Session: Finding passion in entrepreneurship at any stage of your career
Thinking about a career as an entrepreneur? Everyday, more and more women are taking the decision to become their own boss. Yet there is still a large number of women who have never considered the option of becoming an entrepreneur or who may not think it’s possible due to their current life, career, or experience. My journey started with the goal of a smooth transition from a military career into civilian life. At that time, my best experience as a leader was as the head of the department for jet engine maintenance in the French Navy - I was 24 and in charge of 80+ technicians.
With my dream of becoming a CEO, or at least a VP in mind, I chose to do an MBA and at an entrepreneurship event at my university, a CEO of an incubator was pitching entrepreneurship, and I got hooked. At the end of the class, he said, “If you have a great tech idea, a tech co-founder, and half a million dollars, send me an email.” I sent him an email, and I quit my secure, full-time job to become an entrepreneur. I had found my calling, and although my first experience wasn’t very successful, I learned a lot.
A couple of attempts later, and here I am - the CEO and Founder of infinityQ, where I’ve led my team to develop and build computer hardware that can deliver on the promise of quantum computing today. Our machines can shoulder the heavy lifting of complex optimization problems, linear system and FFT calculations. From risk assessment, to protein-molecular docking, to significantly decreased simulation times, infinityQ is bringing the quantum-analog advantage to market today to empower the future. Founded, led and engineered by women and proudly based in Montréal. Most people think what we achieve is impossible with today's technology. But, hey, women handle the impossible every day.
My entrepreneurial life is defined by many amazing moments: when we closed our first round of financing, when we moved to our office, when I came together with our inspirational female CTO, and as we continue to welcome super exciting results in the quantum analog-computing space. Every woman deserves these moments and I’ll forever continue to promote and encourage women’s entrepreneurial journeys in the tech industry, and I hope my story does just that. I don’t see myself as an exception, but the beginning of the new standard.
- Don’t listen to people who say it’s not possible, no matter what stage of your life or career you are at.
- If your first entrepreneurial tech idea is not successful, take what you learned and apply it to your next one.
- Be aware that, as women, we usually suffer from the “good girl” syndrome and the imposter syndrome. Once you know that, make peace with yourself and just go.
- When possible, always promote other women in tech.
- If there is not a seat at the table available, it’s time to build your own house.
Aurelie has a multidisciplinary background in defence, technology and business. As a former Navy senior officer and head of several technology departments, she managed hundreds of military and civilian technicians in order to achieve a constant state of operational readiness and developed leadership skills, resilience and stress management. A committed and hard worker, she always enjoys managing complex projects and the challenge of working through difficult situations. She has an engineering background that allows her to understand technical problems. She discovered a passion for entrepreneurship during her MBA at McGill and launched start-ups, garnering knowledge and experience. She joined Mila, Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute in 2018 where she met Professor Jean Michel Sellier and launched infinityQ.