Heather Payne: The School of Choice

portrait of Heather Payne
Heather Payne Heather Payne is a Toronto-based entrepreneur with over 10 years of experience creating organizations designed to help people achieve their full potential, with a special focus on the tech industry and those underrepresented in it. In 2011, she founded Ladies Learning Code, now known as Canada Learning Code, and in 2012 she founded Juno College of Technology, an innovative technology school that helps beginners transition to in-demand roles in tech, which she continues to run today as CEO.

What is your favorite item at McDonald’s?

I still kind of love a Big Mac. I used to at times also bounce-back from having a cheeseburger with Mac sauce. It was a little short cut to if you wanted t a bit of the Big Mac flavour, but till this day I definitely never got sick of it.

I guess it’s just in my blood at this point.

What were some of the key management lessons from that time?

One thing I took away from working at McDonalds was ‘if you have time to lean you have time to clean’, 

However the most important takeaway was the importance of keeping people accountable. There is a process in McDonald’s where one does an analysis of their team members, every so often. The analysis/assessment is based on appearance, whether your staff members are neat and tidy. Once you’ve come to this analysis, it is now up to you to relay that message to your team. 

One thing about holding people accountable, is learning how to be direct. It’s hard to do, but my takeaway was that even if I felt uncomfortable to assess others, I learnt that if you keep people accountable and you do everything in a kind way with compassion, it motivates people to make those direct changes. 


What is an income share agreement and how does it differ from traditional tuition?

Income share agreements is an accessible structure where somebody could pay nothing today, come to Juno College of Technology, get trained. Only once they start making money in their new career, do they start paying Juno back for their tuition, which they didn’t pay at the time. 

It’s a really accessible way of getting people to be able to do these career changes, without being burdened by not having $10,000 in their bank account. If a person has the grit and perseverance and we believe in you, there’s no reason they shouldn’t come to us and just pay us back later. 

In 2019, JUNO introduced a process of allowing people to pay as little as $1 up front for their tuition, or as much as you’d like as well. Once a person start’s making $50,000 a year or more, they start paying back at 17% of your gross monthly income.