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everyday commerce from the driver’s seat Olabisi Boyle

Senior Director Internet of Things (IoT), Connected Car, Visa

why cybersecurity for girls



sexual assault and harassment

Make plans to attend the

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October 11–13, 2018 Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center & the COBO Center Detroit, MI

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Now Hiring: Now Hiring: Engineering – Electrical, Engineering – Electrical, Hardware, Mechanical, Hardware, Mechanical, Systems, Software/Cyber Systems, Software/Cyber Non-Engineering – Finance, Non-Engineering – Finance, Supply Chain, Operations, Supply Chain, Operations, Network Security, IT Network Security, IT @Raytheon_Jobs @Raytheon_Jobs Raytheon Raytheon

©2017 Raytheon Company. All rights reserved.

©2017 Raytheon Company. All rights reserved.




30| how to get more girls into technology Top women in tech say shop classes, STEM programs, and coops played a big part in making possible a career in STEM.

32| can the gender gap ever be closed? A gender divide exists within the tech industry, causing people to question whether women can flourish in a male-dominated industry.

36| #metoo Academics don’t live in ivory towers. That’s why the National Academies Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine is doing a study on sexual harassment in academia.


departments 06| People and Events Women in the News

10| One on One By 2021 there will be 3 million cybersecurity job openings. Be like Essye Miller, Deputy CIO for Cybersecurity, U.S. Department of Defense Chief Information Officer.

14| First Steps Defense industry executive Alisha White Madison dispenses advice on how to best maneuver oneself to the top rungs of the corporate world.

18| Corporate Life Who knew? The largest bank in the United States employs 40,000 engineers and spends close to $10B on new technology each year. They’re hiring innovators like you.

22| Career Voices According to one study, nearly 60% of women CEOs had proven themselves in either science, technology, finance, business, or economics early on in their careers.

39| Career Outlook  Industry Overview  Getting Your FINTECH Job

26| cover story Olabisi Boyle Senior Director, Internet of Things (IoT), Connected Car

As Visa’s director of the Internet of Things, Olabisi Boyle is responsible for connecting cars with gas pumps, drive-through eats, and toll systems without lifting a finger.

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chnology & Business


“Nevertheless, She Persisted: Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination Against Women”


he above theme for National Women’s History Month 2018 is a salutary reflection on some of the pivotal moments in 2017 as well as age-old conflicts.

Over two decades, Women of Color magazine has captured diverse cultural moments through the stories of women with hard-won success in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). If history has taught us anything, it’s that persistence, innovation, invention, and human ingenuity always bring about a shift in personal, professional, and societal challenges. More than a decade ago, Women of Color magazine did a feature on information technology, with a special focus on IT’s transformation of various sectors. A University of Washington law professor’s observation of the role of finance and IT in the evolving digital economy stood out: “Financial institutions were at the forefront in creating the information economy as it exists today.”

“Once mobile devices gave us access to location, businesses had a better story on geolocation, demographics, and the in-car experience,” Internet trends expert Jem Pagán told WOC magazine last year. “We have moved from a mouse-based experience to a finger-based experience to a voice-based experience,” he added. “Businesses want to get to where you are so comfortable using your voice you never have to touch the screen. To do that they need to build out artificial intelligence (AI).” In 2017 our editors featured how the use of data, natural language processing, robotics, and AI have opened up opportunities for STEM graduates to think outside the box. In this issue, we look at some of the jobs in our rapidly changing economy and the role of the connected car.

Five years on, the automotive industry is responding to advancements in the data economy with amazing ideas.

Tyrone D. Taborn CEO and Chief Content Officer

Career Communications Group’s

for today’s career women in business and technology



Tyrone D. Taborn, CEO and Chief Content Officer Jean Hamilton, President and CFO Alex Venetta, Associate Publisher, Manager of Partner Services Eric Price, Vice President, Recruitment and Professional Training

Angela Wheeler, Manager, Foundation for Educational Development, Inc. Ty Taborn, Corporate Development Hayward Henderson, Executive Advisor to the CEO


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Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd, CCG Alumni Committee Chair and President Dr. Eugene DeLoatch, Chairman, BEYA Alumni Group Vice Admiral Walter J. Davis, USN (Ret) National Chair, BEYA Military Alumni Oliver “Bo” Leslie, Retired Program Manager, Historically Black Colleges and Universities/Minority Institutions, Boeing Monica E. Emerson, Women of Color STEM Conference National Chair Matt Bowman, CCG Military Program Manager Stars and Stripes Committee Executive Director/Chief of Staff for VADM Walt Davis, USN (Ret.)



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ADVERTISING SALES OFFICE Career Communications Group, Inc. 729 E. Pratt Street, Suite 504 Baltimore, MD 21202 Phone: (410) 244-7101 / Fax: (410) 752-1834 Women of Color (ISSN 1937-0555) is a publication for today’s career women in business and technology. Women of Color magazine invites letters to the editor about any topics important to our readership. Article queries and letters should be sent to: CCG – Women of Color magazine, Editorial Department, 729 E. Pratt St., Suite 504, Baltimore, MD 21202. No manuscript will be returned unless accompanied by a stamped, selfaddressed envelope. Women of Color magazine cannot be responsible for unsolicited art or editorial material. Subscriptions are $13/year. Please write to: CCG – Women of Color magazine, Subscriptions, 729 E. Pratt St., Suite 504, Baltimore, MD 21202. Copyright © 2018 by Career Communications Group Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A. Like us on Facebook at

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women in the news is headquartered north of Pittsburgh in Cranberry Township, PA, and has manufacturing operations in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

Number of Firms Owned by Women of Color Has Grown by 467% over the Past 20 Years The number of businesses owned by women in the U.S. has more than doubled, as has their revenue, according to the State of Women-Owned Businesses report, commissioned by American Express OPEN. Women are starting an average of 849 new businesses per day, up 3% from the previous year. The report is based on U.S. Census Bureau data adjusted by gross domestic product data each year. For the last twenty years, women of color have turned to entrepreneurship at an astounding rate. As of 2017, there are an estimated: • •

Sandra Phillips Rogers Elected to MSA Board of Directors


he Board of Directors of global safety equipment manufacturer MSA Safety Incorporated elected Sandra Phillips Rogers, current group vice president, general counsel, chief legal officer, and corporate secretary for Toyota Motor North America, Inc., to MSA’s Board of Directors. Rogers leads the legal services function for Toyota’s operations in North America. Previously, she served as vice president and deputy general counsel for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. With 2016 revenues of $1.15 billion, MSA employs 4,600 people worldwide. The company

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2.2 million African-American, women-owned firms; Almost 2 million Latina-owned businesses; 1 million Asian-American women-owned companies; 161,500 Native American/Alaska Native womenowned enterprises; and 34,200 Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander womenowned firms.

The report estimates that if revenues generated by minority women-owned firms matched those currently generated by other women-owned businesses, they would add $1.1 trillion in revenues and 3.8 million new jobs to the U.S. economy. There are currently 11.6 million women-owned businesses employing nearly 9 million people and generating more than $1.7 trillion in revenue.

