On the morning we spoke to her, Michela Toscano (MBA 2012) admitted to feeling somewhat tired, having spent much of the night sorting out a problem for a client. As one of the only two full-time employees at the small but mighty “DevOps” company, IONICA, this was par for the course.
The idea for IONICA grew out of Michela’s MBA industry project. Although she had long worked in the “internet space”, undertaking the technology/marketing specialization at UBC Sauder took her to another level – one which gave her the tools and capacity to explore opportunities in what was known at the time as the “managed services” sector. Now more commonly called “DevOps”, these are services which provide high-level tech support to (usually large) organizations which are critically dependent on their software (think websites, databases, bespoke systems) working optimally and without fail.
Realizing that there was a competitive advantage in offering this kind of quality, personalized expertise, Michela launched IONICA shortly before graduating and has not looked back. Today IONICA boasts a roster of international clients, from government agencies to iconic global brands.
Michela credits IONICA’s success to many factors, not least of which is the robust business curriculum at UBC Sauder. As the head of a very lean organization, Michela is not only the lead “techie” but also the go-to financial officer, marketing manager, and recruiter, and – even today – still relies on the business skills she acquired during her MBA.
Another key factor in IONICA’s success, Michela emphasizes, is the value she places on occupying the moral high ground. She believes that business should and can be conducted ethically and responsibly and noted that IONICA’s business model relies on its clients’ absolute trust. Michela’s personal ethics are also reflected in IONICA’s philanthropic activities. Since its founding, the company has donated $40,000 to a variety of environmental, human rights and poverty reduction groups and has set a goal of donating another $40,000 in 2018 alone.
And if founding a successful, proudly ethical business isn’t enough, over the past two years Michela has achieved a long-held personal aspiration, to transition from male to female – her true gender. A momentous and challenging transformation which she appears to have accomplished with characteristic aplomb and good humour. “I was never a typical techie” she laughs, “and now I have an even more unique perspective."
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