Why Today’s ‘Mentorship Programs’ Mostly Fail Women in Tech (and How to Improve Them)

Ellen DaSilva’s Journey, from Banking to Twitter to Hims and Now, Her Own NewCo!

Hunter Walk

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Like many relationships these days, mine and Ellen’s began online. But we successfully converted it to an NYC IRL coffee this past summer. I really enjoyed that chat so wanted to learn a bit more about my new friend, as well as share her story with you all. Thanks Ellen for answering Five Questions.

Hunter Walk: During my childhood I went through phases where I thought I’d be a writer, or a lawyer. Were there professions you recall thinking about when you were a kid? How connected are they to what you’ve ended up doing in this first phase of your career?

Ellen DaSilva: When I was 5, we had career day in my first grade class. Each student had to say what they wanted to be when they grew up — a pretty cliche exercise given I didn’t really know much about the professional world. I thought about it, and announced to my class that I wanted to be the CEO of Coca Cola. Not a soda drinker myself, but when my teacher asked why, I said I knew I’d be the leader of an iconic American company.

In reality, I had limited visibility into the world of tech and entrepreneurship until after college. It seemed to me that the way to achieve success was to work in the financial services or in a blue-chip business. It was sheer luck that I got placed on the tech desk at Barclays and met my (now husband) at the same time. Both showed me that there was life beyond large financial services institutions, and it clicked instantly.

All of this is to say that young aspiration, while it had nothing to do with my current job, gave me the footing to be open-minded, ambitious, and strive until I reached what I wanted. It’s that kind of attitude that helps no matter what the industry.

HW: Over the last decade you worked in banking, then Twitter and Hims (which you recently left). Is there a framework you’ve used to decide when it’s time to leave a company, and how to decide what to do next? I think many new grads would be happy to mirror your early path!

EDS: My mom always told me “don’t leave a job, run toward a new opportunity.”…

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Hunter Walk

You’ll find me @homebrew , Seed Stage Venture Fund w @satyap . Previously made products at YouTube, Google & SecondLife. Married to @cbarlerin .