Geek Speak: Tea Nicola, Vancouver chapter lead for Ladies Learning Code

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Tea Nicola is creating opportunities for people to learn computer languages in a comfortable environment. The 33-year-old entrepreneur is the Vancouver chapter lead for Ladies Learning Code.

Founded by Toronto’s Heather Payne in June 2011, Ladies Learning Code is a nonprofit group that holds monthly workshops with a goal of supporting women interested in information and communications technology. Ladies Learning Code is setting up a new chapter in Ottawa and plans eventually to expand into the U.S.

The Vancouver chapter started up in August, and its recent event, Intro to Ruby on September 22, sold out. The next full-day workshop, Intro to WordPress, will take place at the Launch Academy (201-116 West Hastings Street) on October 20. Led by Web designer Vanessa Chu, the workshop will cost $50 and have a four-to-one ratio of students to instructors. (Men are welcome, but they are asked to come with a woman if possible.)

Born in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nicola is a cofounder of WealthBar Financial Services, a startup which offers financial advice and wealth-management services online.

The Georgia Straight reached Nicola by phone at her East Vancouver home.

What got you interested in helping bring Ladies Learning Code to Vancouver?

I have been in touch with Heather for the past nine months or so on Twitter. I am not a coder myself, but I’ve always wanted to learn and have been with code all my life. It just sounded like a really great opportunity to learn code. I would always tweet back at her that I wished they came to Vancouver. When they did, we got in touch and decided that it would be a good idea to just continue the chapter here.

What kinds of people attend the workshops?

People who attend the workshops generally either work in an office where there’s a lot of coding going on but they are not coders themselves, or are in the startup community and are in business, marketing, or something that’s not a developer. There’s a lot of people from the government as well that attend the workshops, because there’s a lot of buzz around web development these days. So the government supports this as well, and they send a lot of their employees to our workshops.

What are some of the events you are planning to stage in the Vancouver area?

After the WordPress, which is our next event, we have lined up a mobile-web event in November. Then I think we’ll skip December, because we tend to run workshops later in the month rather than earlier and it’s Christmas holidays and all of that. In January, we’re going to do JavaScript. In February, we’re probably going to do Python. So just generic languages. We’re hoping to exhaust all of the curriculum that Ladies Learning Code has designed in Toronto and then just go in a cycle.

How do you think learning computer languages can help empower women and other people who participate in your events?

For one, it sort of breaks the barrier down a bit. We do say that you do not need any experience. You just need to know how to use a browser and have a laptop. So the barrier to entry is very low, and we hope that people are going to be more comfortable joining, knowing that, even if there are people out there who are more advanced than them, that the class is really catered towards them. They will be able to learn in an environment that is comfortable and easy and targeted to the beginners.

Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? You can tell Stephen Hui on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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