By Lango Deen


Women Comprise 12% of Public Company Boards Globally Director Search, an executive search platform of 2 million corporate directors, executives, and director candidates, announced new findings at the end of 2017. At a level of 18% female board member representation, European public companies are 50% above the global average of 12% female board members. Although the S&P 500 companies often are cited to have 21% female representation, the boards of all U.S. public companies, with 6,517 female directors out of the total 55,037 corporate directors, average 12% female representation. While 945 (94.5%) of the Fortune 1,000 companies have at least one female board member, 4,708 (64%) of the remaining 7,341 U.S. public corporations do not have a single woman on their board of directors. Currently, more than 10% of the 306,186 board members of the world’s public companies are aged 70 and older, with many being a member of more than one corporate board. In the U.S., 19% of the corporate directors are age 70 and older, compared to 7% for European companies.

New Study Finds Asian Women Least Likely to Ascend to Top Ranks “The Illusion of Asian Success: Scant Progress for Minorities in Cracking the Glass Ceiling from 2007– 2015,” a new report from the Ascend Foundation, spotlights the evolving challenges for Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and other minority women in climbing the ladder to success in technology companies. The study includes pipeline data aggregated from hundreds of companies, including Apple, Cisco, Facebook, Google, HP, Intel, Twitter, and Yelp. Co-author and

“We encourage companies to take a hard look at their minority pipeline and ask how they can

do better.” - former Cisco VP, Denise Peck

Ascend executive advisor Denise Peck, a former Cisco VP, stated, “The data show that a general focus on developing women leaders has not addressed the distinct challenges for Asian, Black, or Hispanic women. This has been an unspoken truth in the minority community, and we hope that our report opens a long overdue dialogue. We encourage all companies to take a hard look at their minority pipeline and ask how they can do better.”

Women Who Tech Women Who Tech, a U.S.-based nonprofit that advocates for women in the technology and startup industry, launched its sixth Women Startup Challenge. The startup challenge is one of the largest pitch competitions to showcase top women-led tech startups. Only 7% of all investor money goes to women-led startups. The pitch competitions showcased early-stage women-led technology startups focused on augmented reality, blockchain, IoT, space and robotics, transportation, biotech, virtual reality, energy, and agriculture tech. Aimed at closing the gender gap in the tech sector, the startup challenge will feature 10 finalists pitching their emerging tech ventures before a panel of prominent investors. 


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be like Essye Miller Own one of America’s 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs

By 2021 Cybersecurity Ventures, a leading researcher covering the global cyber economy, predicts there will be 3.5 million cybersecurity job openings.


hen Essye Miller, then the deputy chief information officer for cybersecurity at the Department of Defense, spoke to the Alabama chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association

10 ‚


(AFCEA) last summer, she talked about how much technology has changed since she joined the field. Even words such as virus and cloud have taken on new meanings in the ever-changing landscape of the cyber world, she said. Miller emphasized that government needs more innovation and more ways to attract young people to cybersecurity. Miller graduated from Talladega College in 1985 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and began her federal civil service career as an information systems specialist intern. She got on-the-job cybersecurity training at the Standards Systems Center on the Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery, AL.

By Lango Deen

She also joined the AFCEA, a non-profit organization that has helped members advance in information technology, communications, and electronics capabilities since 1946. The association now has more than 31,000 individual members, 139 chapters, and 1,630 corporate members. Climbing the Federal Career Ladder Over her federal career, Miller has served in various leadership positions in both the Army and Air Force. In 1992 she moved to Headquarters Air Combat Command, Langley Air Force Base, VA. There she held positions of increasing responsibility for policy and guidance airborne, for space and deployed command and control systems support, and as a senior manager for communications and information technology professionals. Prior to joining the Department of Defense Chief Information Office, Miller was the director of cybersecurity for the Army CIO/G-6. She was also the Army’s senior information assurance officer and was responsible for the development, implementation, execution, and oversight of the Army’s cybersecurity program. From November 2010 until August 2014, Miller served as the director of information management and the chief information officer, Headquarters Air Force, In this photo taken on September 28, 2017, at the Pentagon, Ms. Essye

B. Miller, a career member of the federal Senior Executive Service, poses in the Chief Information Office of the U.S. Department of Defense. (Photo courtesy: Alan Lessig/Defense News)

Office of the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force in Washington, DC. Previously, she served in various positions throughout the Air Force, including the Air Force Communication and Information Center; Air Force Office of Warfighting Integration and Chief Information Office at the Pentagon; Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base; the 75th Communications and Information Directorate; and Deputy CIO at Hill Air Force Base in Ogdon, UT. Senior Executive Service As a member of the Senior Executive Service, she has served as Director, Headquarters Air Force Information Management, and Headquarters Air Force

Chief Information Officer and liaison to the Pentagon Architecture Council. She also managed the Air Force Declassification Office, Air Force Publications Distribution Office, Headquarters Air Force Multimedia Services, and Enterprise Business Solution. Miller took over the role of acting chief information officer on December 8, 2017. In her regular role within the department, Miller holds positions as the Deputy Chief Information Officer for Cybersecurity and as the department’s Senior Information Security Officer. As the department’s Senior Information Security Officer for Cybersecurity, she is responsible for ensuring that the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer has a defined and well-executed cybersecurity program. She is also responsible for coordinating cybersecurity standards, policies, and procedures with other federal agencies, coalition partners, and industry. She retains some statutorily assigned responsibilities as the senior information security officer. She is the primary adviser to the secretary of defense for information management, information technology, and information assurance as well as non-intelligence space systems; critical satellite communications, navigation, and timing programs; spectrum; and telecommunications. A 2016 graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, she is certified in National and International Security Studies and Acquisition Level III Information Technology. In addition to her bachelor’s degree from Talladega College, Miller earned a Master of Business Administration from Troy State University and a Master of Strategic Studies from Air University in Montgomery, AL. 

The U.S. Cyber Challenge is a program supported by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate through a contract with the Center for Internet Security, a 501(c)3 organization. USCC has the mission to significantly reduce the shortage in the cyber workforce by serving as the premier program to identify, attract, recruit, and place the next generation of cybersecurity professionals. USCC’s goal is to find 10,000 of America’s best and brightest to fill the ranks of cybersecurity professionals where their skills can be of the greatest value to the nation.



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Morgan State University’s Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. School of Engineering enrolls more than

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It offers graduate programs that lead to the Master of Engineering, the Ph.D. in Transportation Systems and the Doctor of Engineering and Master of Science in Transportation. The School

also offers Post Baccalaureate Certificates in Urban Transportation and Cyber Security.

Discover what you can do at IBM.


IBM, the IBM logo and are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the Web at © Copyright IBM Corporation 2016. P31853

Outthink ordinary. Some companies don’t have a global reach – it’s the same faces, different day. At IBM, you’ll be a part of a diverse team where you’ll meet and work with new people from different cultures to tackle challenges from a fresh perspective. IBM’s culture of inclusivity means you’re free to be yourself while supporting others and sharing ideas. Be proud of what you do and who you work with.


