women to our development team (and we’re always looking for more — Check out our vacancies here!).

In general, software development departments often have very few women team members — fewer women apply for the roles than men and then even fewer get the roles on the team. Then among women who join the tech industry, 56 percent leave by mid-career, which is double the attrition rate for men. This is something we’re hoping to change at Penny. Having a diverse team adds to our company culture and broadens our perspectives on how best to solve problems for our global customers, and is a key part of our commitment to Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging. 

Within our team we have female developers at all stages of their careers from a variety of backgrounds — engineers, mathematicians and even a qualified dietician — all working to build the platform of choice for the direct sales industry. 

With empathy as one of our company culture values, it’s important that we hire a diverse workforce that’s made of the best people. That doesn’t mean we’re looking for perfection it means we want people who genuinely care, who are good communicators and who love to learn. 

So to give you an insight into what it’s like working at Penny we spoke to the female contingent of our dev team to find out more about why they love working at Penny and what they get up to during a normal day (if there is such a thing as normal anymore!).


“At other companies I sometimes felt like I was rolled out as the token woman in the dev team every time we had a marketing or recruitment initiative. Whereas at Penny, I’m happy to take part and even suggest marketing initiatives because the Penny team is genuine about wanting to employ a diverse team across the board and not just in dev. ”

Paula Keohan, Team Lead, Backend Engineer at Penny.

Meet An La

Major sports junkie, purveyor of fine coffee and Senior Backend Engineer

An has a BASc in Mechanical Engineering and after three years starting up mines in remote locations, decided she had enough of dusty control rooms and early morning hours. Following a quick stint at a developer bootcamp she convinced an unsuspecting startup of her “crazy good” coding skills, landed her first backend developer role and hasn’t looked back since. An’s got an irrational fear of the frontend, loves all things backend and one day dreams of building a robot, combining her mechanical and software skills into the ultimate end product! 🤖

What do you love about Penny? 

“Hands down it’s got to be the people and culture. You often hear places describing their culture as “work hard, play hard” but often that ends up falling short in reality. Not at Penny though! Right off the bat I knew I had found my perfect fit when I discovered that most of the team were hurling themselves down mountains (snow covered or not) as a way of unwinding from the stresses of the day. Whether it’s answering questions about why my unit tests keep failing or giving me tips on how not to go flying head first into a tree folks are super knowledgeable and always willing to help.”

How does a typical day at Penny start for you?

“With lots of coffee and ideally no meetings until at least 10am.  Early mornings are not my friends and I truly appreciate how flexible Penny is with the work schedule. After ample amounts of coffee I settle in for a day filled with unknown challenges and awesome wins.”

Fun Fact:

I was briefly in the Guinness Book of World Records for “Most People Simultaneously Flossing Their Teeth”

Meet Dana Padoin

Junior Data Scientist, lover of logic and the beauty of the outdoors

After completing her BSc in Mathematics Dana was embarking on the daunting prospect of joining the workforce. First, she did one final ski season and capped off her tree planting career with some forest firefighting work in northern BC. To fund her activities and gain some experience, she worked for sandwiches as an intern at Penny while she continued to enjoy the first summer she had since the start of university and summers full of tree planting. As the summer ran out, she found she could work for more than just sandwiches and she was offered a permanent position at Penny becoming employee number 7. 🥪

Why do you love working at Penny?

“I love how Penny allowed me to learn about anything and everything I wanted. Being so fresh to the workforce, I had to learn a lot. I love that I am supported in all of my successes and failures, and that learning is accepted and encouraged here. I can feel my career progressing with the mentorship I have.”

What does a typical day at Penny look like for you?

“A typical part of my day includes solving undefined problems. A lot of my time, be it in code or in the statistics and analytics I pull revolves around more of an idea of a problem or statistic, than an actual problem. I find ways to create meaningful statistics to relate the ideas people from all departments have, or develop code to solve the problem and create something new in a logical way.”

Fun Fact:

I have planted over 400,000 trees to date!

Meet Paula Keohan

Early morning skier and Team Lead of the Backend Team

Paula is our amazing Backend Team Lead. She has a BEng in Computer Engineering and has almost twenty years experience in software engineering. Paula is also an active member of our Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging committee. Most recently she presented a talk/quiz on how different cultures celebrate Halloween around the world. Did you know that in Ireland/Celtic cultures people used to carve Halloween turnips? (Who knew!) 🔥

Why do you love Penny? 

“What I love about Penny are the people I get to work with. Everyone is so smart and enthusiastic. I’ve never worked anywhere before where everyone is so pumped by the work they’re doing and the positivity is infectious. I also really love having a voice at this company, where everyone’s ideas/opinions are important and we truly work as a team.”

What’s your favourite part of your role?

“My favourite aspect of being a team leader is getting to know people better and finding out where their interests lie. I hope I can enable people to enjoy their work and reach their potential.”

Fun Fact:

I’m a fully qualified Ski Instructor and I’ve taught skiing at Whistler Blackcomb for the last three years.

Meet Sarah Tulkki

Dog lover, dietician by trade and a Backend Software Developer

Sarah took an unconventional route into software development (but really, what is a conventional route?), she has a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics. Although passionate about nutritional sciences, she realized early on that healthcare wasn’t the career path for her. So she pivoted and made a career around her beloved hobby…coding! 💻

What’s your favourite part about working at Penny?

“I love Penny for so many reasons! My top three are probably great leadership (both within the team and the company), awesome coworkers, and a truly flexible schedule!”

What is a typical day at Penny like for you?

“Working with languages and frameworks that I haven’t used before is a typical part of my day. When I joined Penny I was confident in couple of languages and had some experience in others but since joining I’ve learnt so much. Every day I’m learning something new whether it’s from working on a new project or pairing with someone on the team – I love the range of projects and experience. Things are certainly never boring.”

Fun fact:

I love animals, in particular dogs! I co-developed the app Sox In A Box which helps pet owners and animal lovers find lost pets and adopt new ones. 🦮

Hopefully, that gives you an insight into what it's like working as an engineer, developer or data scientist at Penny. We’re always looking for talented individuals to join our dev team so check out our open positions

We’re a friendly bunch so if you do have any questions about a career in tech or what it's like working at Penny reach out to one of our incredible team members via their LinkedIn or drop us a message.

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