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  • Writer's pictureNiv Lobo Gajiwala

Immigrants of Tech - Maithili Jha

Meet Maithili Jha! Maithili is the Head of Growth at ContactMonkey - a B2B SaaS startup that just closed a $55M series A. Here, we dive into her story, what led her to step out of her comfort zone and explore Canada as a place to live along with tangible advice for newcomers looking to integrate into the local tech ecosystem.

Tell us a bit about your current role at ContactMonkey.

I’m the Head of Growth Marketing at Toronto-based B2B SaaS company, ContactMonkey, an internal email communications platform. ContactMonkey has had some exciting, big developments lately - we were listed in Deloitte’s Top 50 Fastest Growing Tech Companies in Canada.  We also announced a $55 M Series A investment from Updata in December 2023, which sets us up to scale our presence to new geographies, and double our company size in the coming year. 

I started my career at ContactMonkey as an intern during the final year of my MBA at Schulich School of Business in January 2020. Upon graduating, I joined the company full-time as a Digital Marketing Manager. Back then, ContactMonkey was a scrappy little startup with 20 employees. As with most roles at startups of that size, I had the opportunity to wear multiple hats - this included everything from partnerships, webinars, podcasts, events, content creation, research, website, product marketing, advertising, and conversion rate optimization (CRO). I became a marketing generalist and was able to explore where my strengths and interests lay. 

In my role, I launched our CRO initiative in 2020, which eventually led me to my current position as Head of Growth Marketing, where I’m building a growth team to double revenue. At ContactMonkey, 95% of our revenue is driven by inbound marketing, and 85% of our inbound revenue is driven by the website - it's a big deal! I like what I do because in a growth role, there are opportunities to innovate and build my knowledge and domain expertise.

What’s your story? What led you to choose Canada as the place that you wanted to build in? 

My journey’s been quite an adventure! It was initially rooted in the desire to break free from the confines of familiarity but I’m happy to say that it ended up being one of self-discovery and growth.

Until 2019, I lived my entire life cocooned in South Bombay. Staying there had many perks - it meant being closer to my family, a secure professional future where I would eventually take over the family business, and the comfort of familiarity. I was and still am grateful for all those things I had growing up but I always longed to explore beyond. I wanted a space to build a life for myself from scratch and on my own terms. I wanted a blank slate to truly discover who I could become when there was no defined path ahead of me. 

As I grew older that feeling only became more pronounced. I considered a couple of cities to move to, but with an Indian passport the world isn’t necessarily your oyster. That’s how Canada initially got on my radar - thanks to its welcoming immigration laws. But as I looked further into it, I found that I resonated with Toronto and what it had to offer. To me, Toronto is a “choose your own adventure” city - which is exactly what I was looking for. Professionally speaking, its vibrant startup ecosystem was a great springboard into a career that truly fit - startup environments are where I thrive. That cemented my choice, and so far that’s all stayed true!

What advice do you have for newcomers who are looking to break into the Canadian tech ecosystem? 

Before sharing any advice, I want to acknowledge that starting from scratch in a new country as an immigrant is never easy. You’re entering a professional landscape without the myriad advantages of being a local. As a woman of colour, these challenges can be even harder. You’ve got to remember that it's okay to find this journey difficult, and even adversarial at times. It is equally important to remind yourself that you are not alone in facing these challenges, and proactively seek out the support you need.

Some of the many significant barriers newcomers encounter are the lack of local work experience, cultural differences, unconscious biases, and issues related to the recognition of their credentials. Understanding and acknowledging these realities is crucial since newcomers may find themselves needing to work harder to prove their worth in the Canadian tech ecosystem. If you are aiming to break into the Canadian tech space without much prior experience in a similar industry, you might need to be open to starting at an entry-level role or as an individual contributor, even if your past role was more senior or manager-level. The first goal is to get your foot in the door. 

If you possess specific hands-on experience that is easily transferable to the role you are applying for, use that to your advantage and hit the ground running.

In general,I can summarize my lived experience with some key pieces of advice:

1. Advocate for yourself: Don't be afraid to showcase your skills, achievements, and the unique perspective you bring to the table. Speak up in meetings, express your ideas, and make your contributions visible.

2. Build connections: Attend industry events, join professional groups, and connect with peers in your field. Building a strong professional network can open doors to opportunities and provide useful input as you navigate the industry. I I can vouch for the fact that the relationships you build will go a long way in shaping your experience on both a personal and professional level. 

3. Step outside your comfort zone: In a new, unfamiliar environment, it can be far too easy to lean into the safe and familiar. In my opinion, pushing yourself to expand your horizons, challenging yourself to do something different, and creating space for new experiences that might even feel uncomfortable at times is the secret sauce to intentional growth - and it is extremely rewarding.

4. Set clear boundaries: Balancing work and personal life can be challenging, especially when you're trying to establish yourself in a new country. Set clear boundaries to ensure you maintain a healthy work-life balance. This includes knowing when to say no, prioritizing self-care, and seeking support when needed.

When things get hard, try reframing the situation to see what you can gain from it - whether it is character-building or a lesson for your future self. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small, and use each experience, whether positive or challenging, as a stepping stone toward your goals.


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