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taking a no-nonsense approach to understanding the workplace Alisha White Madison dispenses advice on resolving workplace issues and how best to maneuver oneself to the upper echelon of the corporate world. By her own assessment, she takes a no-nonsense, tell-itlike-it-is approach during her training workshop and one-on-one counseling sessions. Sugarcoating and being politically correct are not her style.


hite Madison has worked for Northrop Grumman for 12 years, first as a consultant and now as a manager of the global security firm’s business acquisition process. She is also CEO of the Bella Network, an initiative she launched in 2016 to work more closely with women. Through this network, she conducts an annual threeday conference in Los Angeles as well as quarterly events and one-on-one coaching and counseling. The network currently has 1,100 members. White Madison started doing small group training sessions for an African-American task group at Northrop Grumman, and an executive asked her to be a keynote speaker at the company’s summit in Washington, DC. Opportunities followed for her to

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conduct a series of monthly talks that went viral and reached thousands. She said management liked her candid and frank approach and that she often said the kinds of things they wanted to express but feared being too honest or viewed as not politically correct. White Madison covers a myriad of issues and situations that arise in the workplace and tells employees that as in life, everything is not fair in the workplace, that workers need to understand how to ingrain themselves into an organization, why it’s important to have a presence at as many company functions as possible, and not to be overly defensive or aggressive. “My approach is, you need to figure how to talk to your leadership and have them embrace what you have to say,” she said. “Sometimes the problem is not with leadership; the problem is with you” is an example of White Madison’s assessment of an employee’s displeasure with the workplace. “Let’s work on us before we try to get the other person to change.” When not engaged by a corporation to provide training, White Madison and her associates through the Bella Network charge individuals $50 a month and entrepreneurs $100 a month for counseling services in addition to a $150 application fee. She said individuals are interviewed first to determine their needs and to ensure they can assist them. White Madison said she’s observed differences in Whites and Blacks in the workplace that reflect culture and upbringing. “Whites are told to ask, ask anybody,” she said. “As a culture, [African Americans] are told don’t ask questions, don’t let people know we don’t know

By Gale Horton Gay

“The persons we’ve been mentored by the most are our . Many of our mothers have


never been part


something, we don’t want to appear like we don’t have the answer.” African Americans maneuvering through corporate America should also be mindful of advice from their oldest mentors: their mothers. “The persons we’ve been mentored by the most are our mothers. Many of our mothers have never been part of corporate America. They give emotional advice. Emotional advice is not going to benefit you in the corporate world,” she said. “Our mothers should be our cheerleaders and not our mentors. We need to look outside for mentors who can relate to the situation we are going through and give accurate advice.” There are also body language and facial expression issues that many people are unaware of that come into play at work. In the half-day workshops that she conducts, White Madison videotapes each participant, asking about things they enjoy and things that frustrate them. Most don’t realize the subtle facial and body language cues they are showing.

of America. They give

emotional advice. Emotional

not going to benefit you in the advice is

corporate world.”

- Alisha White Madison

expressions are bigger, our facial features are more expressive. You have to be in control of how you appear.” 

“We tend to show micro-expressions,” she said, adding that people will flash an expression indicating they are displeased or not on board during a discussion. “You are clueless you did it. Most come from childhood. As African Americans, our


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g edition

By Gale Horton Gay


JPMorgan Chase:

a technology company and a bank JP

Morgan Chase is widely known as the largest bank and financial services provider in the United States. What many people don’t realize, however, is that the institution also stands at the forefront of technological development. Employing nearly 40,000 engineers and spending close to $10B on technology every year, JPMorgan Chase embraces innovation head on. A panel of 2017 Technology Rising Stars, all of whom work in tech at JPMorgan, recently sat down to discuss their work at the firm. The group shared their stories and talked about the various ways in which they contribute to the ever-shifting landscape of technology in the financial services sector. “Our job is to make sure that our lines of business have the tech that they need,” explained Tiffany Polk, who works as Head of Storage at the firm. “To make sure that we have the best infrastructure possible in order to meet our firm-wide goals but also to make sure that portfolio of services [is there] for our LOB customers.” Much of Polk’s work revolves around the companywide shift toward cloud-based platforms. “You hear a lot about cloud, but what does that really mean?” she asked the audience. “What it means is that we have to get more performant and we have to get better at utilizing software where we used to utilize hardware… moving away from fiber channel storage area networks and moving to IP-based storage.” JPMorgan Chase is also emphasizing a transformation in their research methodology, moving from the traditional waterfall method to an entirely Agile approach. Because such a shift causes significant changes in the day-to-day responsibilities of their employees, the firm puts a significant amount of resources toward educating their employees. “It’s causing a bit of a stir in the organization,” Lisa Grott, who works as Executive Director in Global Technology Strategy, explains. “We’re working through that, laying out the plan of what your role turns into, what the opportunities are. We’re establishing significant training opportunities for individuals and laying out career paths.” A continuous approach to education is integral to the success of JPMorgan Chase’s employees and an

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aspect of the company that the panelists expressed appreciation for. Lupe Czerwinski, another executive director and the panel’s moderator, said, “The tools that are offered to us are amazing. We have about 5,000 classes in technology and spend a good 20% of our time learning.” “There’s a clear vision of what the strategy is around technology,” added Michelle Thomlinson, who works as an executive in corporate investments. “It’s exciting for me to work in an organization that lays down that foundation and then presents itself to give you opportunities to expand.” It is through embracing these opportunities that the panelists have found their success as leaders in the organization. “I had to take the time to really learn the coding aspect of what we’ve been working on,” Thomlinson explained. “I’ve gone through the training both internally and externally just to get myself familiar with that. You really have to be committed to that whole package and lead by example.” Ultimately, after all, technology is a space dominated by constant change. Successful leaders are capable of adapting to such change while maintaining a clear vision of the future. Diversity within the company, the panel agreed, is a change that needs to be emphasized. “When we talk about change, that’s something that we need to change within our organization,” Grott said. “There are a lot of people who’ve put energy, planning, and time into driving numerous efforts in JPMorgan Chase as it relates to diversity inclusion.” She added, “If we as an organization aren’t leading those types of efforts, there’s not going to be any movement.” Ana Mowles, VP Storage Manager, illustrated how she makes every effort to “pay it forward” by giving opportunities to those who might not be granted them otherwise. “Every year, I hire someone who has nothing to do with technology,” she said. She elaborated that strong leaders foster innovation through encouragement. “I try to support other people before ever expecting any support,” Mowles said. “I find a lot of joy in that.” 

Ad Where potential






It takes a village to build the next generation of empowered women. As partners and advocates, DTE Energy and Women of Color in STEM are providing the tools and resources to improve women’s lives. We’re proud to support Women of Color in STEM and it’s positive, life-changing work in our communities.


