Kirstie Boyle 
Product Strategist, Uncommon Innovation

Describe a typical day

Based in Calgary, Uncommon Innovation (UNCO) is the leading boutique consulting firm for new technology marketing and product strategy.  My role involves mentoring and partnering with Alberta’s best up-and-coming entrepreneurs to accelerate technology commercialization from product concept to market traction.  We practice lean startup methodology, applying a scientific approach to new product development. Fortunately, no day is the same and every project is different as our clients’ technology applications span the entire value chain. Technology opportunities I have worked on include data transmission for drilling applications, pipeline integrity risk modelling software, and novel water contaminant testing solutions.

A day at UNCO starts with meeting a potential user of a clients’ product to contribute to our understanding of the market. Then, while our Keurig is brewing, I will chat with one of the entrepreneurs in our office space, most recently debating the merits and downfalls of the new Apple watch.  Next, I bring my coffee into a meeting with MyHeat, the most recent startup UNCO has cofounded – an award winning platform that is empowering urban energy efficiency.  After assessing aspects of the user interface I quickly grab my gym bag for a spin class over lunch.  Back at the office I continue to identify opportunities to include in our go-to-market strategy before finishing my work day with a client meeting to discuss emerging findings.  My evening is capped off with a long walk at the off-leash park with my golden retriever to earn the glass of cabernet sauvignon awaiting me at home.

Perks of your job and things you like about your current company.

The best parts of my job are the learning opportunities and exposure to innovative thinkers.  Every project challenges me to broaden my knowledge base and to quickly get up to speed and become a market expert.  Also, the mentorship I receive from the partners at UNCO has accelerated my professional and personal growth and has inspired me to be more willing to take risks and move outside of my comfort zone.  Further, our work is extremely rewarding as we guide and mentor local entrepreneurs to help them build and deliver products that benefit and advance global markets, while achieving their dreams.

Proudest accomplishments both in and outside of work.

This year I co-organized the inaugural Walk in Her Shoes campaign in Calgary on behalf of CARE Canada and we raised close to half a million dollars – blowing away all our initial goals, thanks to Calgary’s generous spirit!  In case you don’t already know, CARE is an organization that is empowering women and girls in the developing world, giving them the education and resources they need to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty for good.  Our CARE Calgary 'I Am Powerful' council used the funds to support a maternal health project in Tanzania, purchasing much needed emergency vehicles to transport women from remote locations to CARE’s medical facilities. The success of our campaign ensures that women in the area will have access to medical facilities and this is my proudest accomplishment outside of work.

Within my career, my proudest accomplishment is completing my Haskayne MBA in Global Energy Management and Sustainable Development (GEMS).  The education and experience I gained throughout the program has been invaluable and has served to open many doors for me in my professional career.

Thoughts on the future of the industry as it relates to your field.

It likely won’t come as a surprise to hear that Alberta has the highest level of entrepreneurship in Canada and is ranked far above the G7 country average (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor).  Moreover, Alberta has one of the highest levels of female entrepreneurship. Why is this important? Because entrepreneurship is the foundation of job creation, innovation, and a solid economy. As technology innovation has enabled opportunities such as unconventional resource development and oil sands recovery to become profitable, it will continue to play a larger part in the future of Energy development for both hydrocarbon and renewable sources.  These are exciting time and the next decade will bring even more technological advancements unlocking greater opportunities.

Current community involvement efforts.

As I mentioned earlier, CARE Canada is an organization that I am proud to be involved with.  I am the co-chair of the Community Action Team as well as a member of the Calgary ‘I am Powerful Council’ for CARE Canada. The Community Action Team’s goal is to increase awareness of CARE within Calgary and to engage with the community in a variety of ways.  I truly believe that empowering women and girls is the fastest way to affect real change and to eliminate poverty on a community level.

Another Calgary based organization I am involved with is Chic Geek - an organization striving to foster diversity in the hi-tech and startup communities by educating, engaging, and empowering women.  As a Mentor with the Chic Geek I am continuing to enjoy building relationships with my Mentee and other ‘Geeks’ within the organization.

Why YWE?

YWE’s peer mentorship approach to supporting females in the energy industry is appealing and I am inspired by meeting so many like-minded women within this network.  Having the ability to draw from such a wealth of knowledge and support is invaluable.  YWE is an important organization to help increase the presence and leadership of women within the Energy industry and I look forward to continuing to build relationships within YWE.

What are you reading?

Have you ever felt sick of hearing about the doom and gloom of the future of the planet and humanity?  I just started reading Abundance: The Future is better than you think by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler and am really enjoying the optimistic viewpoint, supported by scientific source data. The book makes a case for how growing technologies will make greater gains in the next two decades than we have in the last two centuries and that technology innovation will soon enable the ability to meet and exceed the basic needs of every person on the planet – resulting in an abundance for all.