For tech and gaming pioneer Jacqueline Shorter-Beauchamp, tackling tall challenges with belief in self, innovation, and the creation of integration is all in a day’s work. She recently introduced her methodology, dubbed FTSO, to a stunned audience at the Women of Power TECH Summit. She said, “Figure that sh– out.”
As an evolution of the virtual conference that began in 2020, the first-ever live Women of Power TECH summit welcomed a host of fearless founders, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and influencers within the tech industry on Sept. 27. Power professionals came and left with more gems on their crown, thanks to the empowering words of advice and incentives.
“When you’re struggling, just think about it: the cream always rises to the top,” said Winona Taylor Lee, executive director of Enterprise IT, Merck. She had only been in her role for 90 days when she accepted BLACK ENTERPRISE’s invitation to discuss closing tech’s Black talent gap at the summit.
Here are a few other takeaways from the candid panel discussions.
Closing Tech’s Black Talent Gap
Merck’s Taylor Lee believes that tech’s Black talent gap will never close without available talent. So, she learned to lead.
“I should be pushing you to do the next job,” she said, adding that people should research and choose a role beyond the “flavor of the month.” The lack of ready-to-deploy talent with in-demand skills constrains business and tech transformation. “You have to do the job to get the job,” she said. Everyone should “stay up” on their personal and professional development.
From her vantage point, Brittany Clark, senior director of Technology Strategy & Innovation at Walmart Global Tech, sees a lack of women who look like her at the table.
“If you don’t know what’s there, you can’t seek it,” she said. So, she created her own personal KPI (key performance indicator) to dedicate time and resources to mentoring and opening doors.
“Be mindful of the network and the community you’re developing at work. Put your best foot forward because your name will be mentioned when you’re not in the room,” she added.
Doing Business in a Virtual World
Shorter-Beauchamp, CEO of Engaged Media Studios, operates her business as a big corporation, serving museums, sports, entertainment, and the industrial sector with immersive experiences.
“They’re all utilizing the same underlying development platform I’ve used for gaming,” she said, adding that the intentionality behind utilization makes the execution successful. With a story in mind, Shorter-Beauchamp intentionally repurposes skill sets into different verticals and stays abreast of newer technologies.
“Do not integrate a technical solution just for the sake of technology,” she advised.
Sterling Ingui, Workplace Investing Product area leader at NextGen DC of Fidelity Investments, is proud to have helped create a first industry consortium of record keepers to help the underserved and the undersaved. This is just one of the ways technology has enabled Fidelity to provide access to education and ongoing support to its customers. Ingui also recalled creating a program for associates to upscale into technology.
“You have to find the companies that value what you value,’ she said.
Securing the Funding You Need to Scale
Serial entrepreneur Tina Williams-Koroma, founder and CEO of CyDeploy, is building her company to exit. This means she can sell the company or co-own a company to other investors or firms. With dilutive and non-dilutive funding, Williams-Kormoma raised $1.1 million pre-seed from grant and accelerator programs like Google for Startups, Black Founders Fund, and Tech Stars.
She advised, “Look for as many non-dilutive options as possible,” which allows companies to obtain the capital they need while preserving ownership. The executive also recommends having enough savings in the bank to cover at least 2-3 months of your company’s payroll.”
Lenore Champagne Beirne, founder and managing partner at Bright Ventures, delivers capital, coaching, and community to a diverse group of founders and innovators.
“If you’re at an early stage, use that non-dilutive capital to help you get a sense of product-market fit. The more evidence of that, the better terms you can get at your pre-seed, which is another way to reduce dilution,” she advised.
To gear up for a venture meeting, the executive coach offers some tips: establish your internal team and advisers and the business goals for the next 18 months.
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