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SnackWalls

Mike Roberts

Attract and retain diverse talent in technology the right way.
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On today's show we sat down with a fellow DJ turned tech professional. Be the first of all your friends to hear this fresh new episode of SnackWalls!

While the tech industry is still heavily dominated by male staff, Andrew has found that in his current position, finding diverse talent hasn't been much of a hurdle. It helps that he works at a university where there is a diverse selection of students coming through every year. Andrew thinks that the push to remove CS degree requirements for software engineering roles is a good move. There was a time when people needed to be in a university setting to learn about computer science, however that is not the case anymore. An apprenticeship model, for example, would work in tech because it provides hands on experience that is invaluable and often cannot be taught through coursework alone. In order to retain diverse talent, Andrew would advise companies to be upfront about their views and policies on diversity. The company culture and hiring processes should reflect this commitment so that every employee is on the same page.

Andrew DeGarmo is an experienced Web Development leader with a history of working in private, government (DOD) and nonprofit industries. He strives to foster a team environment where progress and accountability are front and center. With a BS in Computer Information Systems, Systems Security, he weighs in on Information Security and Assurance conversations regularly. On a personal level Andrew lives for music and so he launched a boutique record label and DJs professionally. He possesses a certificate in Music Production from the Berklee College of Music.

SnackWalls is powered by San Diego Code School: https://sdcs.io

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Today we sit down with Brandon White, a successful tech entrepreneur who shares some wisdom he has learned on his journey.

Brandon thinks finding diverse talent in tech is challenging mainly because the industry is predominantly comprised of males. When building teams, he has actively recruited women because they often bring a different perspective to the group. While he believes the best applicant for the job should always be hired, he realizes that in many cases, the best person isn't getting an opportunity to apply because they may not know about the position. In today's world, Brandon does not see a traditional college degree as a necessity to become a software engineer. How someone learns their skills is of little importance if the applicant can demonstrate their aptitude. An apprenticeship, for example, is a great way to build experience and learn practical skills that can’t be taught in a classroom. Brandon’s has found that there are three major factors to retaining diverse staff. First, employers should appreciate and recognize their staff for the contributions they add to an organization. Secondly, employees should have flexibility in their work schedule, where the emphasis is on getting the job done not working from 9 to 5. Finally, everyone deserves to be paid a fair wage for their work.

Brandon White is an entrepreneur with two successful exits (so far) under his belt. He's worked for two venture capital firms, in Marketing at a $200B Internet company, and has been CEO of venture backed companies. He's been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Success Magazine, Fast Company and many others. Brandon is also the host of Build A Business Success Secrets Podcast for Entrepreneurs, where he shares his knowledge and experience.

SnackWalls is powered by San Diego Code School: https://sdcs.io

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Having a case of the Mondays? Today's guest is sure to help kick start your week. L. Michelle Smith is an executive business coach, accomplished author, and empowering figure who brought a refreshing perspective to the show. Enjoy!

Finding diverse talent is not a challenge, but many companies just don't know where to look. From L. Michelle’s experience, the middle of the leadership pipeline is spewing out overqualified and high performing women of all backgrounds that can be easily recruited. She believes that the current systems in place to join the workforce are ingrained with implicit bias. It is exciting to see large software companies begin to break the paradigm (ex. required CS degrees) and find new ways to be more inclusive. L. Michelle has found that many companies get shortsighted when they think of filling the pipeline with diverse candidates for entry level roles only. Add seats to the board of directors and fill them with people of color. Then move down in the organization and continue diversifying. Once your leadership team is set, then it is more likely that apprenticeships and other programs will be successful. To retain diverse talent, she believes the key is to focus on women and other marginalized groups. Studies have shown that women of color, specifically Black women, are double outsiders in companies simply because of their chromosomes and melanin. Leaders in organizations need to go over and beyond their comfort level to make sure that talented people of marginalized groups are not overlooked.

L. Michelle Smith is the CEO/founder of no silos communications llc a media and consulting company that blends talent development and strategic communications to develop high-performing, women executive leaders. She is the author of No Thanks: 7 Ways to Say I’ll Just Include Myself: A Guide to Rockstar Leadership for Women of Color in the Workplace. L. Michelle is also the creator, executive producer and host of The Culture Soup Podcast® which is heard in 38 countries and has been consistently at the top of the rankings on Apple Podcasts in the Business/Business News and Business/Entrepreneurship categories.

SnackWalls is powered by San Diego Code School: https://sdcs.io

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Happy December! We are officially in the home stretch of 2020. As these next few weeks start getting busy, don't forget to tune into your favorite podcast for some great guests and positive vibes!

