Building a tech career in the Kootenays

Nelson’s Tammy Everts address the monthly Tech Meetup on Thursday

It’s her job to say, “You’re doing it wrong.”

When Nelson tech worker Tammy Everts goes into a workplace to help them streamline their web operations, the first thing she does is figure out where the problems are.

“The thing about tech is that most people don’t know they have problems, or they’re barely aware,” Everts told the monthly Tech Meet-up during a meeting in the Jam Factory last Thursday.

“So my job is to do a bunch of research to find out that the problem exists, figure out why it exists, and then convince them to address it. I’m a problem evangelist — I’m the Cassandra with bad news telling you that you’re doing it wrong.”

Everts was addressing the monthly meet-up at the invitation of organizer Rose Hoeher, and delivered her talk “How to Build a Career from the Middle of Nowhere” while looking Zuckerberg-esque, in bare feet and with her hands in her pockets.

The audience pumped Everts for information, getting progressively more esoteric with their subjects while they ate chips, drank beer and sat cross-legged on the carpet. In the room were web developers, game designers and tech workers, all of them eager to hear about how she’s successfully developed her tech career while living in the Kootenays.

And, as it turns out, it’s been an incredibly lucrative field for her to be in. Having started out as an English Literature major with a Master’s in Publishing, her first job out of grad school was a gig with a web consulting firm. It was a random message from a stranger on LinkedIn that ultimately led her to take a position in Vancouver.

“To this day, I have no idea how we knew each other. He told me they needed someone to do content marketing, which is the first time I’d ever heard that phrase, and he said, ‘It’s in the web performance space’ and I didn’t even know what that meant.”

Even though she didn’t yet understand the nuances of the job, she jumped at it, throwing herself into the role while raising her two boys. It was the beginning of a haphazard trajectory that resulted in her picking up gigs doing things the average person — like her Mom — don’t even understand.

“I work in tech, but I’m not a developer or an engineer. I’m not a lot of things you’d be familiar with,” she told the gathering.

“For the past twenty years I’ve been working in user experience. I was an information architect a long time ago, back in the day, but in the past eight years my career has been funnelled — I’d like to say it was with intent, but it wasn’t — into a corridor of web performance.”

According to her LinkedIn profile, Everts is currently the Chief Experience Officer for SpeedCurve, which is based out of Auckland in New Zealand, and until recently she was director of research and editorial at SOASTA, which is based out of California. She’s also worked for Radware and Strangeloop. She’s presented her research at conferences such as IRCE, Velocity, Fluent, eMetrics, Conversion Conference, RWD Summit and

Everts’ first foray into web publishing was, a zine she ran with her husband John Paolozzi. Its URL has since been sold to the transportation app.

“We thought we were really getting away with something. ‘What a scam, they gave us $2,000 for this domain!’”

And that’s only one example of a “dumb thing” she did in her career that taught her a lesson, she told them. Since moving to Nelson to work remotely five years ago the company she was working for was acquired, but she’s continued to expand her skillset through networking and presenting her research at conferences with a global audience, building herself an extensive online network.

So could someone follow in her footsteps? One member of the audience asked if her experience was “replicatable,” wondering aloud whether a local tech enthusiast would be better served by moving to the big city.

“That’s the crux of what I wanted to talk about tonight. Even though for me there was a lot of luck and happenstance, I think you can reverse-engineer strategy from that. The things I think are replicatable, that anyone can do from anywhere, are things like building an online presence.”

Her main advice: “Learn from people who know what they’re doing.”

“For a long time I was basically a lurker. There were some hashtags around performance, in this industry ones like #webperf, #perfmatters, #UX, those were the big three, and I looked at who was active on those hashtags. Then I took it from there.”

Everts encouraged anyone wanting to know more to check out her conference talks online, or to read her 2016 book Time is Money: The Business Value of Web Performance.

After the meeting, local developer Bradley Higham thanked Everts for sharing her expertise.

“Major takeaway for everyone is to get involved online, put yourself out there and contribute to your niche! If you put in the hard work, you will be rewarded!”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Just Posted

Winemakers press on with help of Nelson Italian-Canadian Society

The society helped secure a transport of grapes, juice from California

Indoor pools in RDCK to reopen Oct. 13

Pools have been closed by the pandemic since March 16

Books for Kids fundraiser celebrates 10 years

The Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy’s annual campaign is in partnership with Black Press

105 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as health officials urge B.C. to remember safety protocols

There are currently 1268 active cases, with 3,337 people under public health monitoring

Orange Shirt Day lessons of past in today’s classrooms

Phyllis Webstad, who attended St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School in British Columbia, is credited for creating the movement

Greens’ Furstenau fires at NDP, Liberals on pandemic recovery, sales tax promise

She also criticized the NDP economic recovery plan, arguing it abandons the tourism industry

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Most Read