Ford Gives Back > Tech Like Me

Tech-Like-Me
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The advancement of technology continues at the speed of light, accelerating time and the creation of social and mobile solutions beyond our wildest dreams. As fast as technology evolves, however, it is imperative that it includes the thought and brilliant solutions of those traditionally underrepresented in the industry.

With Tech Like Me, Ford Fund celebrates African Americans who have blazed trails in the tech industry with fearlessness and flair; and provided insight and information about careers in the tech industries.

Marlin Williams

Marlin Williams

Who Am I

Marlin Williams
Founder
Sisters Code

Vice President for Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
StockX

My name is Marlin Williams and I am currently serving as the vice president for Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for StockX, which is a global company headquartered in Detroit. I am also the founder of an organization called Sisters Code.

 

What I do

At Sister’s Code, our mission is to awaken the mature geek. We empower women ages 25 and older to explore the world of coding and technology. Essentially, we are motiving them to get out of their own way and try something new.

I think a lot of people sometimes they think, “Well, I'm too old.” My thing is, you're never too old to learn something new or acquire a new skill. Some people don't find what it is that they're truly great at until they are older. You could be a senior and find your passion. I had a student and she was 62 at the time. And I think she might have been forced into early retirement. But she came through our class and kept coming and coming. And then she would go off and do other things. But eventually, she opened a small business where she created websites for churches. She just recreated her life.

What Tech means to me

I would say my definition of tech is that it is a game/life changer. And it is a great equalizer. The reason I say that is because there are so many rooms that I know that I would not have been in if couldn't speak the language of technology.

Getting into the field of technology changed everything. It changed the way I was able to travel from place to place. I became one of the main speakers from Microsoft Corporation on a global level. They were flying me all over the world to talk about tech. I wouldn't have been able to do those things if it were not for tech being a game changer . . . a life changer.

What advice do I have for someone who is interested in my career or field

I would say it's a hybrid. It's not cookie cutter, let me say that. Some people are going to go to college and get a degree in technology - that's definitely a way to do it. There are some people who went to college like me and got a degree but not in technology. And there are a number of people who I know and icons that we look at who never went to college. So I would say, you want to find what's best for you. Go and see if you even like it. There are online platforms that you can go in right now and just start learning to code for free; programs like mine or so many others. And especially in the midst of COVID, you can go online now and do just about everything.

I always tell people go in try it out first. 

Also, having a mentor or someone to guide you and your career is something that would be of value. If you’re just starting out and don’t know exactly where you want go, mentorship is important. But it's not just for people starting out. I have a mentor now.

What Skills are needed to succeed in my field

The skills needed depends. I know some people who think, “I don't want to go into technology because I'm an extrovert. I don't want to sit behind a desk.” And I'm like, “Do you understand that you could be a project manager?” But being a project manager, you also need to know the technology you’re going to talk about.

You can actually teach technology. How awesome is that! Then, there are some people who definitely want to sit behind a desk and crunch the data. So their skill set is going to be different. They need to be more analytical. That's the thing about technology – It is so expansive.

I wouldn't say that there's one thing that anyone needs from a personality perspective. I know for me, if I had to sit on a desk all day, I would probably roll on the floor. That's not going to work me.

This is where you own your career. There are programs that are always looking for people to teach or be a teaching assistant or mentor. That's the way you can use your skills outside of your job. Don't just think it has to be within your job. There are other things that you can do to hone some of those skills.

Scott Mason

Scott Mason

Who Am I

I am Scott Mason, a Sales Engineer for a global video conferencing solutions firm called StarLeaf! I am a Detroit native, now based in Chicago, and a 2016 graduate of Lake Forest College in Computer Science!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I do

I am responsible for engineering technical deployments of web and video conferencing technologies for various enterprise environments. I also demonstrate my company’s proprietary web and video conferencing platforms to clients and potential customers. Prior to this role, I worked in client solutions around firewalls and cybersecurity.

What tech means to me

Tech for me means creating a seamless end-user experience. Growing up, I was someone who fixed friends’ phones and computers and installed family audio/visual systems. Even then, my goal was to always augment user capabilities with technology while simultaneously making tech more user-friendly. Now, I just get paid to do what I have always loved doing, but for companies!

What skills are needed to succeed in my field

Beyond the technical skills, which can be self-taught or learned in school, people interested in tech really need to be focused on their customers and on a positive user-experience. Being customer-focused is obviously important when working in client service like I do. However, it is also important when working internally in a company’s IT department or working on technologies that will ultimately be used by the public. Tech was designed to improve our lives and build human capacity. Technology and its ambassadors should never be complicating our lives or making things harder.

