The unstoppable and brave businesswoman: Christina Wallace.
The perfect job in the ideal city with a fair salary will not land in your outstretched hands like a graduation cap, but there are steps to achieve this daunting task.
Christina Wallace, tech entrepreneur and author, balanced a mix of the arts, business and technology when determining her career. Wallace’s solution to focusing on one thing: throw the idea of a linear career path out the window. She describes the intersectionality of her professional endeavors as a “human Venn diagram.”
“I started my entire childhood being equally torn between the arts and math. I kind of joke that I’m fluent in three languages: math, music and English,” Wallace said.
In high school, Wallace participated in Mathletes and AP math classes while also training to be a classical musician in piano, cello and voice.
Wallace ruled out the idea of being a professional performer, but carried her interests of the arts into college, where she studied theater at Emory University. Wallace double majored in math as well, staying true to her identity of being multiskilled.
Managing her expertises was easier in college, given the wide options of majors and programs, but Wallace’s double lens on life was about to approach a new playing field.
“When it came time to pick a lane for a career I was really torn. How do I keep all these things that I love, find interesting, and that I want every day?” Wallaced asked herself after graduating. “I want to have this balance of creativity, but also the analytical side. How do I build that career?”
These racing thoughts in Wallace’s mind stemmed from her fear of not fitting in. In a room full of art lovers, she was a math nerd, but in a recruiting session for finance, she was the theater geek.
“I’m a very strangely shaped puzzle piece. I take great pride in that, but that means I don’t fit in,” Wallace said. “I felt like I was the weirdo and that there was something wrong with me. I needed to shave off some of these weird angles and edges to fit in.”
When Wallace took on a management role, she found her way by tinkering with computer programs and technology. She was problem solving through her creative and analytical mind without doubting her capabilities. Wallace realized the goal was not to fit in, but to create a space of her own.
“What I loved about startups, and particularly technology startups, was all of that creativity I got in producing theater I could get in building the earliest days of a business,” Wallace said. “You know, putting an entire world together with seven bucks and a roll of twine.”
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She no longer viewed her inability to match a structured position as a negative. The combination of a degree in business, a background in math and technology led Wallace to entrepreneurship.
Wallace founded BridgeUp: STEM, an edtech startup located in the American Museum of Natural History. The education initiative helps young women enter the field of computer science. Wallace also served as the founding director of Startup Institute, a program that teaches the skills of web development, design and digital marketing.
The experience and wisdom she gained throughout her career brought her all the way to Harvard Business School, where Wallace is a senior lecturer in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit.
Wallace has her book, “The Portfolio Life,” coming out on April 18, which teaches how to future proof your career and avoid burnout.
She is a woman full of endless possibilities and surprises, but it all began with the trust she had in her unconventional route to success.
“Be sure that you’re building a life that is worthy of what you have to offer, rather than one that will be admired by other people, but is not one that you want to wake up to every day,” Wallace said.
Header Illustration by Madeline Smith