Staff Writer

if you want to be a CEO, focus on STEM and finance A Korn Ferry study of current and former women CEOs highlights common success factors on the road to becoming a CEO and suggests steps companies can take to build a pipeline of women CEOs.


he research included 57 women CEOs: 41 from Fortune 1000 companies and 16 from large, privately held companies. It was supported by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation as part of their 100x25 initiative, which aims to reach at least 100 Fortune 500 women CEOs by 2025 to promote gender equity in corporate environments. “Given there have been only 94 women CEOs ever in the Fortune 500, we were thrilled at the high participation rate,” said Jane Edison Stevenson, Korn Ferry’s Global Leader for CEO Succession, who led the groundbreaking research initiative. “Rather than focusing on why more women are not CEOs, we focused on quantifying what their common success factors were—common experiences, competencies, and traits and drivers that enabled them to become CEOs of major companies. Understanding these remarkably consistent key indicators of women’s potential and, in turn, redefining needed organizational impact factors can help change the game for both organizations and the women who will lead them.” The women CEOs in the study participated through in-depth individual interviews focused on their personal histories, careers, and key personality traits and drivers as well as by completing Korn Ferry’s proprietary executive assessment.

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Six insights emerged with surprising consistency across all the women CEOs who participated in the study: 1. These CEOs worked harder and longer to get to the top. The women CEOs were an average of four years older than their male counterparts and worked in a slightly higher number of roles, functions, companies, and industries. 2. They were driven by both a sense of purpose and achieving business results. More than two-thirds of the women interviewed and assessed said they were motivated by a sense of purpose and their belief that their company could have a positive impact on the community, employees, and the world around them. Nearly a quarter pointed to creating a positive culture as one of their proudest accomplishments. 3. Differentiating traits sustained the women’s success on the road to CEO. Defining traits and competencies that emerged time and again in the research included courage, risk-taking, resilience, agility, and managing ambiguity. 4. They were more likely to engage the power of teams. Scoring significantly higher than the benchmark group on humility—indicative of a consistent lack of self-promotion, an expressed appreciation for others, and a tendency to share the credit—the women CEOs were more likely to leverage others to achieve desired results. 5. Despite the evident potential, the women didn’t generally set their sights on becoming CEO. Two-thirds of the women said they never realized they could become CEO until a boss or mentor encouraged them and instead focused on hitting business targets and seeking new challenges rather than on their personal career advancement.

6. The women shared STEM and financial backgrounds that served as a springboard. Early in their careers, nearly 60 percent of the women had demonstrable expertise in either STEM (40 percent) or business/finance/economics (19 percent), all fields where they could prove themselves with precise, definable outcomes and that are crucial to the success of the business. The research report recommends clear steps companies can take to accelerate and maintain a steady supply of women CEO candidates, including early identification of high-potential talent and communicating opportunities in terms that play to women’s strengths and engage specific drivers. Mentors also play an indispensable role, affirming potential to encourage more women to strive to become CEOs and, later, sponsors who actively help advance other women’s careers. These recommendations are currently being applied to design specific programs for a list of beta companies eager to produce more women leaders.

“One thing that struck us during the research was how closely the women CEOs’ traits aligned with those of the modern leaders that boards are now seeking: courageous and able to successfully navigate uncertainty and ambiguity in a constantly shifting environment,” said Evelyn Orr, Chief Operating Officer of the Korn Ferry Institute and a leader of the research initiative. “While the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100x25 initiative is an ambitious one, we are convinced that as more organizations experience the positive business results of tapping women in the CEO pipeline, additional companies will follow suit.” For the complete study, “Women CEOs Speak,” see 


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radical career change puts

Olabisi Boyle in the

driver’s seat by Gale Horton Gay

In fact, Boyle is working to make it a reality, and she leads a team dedicated to marrying the next generation of technological advances in the automotive, finance, and retail industries.



As Visa’s Senior Director, Internet of Things, Connected Car, Boyle is responsible for commercializing in-vehicle payment solutions featuring cutting-edge payment technology, identifying strategic partnerships, and managing the cross-functional team to bring these new payment experiences to fruition. She explained that via the “Connected Car,” consumers will be able to use technology in vehicles to connect with gas pumps, drive-through eateries, parking meters, and garages as well as toll systems without putting their hands on cash or credit cards. The transactions are designed to be seamless and secure and to provide consumers with a new level of convenience, she said. “I get to bring payment to the Connected Car in two

“I get to bring payment to the connected car in two to three years.”

to three years,” said Boyle with obvious enthusiasm in her voice.

help lead the strategy going forward,” she said of her being brought in to work at Visa on the Connected Car.

“What we want to do at Visa is make it a real thing, a product that people routinely expect,” she said. “Visa is very connected to this.”

Moving from Michigan to California and transitioning from the automotive industry to the financial services market is no small feat.

While Boyle is new to the finance sector, having joined Visa in March 2017, she’s a veteran of the automotive industry.

Boyle said she relied on learning from and building upon the accomplishments she made in other fields to have the confidence to take on the challenge of moving into a new industry. Both accomplishments as well as mistakes are what gives one mettle to wade into a new field, she explained.

Boyle worked at Chrysler Automotive for 12 years, most recently serving as the director for engineering, planning, and technical cost reduction at Fiat Chrysler. Her responsibilities included managing the engineering research and development budget, resource planning, and optimizing technical cost savings across all Chrysler platforms. She served as the chief engineer for the 2011 Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Grand Caravan. Prior to joining Chrysler, Boyle worked at Ford Motor Company for nine years in various engineering and manufacturing positions. “They want to have people steeped in the industry to

The move and changing careers has been an eyeopening experience and one she considers to be positive. When she arrived in the San Francisco Bay area to work at Visa, Boyle encountered a different corporate culture: working less with hardware and more with software, focusing less on milestones and timelines and more on innovation, and shifting from an emphasis on in-house teams to outside partners.


› 27

The hurdles in transitioning to a new industry are not insurmountable, and she views each as an exciting element of her new career path, she said.

While working in the automotive industry, Boyle earned a reputation as the one who would adopt entry-level engineers and give them the opportunity to ask questions of someone they could relate to and feel comfortable having a frank and open conversation. 7_Visa_Fitness_0093_120.jpg 7_Visa_Fitness_0093_300.jpg 7_Visa_Fitness_0093_300.psd

“Companies often have no problem hiring women and minorities straight out of college, but within two to three years, many of those individuals have left because they are not supported, don’t have mentors, and don’t feel there is anyone to whom they can relate. It’s very important people know someone will be there to help.”

