Teresa LeeTeresa is the VP of Strategic Engagement and focuses on driving innovation in LPs and connecting them with portfolio companies.  She is particularly passionate about hospitality and sustainability start-ups.

Prior to joining RHV, Teresa led London operations at a unicorn hospitality proptech, Sonder.  She also has prior experience as a strategy consultant at the Boston Consulting Group as well as a real estate advisory firm.

Teresa has an MBA from Columbia Business School, with specialisations in strategy and real estate, and a BS in Hotel Administration from Cornell University, with a minor in real estate.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I am the Vice President of Strategic Engagement at Round Hill Ventures (RHV),  a leading European PropTech venture capital firm..

I had a bit of a roundabout way into tech –  I am from Silicon Valley and originally, rather ironically, I wanted nothing to do with tech, as I wanted to avoid following in the footsteps of my Dad, who was a hardware engineer! I started out in traditional real estate, then management consulting, and then ended up at a proptech start-up which led to my current role at Round Hill Ventures. Day-to-day, I focus  on driving innovation in Limited Partnership Funds and connecting them with portfolio companies.

I have an MBA from Columbia Business School, with specialisations in strategy and real estate, and a BS in Hotel Administration from Cornell University, with a minor in real estate.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I have been a big planner all of my life .Starting at school, I would prepare my extracurriculars to strategise what would get me into the best university, then I planned  activities and classes while in university to help me get a job after graduation.

We had a series of speakers in university who would come and talk about their careers and it would frustrate me when they would mention things were ‘luck’ or ‘happened by chance.’ However, I’ve now come to realise that in fact what they said has a lot of truth to it!

So now,  I only plan a year or two in advance as it’s impossible to look ahead five or ten years, as you never know what is going to happen. But even with that being said, not actively planning doesn’t mean doing nothing, it’s also about networking and getting coffee or putting yourself directionally where you think you want to go so that when the opportunity comes along, you are the best candidate.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Of course – I’ve definitely struggled at some point or didn’t perform as well as I wanted, it’s all part of growing as a professional.  I would encourage everybody, no matter what level, to be clear with yourself about what you want to get out of your job.  Not that you want to do a bad job at anything, but take time to think, what am I aiming for here?  Do I want the next promotion, how do I get it?  Do I instead want this to propel to another job elsewhere?  Do I want my next step to be to manage a team?

Once you’ve worked out exactly what you want to get out of your job, you can then measure your success using these internal markers instead of external metrics.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

There isn’t one ‘big achievement’ that stands out, but I am very proud of the trajectory my career has taken and where I am now.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

I just go and do things –  as Nike says, “Just do it.”  I find that people like to talk about what they’re going to do or say they’re planning on doing something, sometimes that is necessary, but other times it’s a waste of time. Just go and do it!

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

I’d encourage everyone to be open to different roles, even if they seem like lateral moves. The technology sector is fast moving and so many jobs in the sector that people will have in five or ten years simply  don’t exist yet.  There are endless opportunities to learn about new and exciting things, but people must not forget about the interpersonal soft people skills

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Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Absolutely – we still have a long way to go.  I think the gaps and barriers depend on the different roles within technology. Whilst I don’t have a silver bullet for overcoming these, I know the solution needs to include men as there is no way women can fight for this without male advocates.

We also need to be more aware of unconscious bias,  for example, why are women scoring lower on certain work performance metrics in the tech industry? Could this be because women are lower performers or are these metrics skewed toward male traits to begin with?

The thinking needs to go deeper than just filling a quota in minorities – there are so many talented women in tech and it’s about time businesses opened their eyes to them.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

Similar to the above, it’s going to be fundamental that moving forward we support more women in leadership roles. Businesses must have policies that support and retain females in the workforce, such as parental leave and menopause support and support them to as they progress to a senior level.

Those in charge of hiring must make sure that hiring and promotions don’t include any bias, it’s very easy to hire people similar to yourselves so a representative panel is important to mitigate this risk.

There are currently only 21 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I’d love to have men stop talking over or interrupting women and instead listening more.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I would recommend doing more of whatever you’re interested in as that’s ultimately where you’ll succeed.  So, if you’re passionate about the entrepreneurship side, listen to podcasts around founders, etc.  Networking and going out to meet people always helps as well as it gives you the opportunity to learn from other people and become better connected.