Erin believes that finding diverse talent doesn't have to be challenging for companies. There are plenty of people from non traditional backgrounds that are hungry and curious to break into the tech industry. However, many of these candidates are intimidated from applying to positions when the job description is looking for a “magical unicorn” candidate with unrealistic experience. She has found that a computer science degree will teach the theory behind computers, but it is not necessary for entry level software roles. There are alternative methods (bootcamp programs, online resources, etc..) to learn the necessary skills and help gain the hands on experience to start working in tech. Erin thinks that an apprenticeship pattern can be applied to technical roles if a company has a culture and values to support the program. She believes that in order to recruit and retain diverse talent, companies need to establish a culture that listens and adapts to their employees needs. People should feel encouraged to grow both professionally and personally within their workplace.

Erin Orstrom is a technology professional with 3+ years of experience in software development, business analysis, and 1+ year of product ownership. She excels at liaising between the business and the developers to translate requirements comprehensively between the two parties. Erin enjoys working with others to understand their challenges and implement solutions which create more positive and intuitive user experiences. She is currently serving as a Product Owner at naviHealth.

SnackWalls is powered by San Diego Code School: https://sdcs.io

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Episode 7-0!!!! That's 70 episodes worth of amazing guests. Today is no different as we have Pariss Athena, the creator of the the #BlackTechTwitter movement. Enjoy

Pariss believes it is difficult to find diverse talent when you do not personally have a diverse network. However, recruiters can find this talent if they are willing to branch out, network, and engage with people outside of their communities. She thinks that removing CS degree requirements from software roles is the equitable and right thing to do. Many people of color do not have the opportunity of going to college, but can still learn the skills necessary to be successful as a developer through alternative routes. Pariss is a fan of implementing apprenticeship programs within tech companies. It is a great way for someone who is just entering the industry to learn how the company operates, what tech stacks are used, and how teams collaborate. To retain diverse talent, Pariss would advise companies to survey how their staff feels about the current inclusivity and equity practices. Then work on making actionable steps towards constant improvement. Any policies, practices, or procedures that are implemented must be rooted in the foundation of the company and its culture.

Pariss Athena is the Founder & CEO of Black Tech Pipeline, a platform bringing exposure, resources, and opportunities to Black Technologists. She is the creator of the movement and community #BlackTechTwitter, a global movement that brought exposure to the existing Black community in tech.

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Happy Monday, I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. This new episode of SnackWalls pairs well with a helping of leftovers, enjoy!

Michelle has noticed that the diverse talent companies are looking for can be found overseas. Our current school system is not producing enough people to match the demand of the tech jobs here in the US. She doesnt think that a CS degree should be mandatory for software engineering roles because this requirement would exclude talented people that might otherwise be a good fit for the role. A degree should be listed on the “nice to have” list and employers should incentivize these candidates with a pay bump. Michelle believes that an apprenticeship pattern in tech would help with the talent supply shortage we face in the US. The next generation of workforce employees are growing up in a different world and might do well with a more hands-on-approach to training. From her experience, the best way to retain diverse employees in an organization is to treat them equally with everyone else.

Michelle Barnard is a results-driven human resources professional recognized for success in recruiting high-caliber candidates and repeatedly exceeding placement goals. She works as a Senior Recruiter for Kelly Services and also runs a website (MB Job Seeker Advice) with career services and resources for active job seekers. Aside from being an HR professional, Michelle is a talented tarot card reader.

SnackWalls is powered by San Diego Code School: https://sdcs.io

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With Thanksgiving being tomorrow, we would like to say thanks to all our wonderful guests who engage with us in meaningful conversations and our listeners that tune in every show. It’s been an... interesting year (to say the least), but I think the majority of us still have plenty to give thanks for.

Brennan believes finding diverse talent is as hard as you make it. In order to be successful, a company must make a priority to build diversity into their organization and create opportunities for their employees to grow. When scouting for talent, he believes that companies should be focused on hiring good people who are energetic and passionate about the business, not necessarily someone who has a specific educational background. Once a candidate is identified with the right soft skills, that individual can be trained and allowed to grow into the right roles. Brennan likes the idea of using the apprenticeship pattern for tech positions because it gives both the apprentice and the employer an opportunity to determine if they are a good fit for one another. It's a low risk way to test drive from both parties. In regards to retaining diverse talent, Brennan thinks it is critical for companies to talk about the career opportunities that are open to employees from day one.