Boyle earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering at the same school. She holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Fordham University. When asked about her goals for her division, Boyle said that in the short term of the next year or so, it’s all about working with partners. Those partners include merchants, vehicle manufacturers, rental car agencies, cities, etc. It’s vital to the successful rolling out of the Connected Car that these partners are shown that it is feasible and scalable. Boyle explained that with the evolution of vehicles becoming more autonomous, Visa wants commerce to be a realistic part of the in-vehicle experience in a way that’s safe and convenient. A year and a half ago Visa developed a group under Innovation called the “Internet of Things” and began exploring possible applications in such areas as vehicles, smart homes and appliances, retail, etc. The systems the credit card giant hopes to see in new cars of the just-around-the-corner future will rely on voice or integrated touch dashboard screens as vehicles connect with other devices and systems over the Internet, she explained.

She said companies often have no problem hiring women and minorities straight out of college, but within two to three years, many of those individuals have left because they are not supported, don’t have mentors, and don’t feel there is anyone to whom they can relate. When those people leave a company, there’s no one in the pipeline for possible advancement to senior-level positions. Fitbit, wearable, Visa Token Service, tokenization, payment concept, parking meter, connected device, lifestyle, internet of things, fitness tracker, smart watch, contactless, digital payment, contactless payment

“It’s very important people know someone will be there to help,” she said. “We have to do something about bridging the gap in senior roles,” she said, so that a “robust pipeline” can be established. Boyle said she was impressed by the first tweet she read shortly after she started working at Visa from Visa CEO Alfred Kelly Jr. Kelly was attending a Visa AfricanAmerican employees resource group event and tweeted about diversity, inclusion, and leadership. “This is starting off well,” she said she remembers thinking. She said Visa is a global company with a global culture, and diversity is recognized as an important component of the workplace. She pointed out that multiple efforts are underway involving mentoring, training, and job opportunities for underserved youth as well as for minority employees. There are more than 10 employee resource groups at Visa, including Visa Asian Network, Visa Black Employees, Visa Employees with Disabilities, Visa Hispanic and Latino Employees, Visa Pride (LGBTQ+), and Visa Indian Alliance. 

Boyle has been passionate about encouraging women and minorities to enter the fields that have led to her success. “It’s important that [new employees] see role models as people come in entry level, that they see it’s possible to get here,” she said.

28 ‹



How to GET

Girls More



The original version of this story was published in Women of Color magazine’s 2014 spring issue.

Women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) show a commitment to STEM pathways because shop classes, STEM programs, and experiential learning played a big part in making possible a career in STEM. Why Shop Class Works At a Chicago Network’s Women in the Forefront event, Ilene Gordon, recently president and CEO of Ingredion Incorporated, discussed the importance of a STEM education. “Without shop class in elementary school, physics and calculus in high school, math and science classes in college, and an education at a business school that ranks among the best in the world, I would not have been prepared for the opportunities that I’ve had. It’s perhaps not a surprise that 30 ‹


close to two-thirds of the women CEOs of the Fortune 500 have STEM degrees,” Gordon said. According to a 1996 New York Times article, “The School Bell Tolls for Shop Class” school districts eliminated high school shop classes for a number of reasons, but the bottom line was money. You can’t leave school without shop class, urged’s “Why Everyone Should Take Shop Class.” Citing a 2009 book, Shop Class as Soulcraft, where Mathew Crawford praised the benefits of learning how to make and fix the utilities we need, the magazine said the pros of industrial arts classes include: • Becoming self-reliant. • Understanding the principles of math and science. • Learning the value of persistence. • Finding satisfaction in taking a project from start to finish. • Helping students find their strengths. • Launching a hands-on career. Girls Need STEM Support Gordon also noted that while she was lucky to have support in scientific and technical fields from an early age, not all girls do.

“We need to do everything we can to develop a pipeline of diverse talent and create opportunities for students to pursue their dreams. No one should ever feel like a career in technology is out of reach.” - Marilyn Hewson, CEO, Lockheed Martin “Continued public and private support of STEM education for our young women in our nation’s schools and colleges must be a priority,” Gordon said.

principles in a real-world context, helping students develop problem-solving skills that will prepare them for college and careers.

“An education in the STEM disciplines enhances analytical thinking, which is essential to make a sound, fact-based business decision that drives results,” Gordon added.

Over the last decade, the GM Foundation has helped prepare student graduates with STEM degrees through the University–Organization Partner Program, with donations totaling $31.3 million.

STEM Programs Create Opportunities Lockheed Martin Corporation provides support to several STEM-focused organizations. They include 4-H Robotics, Great Minds in STEM, and Girls, Inc., the company’s pilot program that connects Lockheed Martin volunteers with girls aged 9–11 to strengthen interest and confidence in pursuing STEM education and careers. “To be successful, we must find a way to motivate young people to pursue careers in STEM,” Marillyn Hewson said at a recent STEM-focused event. “We need to do everything we can to develop a pipeline of diverse talent and create opportunities for students to pursue their dreams. No one should ever feel like a career in technology is out of reach.” Hewson has been the CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation since January 2013–the first female CEO at one of the world’s largest defense contractors. Everybody Wins with Cooperative Education Mary Teresa Barra–the first female chief executive officer of General Motors–joined GM in 1980 as an 18-year-old cooperative education student at the General Motors Institute (Kettering University).

Recently, Project Lead the Way (PLTW) announced a $6 million national partnership with Lockheed Martin to expand PLTW’s science, technology, engineering, and math programs in urban school districts. Like Barra, a 30-year veteran of her organization, Hewson also joined Lockheed Martin in the 1980s. According to The Washington Post, Hewson started in 1983 as a senior industrial engineer working on military aircraft, a new program that provided an opportunity for Hewson to advance. Over the course of Hewson’s career, she has held 19 leadership positions that included running the company’s electronic systems business, The Post said. Scholarships and Jobs Guarantee a Supply of Diverse, Highly Skilled Employees In recent years, General Dynamics has bought companies with expertise in expected growth areas such as health technology and cybersecurity. To guarantee a future supply of highly skilled employees, GD partners with organizations such as Jobs for America’s Graduates and sponsors many scholarships at the community college and university levels.

Mixing school and work in rotation at the Pontiac Motor Division, Barra studied electrical engineering at General Motors Institute, obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree.

GD also supports diverse communities where employees work and live through organizations that have an education focus, particularly STEM.

She was promoted quickly through engineering and staff positions, and by 1988 she had earned even further professional development recognition through a GM fellowship for an M.B.A. at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. With more than 30 years of experience at GM, Barra has risen through a series of manufacturing, engineering, and senior staff positions.

“Differences in race, ethnicity, gender, and experience provide the environment in which diversity of thought can flourish, and it is that diversity of thought that ultimately makes us stronger and better and, on a human level, richer,” said Phebe Novakovic, chairman and CEO of General Dynamics.

The automobile manufacturer continues to shape the next generation of leaders and innovators for the auto industry and to develop diverse talent for its future needs. In 2013 GM donated $900,000 to Project Lead the Way, which brings together the application of math and science

Novakovic joined GD in 2001 and became president and chief operating officer in 2012. She graduated from Smith College in Northampton, MA, and received an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1988. 


