Cristina Fonseca

Cristina Fonseca


Time in tech 7 years
Current role Co-Founder @ Talkdesk
Place of origin Lisbon, Portugal

Tell us more about you:

Early years and where you came from?

I was born in a really small town near Fátima, in the center of Portugal. When I say small I mean really small: there was no one my age. Besides playing with my brother and sister I used to read a lot. I always dreamed of going to a bigger city and spending time with my family exploring Lisbon in the summer. I moved to Lisbon to study Networks and Computer Engineering.

How were you introduced to the world of the Portuguese tech industry?

Before being introduced to the tech world I was introduced to the engineering world. My father is really hands on and liked electronics and mechanics a lot, so he used to explain me the internals of cars, machines and so on. After passing that to my brother, he enrolled in a tech course in high school and I started scanning his networking and programming books. That got me curious and was the reason why I chose Networks and Computer Engineering: I thought that was going to play an important role in the future and I wanted to learn more about it. Although I didn’t know much at that time, since my only contact with computers was basically playing some games and changing disk drives, I really liked it!

Walk me through your work and what you are doing now in the tech industry.

Right now I am taking a sabbatical which includes traveling, learning and spending time with family and friends.

Coming from the startup world, my day used to be full of adrenaline. When we started Talkdesk, working on the product, speaking with customers and iterating was really exciting. After that, came the phase where we had to start expanding the team in other subjects like Design, Marketing, Support and Sales. That brought a new set of challenges. The last year we had to hire a lot of people to keep up with our growth and overall my work was focused on that and in supporting the team.

What part of what you do, you love the most?

I really like to solve problems over team work, so my favorite part is to work in a group to solve a challenging issue.

How do you think that your background and knowledge impact the way you approach your work in the Portuguese tech industry?

I guess that impacts how people approach work in general. Being in the startup world, we are surrounded by other companies with ambitious goals and good ideas so we know moving faster is one of the most important things. On top of that I am an engineer and my approach to everything is “let’s find the solution”. Both combined make me a person with a “to the point” approach.

What advice do you have for young women that want to get into tech and don’t know where to start?

Nowadays all the technical knowledge is online, so there is no excuse not to learn. As we may find a natural resistance to learn just for the sake of learning the best way is to find a project that works as an excuse for us to apply the skills.

Walk me through a day in your life as a Portuguese women in tech.

A day in my life can vary a lot so I prefer to organize my week around projects I’m working at. Typically I dedicate 3 days a week to focused work and working with no interruptions which is really important and a challenge nowadays. The remaining of the week I am more open - meetings and external interactions are allowed. Another important part of my life is learning - this can be reading or doing an online course, but is for sure part of my day.

While at Talkdesk my days would be really different because the company changed a lot along the years. While initially they would be more towards individual work, turned into a more collaborative environment as I became more of an enabler once the company grew.

These would be the common tasks:

-       Wake up as early as possible (but never early enough), have breakfast and leave to the office.

-       Arrive in the office early morning, check email and do some focused work including planning, reviewing materials, writing code, preparing presentations or interact with customers.

-       Lunch with the team, friend or a candidate.

-       Afternoons were typically more dynamic with me participating in team meetings, customer calls, interviews or working with other managers.

-       Leave the office between 21h or 23h, eat something and work a bit more since the US was still awake and there is always someone demanding your attention.

Whats the best advice you’ve ever received?

We have the power to change things but we will have to break some rules we thought were pre-established. We will then find they were not.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

There are the apps and utilities we don’t even realise we use on a daily basis: google maps, messenger apps (whatsapp, facebook messenger, telegram, slack), skype and social networks. Besides those, here are my favorites:

-       Evernote: since I use it to keep daily todo lists, take notes and organize myself.

-       Podcasts: the perfect way of spending commute time.

-       Kindle: I really like to read and when I don’t have my kindle I use the mobile app.

-       Email is not really a favorite but it’s useful along with Google Calendar.

-       Plus, I google everything so in general I keep my phone close by.