Advice for Women in Tech: How to Turn a Coffee Chat Into a Career Gamechanger 

By: Teresa Sing (edited by Zeynep Guler Tuck), July 18 2022

Teresa Sing has been described as, “a master connecter.” Her colleague, Cindy Guyon, shares the advice Teresa imparted to her, “The most valuable piece of advice [Teresa Sing] has given me as a mentor and mentee, is to make room to offer 15 minutes to anyone. Chances are, if they are reaching out to you, there is a reason. Take a few minutes to listen and offer a small bit of advice or a connection. Something this simple can change someone’s direction and even their lives.” Could the “quick coffee chat” help woman in tech level up in their careers? Teresa’s advice signals, “yes!”

A multi-hyphenate, Teresa leads in the areas of operations, business development, and as a senior mentor, as well as a junior valuation analyst. Being a woman in tech, she has worked for IBM and various organizations that support startups seeking funding. She also manages to find time to give back to the community as a volunteer for FIRST Robotics Canada, inspiring high school students to pursue their STEM interests by learning robotic design, construction, business, and presentation skills.

Teresa Sing

Tell us about why you chose to work in tech & innovation.

I got into tech somewhat by chance. In my last year of middle school, a family friend spoke about his work overseeing a network of computers globally, and I found the idea fascinating. I didn’t know what computers were at that time, just the word and concept intrigued me. I later discovered the high school I attended had computer courses. I signed up and was one of the few females in the class. In the third year, graduating year, I think I may have been the only female. I now realize how fortunate I was to have a female teacher those years, and a [woman] of colour. I have so much to thank her for. 

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What kinds of barriers have you overcome as a woman in tech?

The barriers I had to overcome started with my high school guidance counsellor who said my career choice was probably not suited to computer studies and suggested alternative administrative roles. Administrative roles are equally important, but I was interested in the world of computers and to discover different career paths. 

I applied and got into a computer programming and analysis program, and again, only a few women. I then applied and got in the early days of co-op jobs with IBM Canada and excelled brilliantly, finding some women on each team. Looking back, I didn’t realize how few women there really were. They were great mentors who took me under their wings. We stand on the shoulders of many women before us and we must continue mentoring where we can look in the rearview mirror and pay it forward. 

Once I entered the workforce, I did see more women in project management and technical writer roles. I did have many women to work with, but not too many as programmers or quality assurance analysts. I did have to be assertive in meetings and interactions with my male colleagues because I wanted to be sure I was taken as an equally-qualified contributor, even though it was early in my career as my knowledge and experience was growing. 

“It is important to do your homework, be prepared and understand the information you are working with. When you sit at the table with your colleagues, management, and peers, speak with knowledge and a confident, informative voice.”

Teresa Sing

What advice do you have for other women in tech facing barriers?

It is important to do your homework, be prepared and understand the information you are working with. When you sit at the table with your colleagues, management, and peers, speak with knowledge and a confident, informative voice. 

Is there a woman mentor you’d like to nominate for an upcoming series?

I would like to nominate Cindy Guyon, LinkingVentures Founder and CEO and Idas Levato WERKTO Founder, Innovative Business Development Leader.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I have so many stories where I reflect and realize the tipping points others and I played. There have been many forks in the road and each could play out so differently but only in reflecting do I realize the part I played in a conversation or an introduction, being a 15-minute conversation to turn what seems impossible to probable and then to possible. 

Teresa Sing was nominated by a peer as part of the Elevate Great Women series that recognizes and amplifies the influence of women mentors who have made an impact on their communities.

Want to grow your community of women in tech? Women in tech, women founders & investors, as well as gender-diverse business owners and professionals in tech will enjoy curated experiences at this year’s Elevate Festival. With a dedicated, inclusive Women in Tech Lounge, curated programming, exclusive networking opportunities, and meetings with Canada’s top investors and funders, don’t miss the full Women in Tech Experience at Elevate Festival 2023.

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