› 31

can the gender gap be closed ? From Hollywood movies to cable news, computer programming is impossible to escape. Topics like robotics, artificial intelligence, and crypto currencies are a constant reminder of the public’s fascination with technology as well as its importance to our day-to-day lives and economy. Yet with all this fascination, girls and women are sometimes erased from this conversation. From young girls to adult women, a distinct digital gender divide exists within the technology industry, causing people to question whether women can flourish in male-dominated Silicon Valley.

By Kenneth Barnes

32 ‚


Is this the reality, or are

people feeding into a narrative that does not properly take into account the actions and accomplishments of women? Silicon Valley is the product of the post-World War 2 investment in technology that was heavily funded by government grants and military contracts. It was funded by white men for white men. People of color and women were an afterthought at the time. One of the first start-ups for the area was Fairchild Semiconductor, whose first business was military contracts to build microchips. Military contracts and government research funding poured into Silicon Valley and created many of the companies we know today; billion-dollar start-ups like Cloudera and Palantir were funded by Q-Tel, a venture capital fund controlled by the CIA.

Adele Goldberg was a pioneer in object-oriented programming, which later became the basis of the graphical interface used in Apple computers. Joan Ball created and launched the computer dating service in 1964. Carol Shaw was designing some of the first video games for Atari in 1978. Mary Allen Wilkes helped develop the first personal computer. Marissa Mayer was employee number 20 at Google, where she coded and helped develop the design of the initial Google search product.

Women have been part of the history of computers since the beginning. Silicon Valley has become synonymous with everything computer related.

Silicon Valley didn’t always exist however. The twentieth century is filled with countless women and their contributions to the field. In the 1800s, Ada Lovelace wrote the first machine algorithm for a primitive computing device, granting her the title of the first computer programmer. Her work was vital to Charles Babbage’s first mechanical computer, which would eventually lead to the computer revolution. If he is the father of computing, then Ada Lovelace is the mother of programming.

However, it exists only because

Betty Holberton was one of the original six programmers of the first general computer, ENIAC. The research and inventions of Grace Hopper directly led to the development of COBOL, a programming language that became so popular that in 1997 the Gartner Group estimated that 80% of the global business ran on COBOL. Karen Spärck Jones pioneered research into how to weigh the importance of a document among a collection, a discovery that is still in use by every major search engine.

This gets compounded by media articles that focus on a certain type of start-up founder regardless of the level of success they have achieved. Women and people of color have been notably absent in the reporting of early-stage ventures in the past. While this may not have been a conscious decision, it reinforces a viewpoint that only certain types of people are best at starting businesses.

of government funding and contracts supplied by men. In a male-centered domain, men would naturally be the beneficiaries of the contracts and funding.

This echo chamber can have profound effects. Girls don’t see themselves reflected in video game culture and

choose not to pursue careers creating games. Women may believe that technology start-ups have no place for them. College students watching the Silicon Valley HBO series may question if computer programming is the right career pathway. Luckily, the history of technology does not reflect the popular belief about many investors, journalists, and founders. In today’s world of crowdfunding and open source tools, one can launch a new start-up with limited amounts of money and still be able to successfully scale and reach the world. There are a few key factors that are changing how women interact with the tech industries. There are now multiple “Silicon Valleys.” All over the world, there are innovation and technologies hubs growing and blossoming. Shanghai, London, and New York are just a few cities that have nurtured new successful start-ups. The diversity of regions means that the financial capital is also diversified. What may be the worldview of an investor in Silicon Valley may not be the same in Shanghai or London. You can grow organically. Crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, and viral content allow for the launch of new ideas with limited budgets. This allows marginalized individuals to connect with those who immediately understand who they are. So many organizations are now also breaking the barriers to teach girls to code, such as groups like Girls Who Code and Black Girls Code. People are aware of what was not discussed before: the systematic denial of opportunities to women and people of color and how it isn’t an anomaly but a representation of a struggle—a struggle that, once understood, can teach others how to overcome.  WOMENOFCOLOR | SPRING 2018

› 33



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#metoo Impacts of Sexual Harassment in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Academia

By Lango Deen

Gilda Barabino, Dean of Engineering City College of New York

36 ‹



cademia is no Hollywood, but it is also infected by a hidden epidemic of sexual misconduct,” wrote a female professor of philosophy in The Times Higher Education for a survey done in November 2017.

harassment and how the intersection of race and gender in sexual harassment acts to drive minority women out of scientific, engineering, and medical fields at a disproportionate rate compared to white women.

Earlier the same year, an ad hoc committee under the oversight of the National Academies Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine announced a study of the impacts of sexual harassment in academia.

Clancy’s data on sexual harassment at scientific field sites showed that female trainees were most likely to be harassed and that this harassment was most likely to come from a supervisor or mentor. She challenged federal science agencies to terminate funding to perpetrators of sexual harassment.

The National Academies study will examine the extent to which women in the scientific, technical, and medical workforce are victimized by sexual harassment in academic settings; the extent to which sexual harassment in academia impacts recruitment, retention, and advancement of women; and the practices that have been the most successful in preventing and addressing sexual harassment. To advance this conversation, the Committee on the Impacts of Sexual Harassment in Academia held a oneday workshop in Irvine, CA, on June 20, 2017.

The committee also heard from Telle Whitney, who retired from the role of president and CEO of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology at the end of 2017, after 15 years of service.

“A C A D E M I A I S


The summer before, the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine held a scoping workshop in Irvine to address sexual harassment in science, engineering, and medical workplaces.


Of those that did report, 29 percent signed a non-disparagement agreement. Whitney also spoke to the ways that different types of businesses (venture capital, start-ups, large established companies, etc.) may differ in terms of workplace culture and the maturity of company policies and procedures intended to prevent and respond to sexual harassment.

M I S C O N D U C T .”

The committee heard from Gilda Barabino, Dean of Engineering at the City College of New York. Barabino spoke on race and gender in sexual harassment and stressed the point—made by many speakers throughout the workshop—that while cases of grievous sexual assault may garner the greatest public and media attention, subtle forms of sexual harassment that take the form of gender harassment, sexism, and microaggression are more common and likely contribute to the under representation of women, and minority women in particular, in many fields. Kathryn Clancy, associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois, Urbana– Champaign, currently in the process of publishing a study on sexual harassment in astronomy, spoke to the importance of interrogating power in addressing sexual

Whitney shared the findings of the “Elephant in the Valley Survey” that surveyed 200 people in the tech industry and found that 60 percent had experienced sexual harassment, only 10 percent had reported the harassment to human resources, and 39 percent did not report out of fear that it would negatively impact their careers.

Whitney mentioned that tech start-ups that tend to have few, mostly male employees often lag behind large established companies in sexual harassment policies and procedures, such as required sexual harassment training. Whitney also spoke to the value of women’s conferences, such as the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference, as safe places where women can come together and provide candid feedback on their negative workplace experiences and share concerns related to sexual harassment, such as a lack of trust for human resources, fear of retaliation, lack of transparency, and conference cultures that are actively hostile toward women.


