Opinion: From Geek Girl Dinners to Social Capital Conferences

When I first heard of the networking event Geek Girl Dinners Ottawa, I remember thinking, "I wish I had thought of that."

What a great idea: bring women in technology together to network, learn and connect in an engaging and interesting format. I loved the concept when it launched in 2009 and have a ton of respect for the founders: Veronica Giggey, Kelly Rusk and this month's Woman of Wonder, Melany Gallant.

Ms. Gallant is a 14-year communications veteran who met, and fell in love with, social media in 2006. Since then, it's been a love affair that has changed the nature of her career.

Ms. Gallant is currently the public relations manager at Halogen Software, where she manages and administers the company’s various social media channels to engage customers in the human resources industry. This includes blogging about customer successes using Halogen products.

Ms. Gallant started Women 2.0 in 2006. It was eventually rebranded as Geek Girl Dinners, an offshoot of the London Geek Girl Dinners started by Sarah Blow.

“There were bar camps and events happening in Ottawa, but there was no involvement by women,” explains Ms. Gallant. “We wanted to create a monthly event to get women together to talk about business and technology in a safe environment.”

The goal was to feature fascinating women and women leaders, and it worked. Their success was phenomenal - events sold out and people (men and women alike) loved it. And from this experience, Ms. Gallant has developed a wonderful network of impressive, interesting women locally; women she admires and respects.

Although Ms. Gallant and her co-founders have passed the Geek Girl Dinner torch to Samantha Hartley, the event remains dear to them. In addition to her role at Halogen, Ms. Gallant recently began volunteering for a Social Capital Conference, which is taking place June 1 in Ottawa. Given her love of social media, this is a natural fit for her current passions and aspirations.

Outside of work, Ms. Gallant is the mother of a three-year-old girl and has a husband who supports her passions and ambitions.

“Folding laundry is not a priority for me,” she explains. “I want to be a well-rounded person and that means not stressing about things like laundry.”

In fact, Ms. Gallant started her own blog, where she shares her experience being a parent, a working mom and a social media junkie. "The blog acts almost like a diary for me," she says.

So what has Ms. Gallant learned about herself throughout this process?

"I recently discovered that I am an introvert. Despite organizing the GGD events and the Social Capital Conference, I am someone who likes to be in the social circle but not the focus," she adds.

“It is my goal to continue supporting the Social Capital Conference and the social media community. I am still working out what the next big thing is and I am taking steps to get there.”

Fenix Solutions Inc. CEO Jennifer MacKinnon writes a monthly column, Ottawa Women of Wonder, to profile and celebrate local women in business.