Hi, I’m Ellen.
I was born and raised in Toronto by my Chinese immigrant parents. Because I was Asian, queer, broke, and broody, I grew up hyperaware of my intersectionality. I learned young that circumstances can be hard, and navigating them can be complicated, but complexity is no excuse for sitting on the sidelines of your own life.
I received my liberal arts education at McMaster University’s interdisciplinary Arts & Science program, where I studied biochemistry, economics, philosophy, and religion. The older I get, the more grateful I am for this education.
From 2011 to 2014, I was a disease researcher at SickKids Hospital. I studied cystic fibrosis in silico and helped develop Orkambi – one of four available treatments for cystic fibrosis today. To this day, I am proudest of this work.
From 2015 to 2021, I did product design and operations at Shopify. In that time, I helped shape and ship Shopify’s approach to sales channels, developer experience, global commerce, and in-person retail. Six years, working with some of the brightest and warmest humans, taught me so much.
Outside of work, I’ve built apps, launched a few stores, given dozens of conference talks, ran half-marathons (jogged tbh), performed at The Second City, played ultimate with TUC, made metal art, renovated homes, and was a digital nomad for most of 2019.
In 2021, I left Shopify to focus on health, learning, and returning to my maker roots. I also started a small design practice to focus on social impact. I love that no day is the same. Consistently, though, I’m led by curiosity, growth, friendship, and adventure.
My favorite quote is from Nelson Mandela: “may your choices reflect your hopes, and not your fears.” It captures a lot of what I value: courage, self-awareness, optimism, intention, and responsibility.
I collect bits that inspire me. Here’s a small collection. I believe what we’re moved by reveals more about our inner worlds than About Me pages ever can, or will.
Thank you for dropping by to learn about me. See my now page to learn more about what I’m up to lately. If you’d like to say hi, please do.
Find me elsewhere: LinkedIn, GitHub, Twitter, Strava.