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EMPLOYERS STRUGGLE WITH FUNDAMENTAL CONFUSION OVER WHAT CONSTITUTES SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND OFTEN PUT STRICT POLICIES INTO PLACE OUT OF FEAR OF LAWSUITS The final panel of the workshop was focused on challenges to remedying sexual harassment in the workplace. The committee heard from Anita Levy as well, a senior program officer at the American Association of University Professors, and Yesenia Gallegos, Partner, Fox Rothschild LLP. Gallegos remarked that employers struggle with fundamental confusion over what constitutes sexual harassment and often put strict policies into place out of fear of lawsuits. She also raised the point that cultural factors can play a role in different perceptions of which behaviors constitute sexual harassment and that employers must develop responsible policies to prevent real or perceived retaliation since “plaintiffs win cases over retaliation.” Gallegos clarified that in California, any company with over 50 employees must provide mandatory sexual harassment training. Speaking as a representative of the federal government’s office that is responsible for the enforcement of Title IX, Laura Faer, currently statewide Education Rights Director for Public Counsel Law Center, concluded with guidelines for schools for effectively upholding Title IX. Lilia Cortina, professor of psychology and women’s studies at University of Michigan, presented data on the high prevalence of sexual harassment in male-dominated environments, such as the military, and drew parallels between aspects of the military environment and aspects of the environment in some fields within science, engineering, and medicine, such as the male-dominated nature of many of these fields, the power relationships that exist in hierarchical workplaces, and the isolated and remote working environments that some scientists, engineers, and medical professionals must work in to conduct their research and practice. 38 ‹


Cortina also showed data that demonstrated that gender harassment, rather than sexual coercion or unwanted sexual attention, is the most common form of harassment experienced by victims. Moreover, Cortina’s data showed that “gender harassment has at least as great—if not greater—impact on professional and personal health compared to unwanted sexual attention and sexual coercion.” Vicki Magley, professor of psychology at University of Connecticut, raised the topic of civility and respect training as a possible precursor to sexual harassment training (though she was clear to point out that civility and respect training should not be conducted in such a way that it minimizes the significance of sexual harassment as an issue unto itself within the workplace). Magley spoke to the growing evidence on the importance of cynicism among sexual harassment training participants as a barrier to training effectiveness. Finally, Magley raised the point, made by other speakers as well, that efforts to address sexual harassment must take context into account as sexual harassment occurs within units in an institution and any effective intervention must consider the culture and climate of these units and the role of the unit leadership in promoting a climate that is intolerant of sexual harassment. Several themes arose during the presentations, including the following: • The most common form of sexual harassment is gender harassment, with unwanted sexual attention and sexual coercion occurring less frequently. • Only a small percentage of victims of sexual harassment report the harassment. • One major reason victims are unlikely to report harassment is fear of retaliation. • Although many institutions and organizations provide sexual harassment prevention training, these training are very rarely evaluated for their effectiveness. Those few trainings that have been evaluated demonstrate only weak efficacy. • The nature of the scientific enterprise, including the frequency in which small groups of scholars and researchers are required to work long hours in isolated settings, and the extent to which the academic and career advancement of scientists, engineers, and medical professionals is dependent on securing the approval and endorsement of a single powerful supervisor/mentor is something that merits much deeper study in terms of understanding the effects of sexual harassment on the retention of women in STEM careers. 



Survey Results! The state of the technology and financial services field is strong, and skill sets run from coding to data analysis and everything in between. Have you ever worked in a big bank? Do you know blockchain? “No one is expected to know everything,” one expert explains on the inside. “But if you can show that you want to quickly make your way up the learning curve, you’ll have an edge.” It’s all down to computer science, information systems security, and a little bit of arithmetic.

It’s not rocket science. It’s FINTECH.


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40 ‹


The conservative banking industry is being forced to adapt to both millennial lifestyles and an everchanging landscape of cutting-edge solutions and capabilities that are being introduced by the moment. Trends and Direction As the FINTECH industry strengthens, several trends will impact and forge new paths of digital innovation in the field. Artificial intelligence, global payment and processing options, cybersecurity, cryptocurrency, and data analysis, especially with respect to risk mitigation, will all play significant roles in defining the future of finance technology. One of the biggest trends affecting the FINTECH industry is blockchain, a leading tool for digital assets software. Kellee James, founder and CEO of

the online agricultural commodities trading platform Mercaris, agrees. “You can’t spend any time at all talking about FINTECH without someone mentioning blockchain. It gets talked about in many circles, but in FINTECH, it’s real. Unlike some of the more far-fetched applications being discussed, blockchain presents some very interesting commercial, real-world applications for the financial sector. “The problems blockchain is designed to solve are the core problems of FINTECH. Whether you’re talking about clearing functions at an exchange or understanding and assigning a credit risk at a bank, they are all in the heart of blockchain capabilities. Anyone in FINTECH should be well-versed in it, even if they’re not working on blockchain right now.” Job Options The technology revolution happening in the finance industry will mean more job options available for STEM professionals. The move toward independent access and options for global payments will pave the way for increased experimentation in mobile technology and app development. And because technology is changing


By Terrence Dove | the way big banks do business, many are making huge strides in modernizing IT infrastructures. “The outlook is bright for FINTECH,” Kellee explained. “My roles at the organizations I’ve worked at and founded have tended toward business development and economic analysis. But each of the companies I’ve joined has been built on a technology platform as the foundation of the business. In the case of commodity trading markets, that technology has profoundly and fundamentally changed the field. Exchanges, just one facet of financial companies, are essentially technology companies now. “Trading commodities has changed vastly over the past 15 years. The iconic ideas and images of traders standing around flashing hand signs at each other is a thing of the past. Technology has drastically changed the qualifications needed to find the most effective ways to trade. Now the qualifying question is, ‘Can you come up with the best algorithm to trade?’ If you can write code now, you can trade.” Existing Challenges Although advancements in the FINTECH sector are making significant strides for STEM

professionals, there are several key challenges that still exist for new professionals and people of color. Larger cultural challenges, such as the imbalance of minority women in the financial technology industry, have been pervasive in the FINTECH industry for years. But Kellee hopes that more dialogue about the situation will bring about change. “The potential is there, and I hope that changes, but the numbers haven’t shifted nearly enough, especially with people of color. I don’t see the situation balancing out right now, but being able to talk about the imbalance is a good thing.

Technology has drastically

changed the qualifications needed to find the most effective ways to trade.

“Many things have to change,” she continued. “We have to raise awareness and get more women of color into the field. Addressing the ‘pipeline problem’ will be key. At the same time, it won’t help to get people through the pipeline only to

have them chewed up and spit out at the end. Change must happen in FINTECH companies in the way of addressing the very real hurdles of conscious and unconscious biases put in front of people of color. With every step, there are barriers for minorities that white males don’t face or either face to a lesser degree, and we have to formally and directly engage companies about that problem.” 2018 and Beyond The financial industry will continue to evolve as customer preferences and technology drive change in corporate sectors. But this is a good thing, Kellee believes. “My hope is that the entrepreneurs and technologists in the FINTECH sector will continue to focus on the problems that truly matter in people’s lives. There’s no reason why the FINTECH industry can’t continue to become more multidisciplinary. I believe the sector can and will be a way to enable solutions for all sorts of critical areas, from the environment to housing and energy. Finance can help capital find its highest and best use, and technology can find new ways to do it.” 


