The Impact A Teacher Can Make
Although I now work as the Vice President of Professional Services for Frozen Mountain Software, I didn’t always see myself going into a technical field. I knew I wanted to do something that helped people but I was not sure what career would be the best fit. I have always had an aptitude for math but like so many girls, I did not see a career in STEM as a viable option.
My grade 8-10 math teacher, Mr. Santosh Dey, played a large role in changing my mind. His way of teaching and relating to students was very unique. He created a learning environment that was fun and made me want to hang out in his classroom after class.
He took some of the more gifted students under his wing and started teaching us calculus very early on. He even invited us to his house for advanced math lessons. It sounds weird, but it was really fun. He was preparing us for our future. But Mr. Dey was not the only teacher that took a vested interest in my skills and abilities as a student. My grade 11 and 12 physics teacher, Mr. Bob MacAulay, was a big influence on me.
He stopped me in the hall one day on my way to class and asked me if I knew what I would be taking in university. He affirmed my aptitude for math, physics and computer programming and told me that I should go into Computer Engineering.
I didn’t even know what a Computer Engineer was, but I went home that day and told my parents that I wanted to be a Computer Engineer. Once I started taking my university courses, I knew I was right where I was supposed to be. I have Mr. MacAulay to thank for that.
But being on a male-dominated career path was intimidating at times and students were not always encouraging. Only 10% of my class was female. I struggled with feeling like I didn’t belong and that I needed to prove myself. There was an underlying attitude amongst the students that I had it easier because I was a female - especially when it came to getting co-op job interviews. Not having any female friends or role models in Computer Engineering led me to doubt my skills and whether I belonged.
But deep down I knew I was getting the jobs because of my skills, grades, and my ability to communicate with others.
Fresh out of university, I was hired by IBM and quickly began taking on more roles and responsibilities. I gained experience as a Business Analyst, Product Owner and Team Lead before finding my niche as a Project Manager, now Vice President of Professional Services for Frozen Mountain Software.
My employment years have been pivotal for building my confidence. I am very lucky. I have a husband, family, friends, and coworkers who have always supported me and told me that I was good enough - even when I didn’t believe it myself.
Every day, I go to work and I love what I do. I get to use my talents and I get to help people. That is the greatest reward.