Brennan Decker is the Loyalty Program Manager and Product Owner at Finish Line where he has worked for over 17 years starting in retail and working his way up to a corporate position. He also serves as the Chairman of the Board for Hav A Sole, a 501c3 non profit who provides the homeless and at risk youth with quality footwear to encourage healthier lifestyles and prevent disease. Brennan is in the process of launching ProductLeader.tech, an online resource dedicated to current and aspiring product leaders.

SnackWalls is powered by San Diego Code School: https://sdcs.io

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Mondays seem to hit extra hard on short weeks. The only remedy for this is a solid helping of SnackWalls! Enjoy

David has found that finding diverse talent can be difficult depending on an organization's diversity strategy. Companies who succeed at recruiting this talent, are open about looking for diverse candidates and are willing to establish talent pools with individuals from various areas. David has experienced how degree requirements can pose a barrier for growth to individuals entering the tech industry. In today’s world where many software technologies can be self taught, candidates should be evaluated by their accomplishments not by a piece of paper. If someone has gained the experience necessary to do a job, they should at least be considered for the position. Whether it be vocational schools, apprenticeships, or other programs, there are alternative methods to successfully gain knowledge and experience that don't come from a college degree. David believes the best way to retain diverse candidates is by establishing a culture from the top down, that is inclusive and welcoming to all employees. Similar to how a business is expected to treat their customers with respect and consideration, companies should share this attitude with their employees, partners, or anyone else they work with.

David Strausser is the General Manager of the Northeast Region at Vision33, an award winning, certified Gold SAP Partner for small to midsized enterprise (SME) solutions. He works hand-in-hand with SMEs to understand their challenges and recommend solutions that help their businesses grow fast, run simple, and increase revenues. David is also the host of Shark Bite Biz, a podcast dedicated to helping small businesses pivot during the global coronavirus pandemic and achieve growth.

SnackWalls is powered by San Diego Code School: https://sdcs.io

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Can you believe Thanksgiving is next week? It's going to be a bit hectic for all of us, but don't forget to tune in for next episodes of your favorite podcast!

Tia would agree that it can be a challenge to find diverse talent in the cybersecurity space. She has noticed that the number of diverse candidates is typically limited. When Tia evaluates job applicants, her focus is on what an individual can do, is capable of learning, and what they are passionate about more so than the letters that come after their name. She believes that the apprenticeship model will work in the cyber security field because learning by doing is an effective way to learn how to apply theoretical knowledge in real life situations. An apprenticeship can go a long way in driving a candidates confidence and helping them understand what concepts are important to learn. To retain diverse staff, specifically in technical roles, it is important to keep employees aware of their contributions to the organization. People are also looking to be challenged and get feedback on their performance. Furthermore companies need to have policies in place to make individuals with diverse backgrounds feel welcomed and supported in the workplace.

Tia Hopkins is the VP of Global Solutions Engineering at eSentire and an Adjunct Professor in Cybersecurity at Yeshiva University. She founded Empow(H)er Cybersecurity, an inclusive organization focused on diversifying the cybersecurity talent pipeline by empowering, mentoring, educating, and providing career guidance and opportunities for women of color. Tia is a technology sales engineering leader with a strong technical background and proven track record for implementing and supporting a wide range of technology solutions. She is especially interested in cybersecurity as it relates to the human factor and how basic human nature largely contributes to the success of social engineering.

SnackWalls is powered by San Diego Code School: https://sdcs.io

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Hitting a mid week wall? Recharge your batteries with this latest episode of SnackWalls, enjoy!

Natasha believes the lack of diversity in tech is a systemic issue. Historically people of color were not necessarily encouraged in their early schooling to pursue STEM careers. If Black and Brown people are unaware of the roles and different opportunities available in tech, then they are less likely to pursue these jobs. Natasha can understand why some companies would want their software engineers to have a CS degree. However, she believes it is more important to focus on a candidate's skills and whether they can get the job done. If a job applicant is self-trained and understands how to get the job done, then the educational piece is just a barrier to entry. The apprenticeship model would be a great way to bring people into tech who may not understand the different opportunities available. If implemented properly, there should be a two way sharing of information and innovation that benefits both the organization and the apprentice. Natasha has found the key to retaining diverse talent is to create a fostering and nurturing environment where employees get resources, support and they have a pathway for elevation in their career, as well as the opportunity to innovate.

Natasha Nurse is a coach, speaker, and content creator who helps people actualize their purpose in their careers and personal life. She is a Global D&I Specialist at TaskUs and the founder of Dressing Room 8, an online platform dedicated to helping women find empowerment. Natasha is the Co-Creator and Co-Host of the WokeNFree podcast which provides a glimpse into the minds of a couple with a different take on hot topics.

SnackWalls is powered by San Diego Code School: https://sdcs.io

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