› 41




global populations become more mobile and services become more independent, disruption in technology sectors will evolve at a much rapider rate. This is especially true in the financial industry, where financial technology, or “FINTECH,” continues to be one of the fastest growing and rapidly changing industries to date. This can be challenging for future graduates, but the ever-evolving financial industry landscape can also be a great career move for students in many IT- and STEM-focused programs.

42 ‹



To gain a better insight, we spoke with Kellee James, founder and CEO of Mercaris, a market information service and online trading platform for agricultural commodities. A former White House Fellow under the Obama Administration, Kellee has extensive roots in the FINTECH industry. She spoke on several key tips graduates should know to prepare for a career in finance technology. Skills for FINTECH Careers Because the financial technology field is extremely broad, hard skills run the gamut, from understanding network infrastructures to coding and data analysis. With money transfers and payment services leading FINTECH adoption in the United States, experience with various mobile applications, collaborative research tools, and cloud software, for example, will show employers that you are familiar with the systems that are impacting the industry.


“No one is expected to know everything,” Kellee explained, “especially starting out. But if you can demonstrate that you are coachable and that you want to very quickly make your way up the learning curve, you’ll have an edge.” As a complement to the specific skills needed for various positions, Kellee believes it is also important to possess interpersonal, or “soft,” skills. “As an employer who has looked at a number of resumes, it’s almost never the technical skills that people have that get them the job,” she said. “It’s knowing that there’s a lot to learn about that company. The standouts that I’ve seen have been the ones who walk through the door knowing they don’t know everything about the position. They are the ones who can take constructive criticism, change, and grow, not solely think, ‘This is the way I want to do it.’


YOU NeeD TO KNOW “The technology field is full of people who learn to do a particular job or skill like coding a certain way, and that’s the way they like to do it. It can be hard to break people out of what they believe in and get them to approach problems a different way. Being open to adjusting is key because adjusting is quite common in the FINTECH industry.” So Where Are the Jobs? When it comes to technology hubs in North America, obvious frontrunners such as New York and San Francisco stand as cities with substantial activity. According to a recent Deloitte report, these cities also have prominent standings in FINTECH rankings. Other noted cities include Chicago, Toronto, and Charlotte, North Carolina. Atlanta, Austin, Seattle, DC, and Miami all have established FINTECH networks that house both older and up-andcoming FINTECH startups. But before finally considering where you want to pursue your career in FINTECH, Kellee suggests you also consider who will be working alongside you. “I think it’s good to focus on the people you want to work with,” she explained. “If you get your dream job, that is wonderful. But I always take pride in the ability to learn and contribute, no matter where I am. I would recommend new professionals look for mentors they can learn from and people who will nurture their abilities. “The things that can’t be taught in a book or learned online are key to differentiation. It’s not enough to be someone who wants to make a difference; you have to be at a place that will let you make a difference.” How Do I Prepare for a FINTECH Career? So what should you be doing now to get a head start on your career in the financial technology industry? Kellee

has several suggestions, starting with organizing a portfolio of your innovative work. “Even if you don’t plan to be an entrepreneur or launch your own company, you should create your own portfolio of work done outside of the classroom. This can be impressive to employers, and it’s a chance to put all your learning into practice. It’s also a chance to be of practical value to skills development within the company.

technologies, and skill sets you’ll have to master in your early career.” Another preparation tip Kellee suggests is to build solid networks of professional peers.

“Network, network, network! It is so important to do this in meaningful ways. Be mindful to build strong relationships with your peers. They will be the people you work with in the future. Also, be persistent! I’ve met lots of smart people with great ideas, but it’s the ones that can see through an effort to its conclusion and learn from it that seem to be the most successful.” Getting Your FINTECH Job There are several enrichment opportunities available for anyone who is serious about obtaining a career in financial technology. Kellee suggests applying for fellowships.

“As an employer, I always love technologists who come into the company with all sorts of side projects in their portfolios. Even if the project didn’t work, the fact that they wanted to try to innovate some idea or application puts natural curiosity on display. That is major for a career in FINTECH. It shows that they’re trying to make things better. ‘Here’s what I was trying to do with it. It didn’t actually solve the problem, but here’s what I learned.’ Students who want to be successful in FINTECH should naturally ask themselves, ‘Is there something I can do, build, or change that will fix this [problem]?’ “It’s also very important,” Kellee added, “to make sure you learn how to learn. It will make it easier to handle the inevitable new requirements,

“On-the-job training should be a given, but I’m also a big believer in fellowships,” Kellee said. “Fellowships were a tool for me to build my network. They helped me form relationships that went deeper than exchanging business cards. “Whatever community you’re involved in has a fellowship. Search professional newsletters. Get plugged into those networks. Sign up for their news alerts. Attend events and conferences in your field related to IT or technology. Listen to speakers on campus.” The FINTECH landscape is a broad, open canvas for students focusing on IT studies. Specific paths and opportunities will vary by profession, but one thing is for sure: The future in the financial sector is bright for graduating STEM students. 

by Terrence Dove |


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Calling all employers Are you an employer looking for great ways to share your company's new job opportunities for an incredible career in STEM?


Let us help you!  Post job openings  Connect with qualified candidates  Become a featured employer If you are ready, visit


Career Communications Group, Inc. | 729 East Pratt St., Suite 504 | Baltimore, MD 21202 | (410) 244-7101 |

The Power of Diversity GE is committed to employing a diverse workforce throughout the world, and to providing all employees with opportunities to reach their growth potential and contribute to the progress of the communities we serve. Our achievements reflect a culture of meritocracy where every employee can be a leader. We believe that when one person grows and improves, we can all grow and improve—and together, we all rise. We invite you to explore opportunities at GE in engineering and computer science, which are as diverse as our culture. GE is a digital industrial high tech infrastructure company, building the machines that build, move, power and cure the world. If you want to make a difference and be a part of something big, explore your next career move at


GE offers a great work environment, professional development, challenging careers, and competitive compensation. GE is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Employment decisions are made without regard to race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, protected veteran status or other characteristics protected by law.

Chanda Sanders Material and Process Engineer


At Boeing, people with diverse backgrounds and talents work together to take aerospace to new heights. Join us and make aerospace even better. Boeing is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Employment decisions are made without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, physical or mental disability, genetic factors, military/veteran status or other characteristics protected by law.

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Women of Color Volume 17 Issue 1  

Women of Color is the leading publication for today's career women in business and technology.

Women of Color Volume 17 Issue 1  

Women of Color is the leading publication for today's career women in business and technology.

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