An interview with Theresa Corballis, Regional Ambassador of Technovation New Zealand
Q: So tell me a little bit about your career journey?
A: My career journey began in a very unexpected way.
While I was about to complete my Masters in International Affairs and Spanish Literature, in Spain, I realized – 10 years, I would not be in the career that I wanted.
The realization prompted me to apply for a grant from the National Security Education Programme to get my MBA in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Then I interned at the US Consulate in Sao Paulo and by chance was assigned to be the Telecoms Analyst due to the Brazilian analyst going on maternity leave.
It was all being at the right place, right time with the right attitude to take on a challenge!
I then went on to Silicon Valley during the tech boom in the US and have since been in multiple roles within the tech industry; Marketing, Business Development, Operations, and Sales. It has become more and more evident to me that there are opportunities for women in the tech industry, like no other.
Q: How and when did you become involved with Technovation and what does it mean to you?
A: I became involved in Technovation in October 2018. I heard about the initiative through a colleague and wanted my ten-year-old daughter, as well as myself, to get involved.
But there was no New Zealand chapter, just groups participating via an organization run out of Australia that had NZ as a “region” of Australia.
We know better.
I contacted the leaders of Technovation in the USA and set up an NZ chapter.
I reached out to schools, teachers, parents, mentors and industry sponsors, encouraging them to get involved.
After our first year, we had 75 mentors and 160 girls from across NZ (Auckland, Gisborne, Wellington, Christchurch, Palmerston North, Waikato) ready to give Technovation a go.
It was a fantastic experience for us all. But we are ready even more impact this year, with support from Air NZ, Westpac, Vodafone, Rocket Labs, TUANZ, Think Concepts, and Paymark to name a few of our corporate sponsors and TENZ from University of Auckland to spread the word about this opportunity for young kiwi girls, we are ready for something big.
Q: What would you say to girls interested in joining the tech industry?
A: The tech industry is an amazing place to find innovation, projects impact and shape how we live, work and transact – right now and far into the future.
We are only constrained by our imagination! If you can imagine what you’d like to create, tech can provide the framework and tools to make that a reality.
Our industry benefits greatly from diversity and a broad vision, we need more female voices to be heard in realizing the next phase of our tech journey.
Q: And, what would you say to potential mentors?
A: We all remember someone who inspired us as kids – this is your chance to inspire. You may be one of the people who change the course of a life and encourage them to greatness.
These girls are our future leaders, contributing to their growth is the ultimate way of “giving back”.
Q: Have you experienced barriers as a woman in tech?
A: I’ve experienced many barriers as a woman in the tech industry, and it took determination and perseverance to overcome them. Historically, women in tech needed to work twice as hard to attain success, but I believe that the environment is changing.
However, we still need to keep shining the light on the defeating mentalities that have held women back from leadership positions in the tech industry.
By having an equal representation of girls coming into the industry, I’m confident that we are moving into a more balanced and inclusive future and I’m excited to see what the future looks like.
Q: What advice would you give girls and women wanting to get into (or progressing) in the tech industry?
A: Be confident, be heard and persevere.
If you can, find a mentor – it doesn’t need to be a woman, but look for a leader whose message and purpose resonates with you and make sure they take time to listen and guide you. Look for the people that inspire you too; inspiring conversations often lead to progress.
Q: What advice would you like to leave with any girls and women reading this?
A: I want to leave with girls is the four C’s.
- Clarity – be clear of your goals and how you will measure your successes.
- Conviction – have the determination and focus on persevering on your project, and in the broader sense, your path.
- Courage – follow your internal compass, be authentic and be grounded in your values.
- Confidence – gain confidence through new experiences and knowing yourself – acknowledge your strengths and leverage on these, and recognize your weaknesses and work on them.