To say that Robyn Tingley wears many hats is an understatement. As the CEO of her company GlassSKY, an honorary Lieutenant Colonel with the Canadian Army and founder of social enterprise CalChique, Robyn is extremely busy making social change. A typical day might involve a meeting on new economic development strategies, facilitating a conference on addiction and mental health, or offering solutions on how companies can improve diversity.
“It’s a lot of variety, but at the end of the day, it’s all tied back to the big societal issues that matter.”
Tingley had just finished an internship with Elle Magazine in Manhattan when professor of journalism Stephen Kimber introduced her to job recruiters at NBTel. She was offered a job in public relations, straight out of the BJ program. She would spend 11 years there.
She quickly found a niche: pushing for equity within the world of business. “We are here for a very finite period of time, she says, “and we have to figure out what are we going to stand for. In the business environment…I could have an impact in a very short period of time.”
Tingley left Atlantic Canada to pursue an international career and served as vice president of human resources and communications for the European, Latin American, and North American divisions of Ingram Micro, a Fortune 100 company in the male-dominated tech industry. She was responsible for talent development, recruitment, and executive succession planning, “making sure we’re represented in underrepresented communities. Inside the company, it’s making sure we have an environment that can welcome diversity and grow diversity.”
In this role, Tingley was named one of the “Most Powerful & Influential Women” by the California Diversity Council, as well as to the “Women Worth Watching” annual list of top executive female trailblazers in North America and Europe by Profiles in Diversity Journal. She was also selected by Oxford University’s Said Business School as one of 30 female pioneers worldwide to participate in and shape their inaugural Women Transforming Leadership program.
In 2015, Tingley returned to New Brunswick to raise her infant twin daughters. There, she founded GlassSKY, an organization that is dedicated to empowering women and girls, helping them reach their full potential. She applies her vast experiences in the corporate world to mentor women who aspire to leadership roles and works with employers to implement diversity programs —most recently, she has been collaborating with the Canadian Army to establish greater diversity and equity in the armed forces.
In 2017, Tingley released a book, 10 Essentials for the Motivated Millennial: A Guide to High Performance for New Grads and Career Starters, which has been featured in Dow Jones, Oxford Business News and Fast Company.
Tingley is also the founder of her own project: CalChique. This socially responsible jewellery company supports women entrepreneurs in developing economies by granting them small loans. So far, the project has delivered over 200 small business loans and two scholarships to women to study community leadership at the Coady International Institute in Antigonish.
In 2018, Robyn co-founded the organization Women for 50%. The project aims to bring more women from diverse backgrounds into the New Brunswick provincial legislature.
“You can really see that having a voice to shine the light on the issue (of diversity) changed the landscape for a lot of women.”
The initiative was later recognized with the Order of New Brunswick The notion of social justice was something Tingley grew up with at home. “My mom is a rockstar,” she laughs. Tingley’s mother, who was also honoured with the Order of New Brunswick for work advocating for gender equity, always emphasized the value of social justice.
The journalism program at King’s strengthened her commitment to those values. “I took a very good journalism ethics course,” she says. “It reinforced the importance of doing your homework – representing the facts with honesty, integrity and objectivity, and really making sure that we respected the story we were telling and the people we were telling that story about.”
Tingley’s advice to new grads suffering from job panic is this: “Once you understand your strengths, you look at places that will help you to build on those strengths,” she says. “I think where a person finds a sense of control, a sense of accomplishment, is when they’re doing what they’re good at and what they enjoy.”
Updated: Aug. 2020