Willis News

Willis College announces prestigious new scholarship for women in technology as part of 150th anniversary 

May 2, 2016

The Jim Watson Women in Technology Scholarship worth $150,000

Opportunities for women in technology just became more exciting thanks to Willis College announcing the prestigious new Jim Watson Women in Technology Scholarship (the Scholarship) as part of its 150th anniversary celebrations.

Over the next three years, six Scholarships valued at a total of $150,000 will be awarded to women who pursue education in cybersecurity at Willis College in Ottawa. Three of the six awards will be dedicated to Indigenous female students who enroll in the program.

Willis College, Canada’s first regulated career college established in 1866, and Mayor Watson are proud to have a shared commitment of empowering women and Indigenous youth in Canada. Willis College named the Scholarship in appreciation of Mayor Watson’s work to promote technology careers in Ottawa and also empower women in the sector.

The Scholarship will be administered by the newly appointed Board of Trustees. Comprised of community and sector leaders, this Board will convene annually to evaluate and award the candidates.

Mayor Watson will officially accept the Scholarship at the Spring 2016 graduation ceremony where he will be awarded a genuine Inukshuk statue, symbolic of the important role that Indigenous people play in Canada’s cultural mosaic. This presentation will take place on the evening of May 19, 2016.

Applications for the 2016 Scholarships will open May 19, 2016 and will be accepted until July 1, 2016. Successful recipients will be advised prior to the start of the fall semester.


“As a part of our 150th anniversary celebrations at Willis College, we are delighted to announce the new Jim Watson Women in Technology Scholarship, valued at $150,000, that will encourage more women to pursue careers in technology. We are particularly pleased to dedicate three of these awards to Indigenous students. By producing a pipeline of expert cybersecurity talent, Willis College is helping play a role in meeting the global needs of the technology sector both today and in the future.”

Rima Aristocrat, President and CEO, Willis College

“It is an honour to accept the namesake for this scholarship from Willis College, and I hope more talented young women are encouraged to enter the cybersecurity sector with the financial help it offers. Education is the key to a better tomorrow for our young people and to addressing skills requirements by our businesses. Initiatives like this make a difference in Ottawa, and throughout Canada, and I congratulate Willis College for helping to lead the way.”

Mayor Jim Watson


For interview with Willis College President Rima Aristocrat
please call 613-233-1128 or email



  • Applications for 2016-2017 will open on May 19, 2016 and may be submitted until July 1, 2016. Information is available at williscollegecybersecurity.com.
  • The Scholarship provides tuition, books, industry certifications and use of Canada’s only Fortinet and Sophos technology labs for a one-year program at Willis College of Business, Technology and Healthcare.



Willis College

Mayor Jim Watson



Established in 1866, Willis College is Canada’s first regulated career college. This year, Willis College is celebrating 150 years of excellence in education, an outstanding example of the strength and agility of career colleges in Canada. With over 150,000 graduates and an outstanding faculty, Willis College is proud to be a pipeline for producing some of Canada’s top talent. Complemented by our ground-breaking industry partnerships, we specialize in employer-led, job-ready skills training programs in business, technology and healthcare that are highly tuned to the demands of a global job market. With an unwavering commitment to our community, Willis College plays a vibrant role in the National Capital Region, with campuses in downtown Ottawa, Smiths Falls and Arnprior.   To learn more about Willis College and our training programs, visit www.williscollege.com



Willis College is a truly Canadian institution and a leader in technology training. Our Advanced Network Security Professional Program is second-to-none with Canada’s only Fortinet and Sophos technology labs, and we are proud to produce a pipeline of talent to fill critical technology jobs and skills shortages. The Advanced Network Security Program at Willis College is Canada’s first employer-driven, government-approved and industry-recognized diploma program leading to full-time, well-paying local jobs through hands on network security courses. The program was developed in partnership with leading Fortune 500 companies in Ottawa, North America and the UK.



Jim Watson was re-elected Mayor of the City of Ottawa on October 27, 2014 after having first been elected Mayor of the amalgamated City of Ottawa in 2010. Mayor Watson has dedicated most of his career to public service in Canada’s Capital. First elected as a Councillor in 1991, he was re-elected in 1994. Three years later he was elected as the youngest Mayor in Ottawa’s history with 82% of the popular vote. Following the amalgamation of Ottawa and surrounding communities, Mayor Watson was appointed the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Tourism Commission, a federal crown corporation. In 2003, he was elected as the Member of Provincial Parliament for Ottawa West-Nepean and immediately appointed to cabinet as Minister of Consumer and Business services. In 2005, he was appointed as Ontario’s first Minister of Health Promotion and he successfully implemented the Smoke Free Ontario Act. Re-elected as MPP in 2007, he was promoted to Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. An active member of his community, Watson has also served on the boards or as honourary chair of several community organizations, including the Riverside Hospital, the National Arts Centre, the Christmas Exchange of Ottawa and the Forum for Young Canadians. He served as chair of United Way’s 2002 campaign, which raised a record $21 million. 



Namir Anani, President & CEO, Information and Communications Technology Council

“As the demand for skilled digital talent continues to accelerate in Canada, targeted scholarships to increase the participation of women in careers in cybersecurity represent an excellent winning approach. The Jim Watson Women in Technology Scholarship program, under the leadership of Willis College, is a concrete step forward to address the talent gap in this fast-paced and dynamic space.”

Michael Anderson, Senior Vice President, Sophos

“Willis College is again taking a leadership role in addressing major challenges that face the cybersecurity industry: the overall shortage of skilled technical resources and the lack of women in technical roles.  Willis College has a long and successful track record providing high quality training to diverse audiences and the Jim Watson Women in Technology Scholarship program will add to its considerable legacy.”

Serge Buy, CEO, National Association of Career Colleges

“Regulated career colleges play an important role in the post-secondary educational landscape in Canada, providing graduates with the necessary skills and training for jobs that industry needs filled. Willis College is partnering with companies to address shortages in the technology sector and we applaud them on introducing this Scholarship to help more students upgrade their skills and improve their futures.”

Janet Kennedy, President and CEO, Microsoft Canada

“Microsoft is proud to join Willis College and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson in helping to advance the education and careers for women in technology.  I am honoured to participate as a member of the Board of Trustees for these scholarships – to help empower young women to become leaders in the field of computer science and technology.”

Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard, President of Native Women’s Association of Canada

“Education is such an important mechanism for Indigenous women and girls as it empowers women in the ongoing struggle for equality.   The Willis College Scholarship addresses a clear need to ensure that women also have access to the fields of study that will allow us to be successful in an increasingly complex, knowledge-oriented labour market.”

Bruce Lazenby, Invest Ottawa

“Almost every industry has some challenge with skills shortage. Willis College has the best track record in the country for solving that problem. This program will bring attention to two major areas: attracting more women to technology and addressing the cybersecurity challenge as a looming threat and opportunity.

Jennifer Teeters, Director of Fortinet Network Security Academy

“The cybersecurity skills shortage is widespread and is felt nationally and internationally.  Fortinet and Willis College have an extensive and successful partnership to educate future cyber security professionals.  The Jim Watson Women in Technology Scholarship is an exceptional program to address women’s representation in the cybersecurity field.”

Paul Vallée, CEO, Pythian

“Increasing the number of women in the tech industry should be a top priority for everyone. It’s just good business. At Pythian, we’re proud to help lead the way with our talent management and diversity practices, which we measure with metrics like our Pythia Index. We commend Willis College for introducing this new Scholarship program to help champion change in the sector, and ensure we have a well-educated workforce that has the skills that we need for the future.”



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