chatting with...cybele negris

Cybele Negris learned to juggle at grade 7 camp.  Okay, maybe not, but she certainly does keep a lot objects in the air!  Cybele is a founding partner and President - Canada's original domain registrar and a one-stop convenience for the online needs of individuals, small businesses, nonprofit organizations and corporations. Cybele has diverse experience in both management and operations, including prior directorships and officer positions in several public and private companies. Before, Cybele ran her own management consultancy, working closely with crown corporations and private companies.  Cybele has been a recipient of numerous awards: Canada's Top 100 Most Powerful Women (2011), Business in Vancouver's Influential Women in Business Award (2010), PROFIT W100 - Canada's Top Women Entrepreneurs, (2004 to 2011), Finalist, YWCA Women of Distinction (2006), Finalist, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Pacific (2005); and Business in Vancouver’s Top 40 Under 40 (2003).

name three people you'd like to have a dinner party with. Richard Branson – he’s the epitome of entrepreneurial spirit and has fun doing it! I think he’d be a blast to hang out with and learn something from at the same time.

Depeche Mode – You’ve got to have entertainment at a dinner party so I’d love to have the whole band, but if not, then at least lead singer Dave Gahan!

Martha Stewart – Why not have the queen of entertaining at the party? I’d have her (and her team) take care of the planning, cooking, all of that. When it comes to the art of delegating, I say why not delegate to the best?

the path your career has taken hasn’t necessarily been linear – you tried a variety of different roles and industries, and ultimately wound up working for yourself.  what would you say was the biggest challenge you overcame, and how did you do it? I always had the confidence and the work ethic to get the job done no matter what the challenge was. Whether it was a new role, a new project or something I had never done before, I’d figure it out along the way. But the one thing that was always a huge issue for me was public speaking. I did not (and still don’t) like being in the spotlight. This fear was an impediment to me taking on leadership roles, speaking in front of the media or at public speaking engagements. I took the Dale Carnegie course many years ago and one of the keys to becoming a better public speaker is to just keep doing it. You need to get out of your comfort zone. It took many years and it is still not my “comfort zone”. I got to the point where in the past few years I was doing about fifteen a year and then last year it became even more than that…I think I did about eight in one month. Whether they are dynamic and engaging or not, I have huge respect for anyone who gets up in front of a crowd to speak.

you are the co-founder and president of the very successful  would you say there is an increase in the number of women working in the IT/web sector?  what can women bring to this industry? When I was President of Wired Woman Vancouver in 2006/2007, we saw our membership rising in terms of women who were looking to pursue careers in technology. However, many of those were in areas of marketing or graphic design rather than in systems or coding/software development which continued to grow but slowly. And the number of women in executive levels in technology were few and far between. Anecdotally, I’m not seeing a huge change since then.

Women can bring a lot to this industry. I hear often that women are more detail oriented or are better able to multi-task. I don’t like generalizations like this. I know plenty of men who are great in these areas too. What I think women bring is more diversity and another pool of talent who in the past may not have chosen technology as a career path. I would encourage young women to look at technology as a fun, high-paced, exciting and engaging career and not be afraid of the “lack of women” in the industry as an impediment. Look at it as an opportunity to stand out.

besides running your own company, you’re also a prominent member of the Vancouver business community and a mother.  how do you find balance between all the balls you juggle? I learned to juggle in grade 7 camp!  But seriously, I get asked this question about “finding balance” probably more than any other. Besides running, I’m Vice-Chair of Small Business BC and I’m also on the board of two other organizations, the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs and the Small Business Roundtable of BC. I was also on another board (the Vancouver Economic Development Commission) up until about a year ago and also chaired the annual Canary Derby (a charity event bringing together the Vancouver technology community to build and race soapbox cars to raise money for early cancer detection). And yes, I am a single mom of two young children and as part of the sandwich generation, helped my mom take care of my ailing father who passed away last year after a decade long battle with cancer.

So to me balance seems like this unreachable concept yet, if you put your priorities right and have the right team of people behind you to support you, then it is all doable. I’m known for not needing a lot of sleep (for many years I would sleep 2, 3, 4 hours a night for extended periods of time). I don’t watch TV and all my free time is spent on quality activities with the children. The rest is just time management. I do have a spread sheet where I have columns for each company/organization/activity I’m involved in and then line items in priority order of what I need to accomplish against each one every week. This helps me keep organized and not drop the ball on anything.

Every once in a while, you do end up with times of imbalance and your body will tell you. I ignored these signals for years but I am slowly learning to listen to my body more especially as I get older. After all, I need to be here for my kids.

why do you think YWiB and the YWiB philosophy is important for young women in the community? Networking, education and mentorship are key ingredients for success and YWiB facilitates all of these. I have personally seen YWiB in action having been involved as speaker, panelist and advisor. When you attend an event such as the Beyond Pink Conference, you can see, feel and breathe the energy in the room. Simply put, I recommend YWiB to every young woman I meet.