What advice do I have for someone who is interested in my career or field

Combine your technical education with a global orientation. The opportunities in tech are far greater when you are open to and pursue global study and career opportunities! I studied abroad in Japan during college, and then worked for an Israeli firm right after college that required months-long training in Tel Aviv. Now, I work for a British firm and travel to London for trainings and meetings. I have made friends around the world, and most importantly, learned similarities and differences with how users around the world interact with technology.  

Cynthia Williams

Cynthia Williams

Who Am I

Cynthia Williams
Global Director, Sustainability, Homologation &
Compliance

Ford Motor Company

 

 

 

 

 

What I do

Lead a global team that develops sustainable business plans and policies, negotiates with environmental regulatory bodies around the world, ensures compliance with environmental regulations, report the company’s environmental and social performance, and engages with non-government organizations and other key external stakeholders.

What tech means to me

Tech is all around us. It allows us to be our creative selves and unleashes infinite opportunities – no boundaries. Tech brings together design thinking and connects the creative mind to a technical spirit where there are no limits. Tech pushes us to think broader and makes our lives convenient. Tech has allowed me to connect with family and colleagues across the globe, it helps you to break glass ceiling and inspires the next generation to create tools to advance the future. Tech improves the quality of life through scientific breakthroughs in medicine, communication, computing and soon driverless cars.

What skills are needed to succeed in my field

Problem solving, strategic thinking, negotiation, fearlessness, collaboration and teamwork.   The ability to listen to the team is very important and incorporate their ideas to make the end product better.  Encourage yourself and others to take risks.  Think and operate outside of the box.  Be willing to change and adapt quickly.  To achieve a desirable outcome, understand the common ground and collaborate to achieve the result.

What advice do I have for someone who is interested in my career field

Make sure you have an engineering and business foundation.  Intern in college to ensure that you love the field.  Network early and seek out mentors. Be inquisitive and always look for the better solution.

Earl Lucas

Earl Lucas

Who Am I

Earl Lucas
Chief Designer
Lincoln Motor Company

My name is Earl Lucas and I am a Chief Designer for the Lincoln Motor Company. The father of three children and a husband to a beautiful and considerate wife - Jackie. I am a strong believer of a higher power and believe in the golden rule.

What I do

My job responsibilities within Lincoln, include being part of the team that designs the exterior and interior sanctuaries of all Lincoln products, assisting in the brand definition and fostering a creative environment for all design staff. I believe that it is my job to create compelling products, giving our customers a compelling experience and products that enrich our customers lives. Having a vision of the future as it relates to the overall Lincoln brand is essential in my day to day work task. I interface with all of Product Development departments to ensure that the Studio design intent is delivered to our customers and that the final product captures the ethos of the brand.

What Tech means to me

Tech by my understanding in new technology that will advance our brand into the unknown future. However the future means nothing without the people advancing with it. Giving and helping others, sharing our life journey/experiences with different generations and cultivating tomorrows minds is more important than any progression of man-made objects. I believe that those who know bear the responsibility to teach and what the future needs the most is humanity.

What Skills are needed to succeed in my field

The skill mostly needed in my career is the ability to image a different tomorrow but with the help of the entire enterprise. The creative skills set of being able to draw, define shapes and communicate the brand are fundamental to the job but always with an understanding that we have to create products as a team. To be a successful designer with the Lincoln brand is to know the brand but be willing to share and receive content to advance the brand forward.

What advice do I have for someone who is interested in my career field

The advice that I would give anyone who would like to peruse a career as an automotive designer is consistently and constantly feed their creativity, dream of what the future could be / should be and develop a thick skin regarding the greater team accepting your initial ideas. The greatest asset a designer has to the corporation is his or her ability to look at the a issue with a creative eye and not allowing the current solution stand in the way of the next possibility. I would also add for someone considering this career The ability to convey the next idea is not just with the two dimensional drawing or three dimensional models - but with verbal skills and the ability to get others to concur with your way of thinking.

Ken Washington

Ken Washington

Who Am I

Dr. Ken Washington
Vice President, Research & Advanced Engineering and Chief Technology Officer
Ford Motor Company

What I do

Lead global team of scientists and engineers responsible for developing and delivering new capabilities and differentiating technologies for our products and services. I also serve as the company’s Chief Technology Officer with the responsibility to lead and oversee the development and implementation of our global technology strategy. This includes tracking and proactively responding to emerging technology trends, forging strategic relationships with the broad technology community, and nurturing our company’s talent base to keep pace with game-changing technologies.

What Tech means to me

I have been doing technology research and development my entire adult life, so technology means a lot to me personally and professionally. On the personal front I aggressively seek and embrace the introduction of technology to enhance the quality of my life. This includes trying new things as an early adopter and being willing to fail and learn from those failures. Technology has a prominent role in my life to enable efficient, entertaining, safe, and high quality experiences. On the professional front I am energized when I see technology make a difference to the success of our business. This drives me every day to bring my best self to work, to challenge my team to take smart risks, and to lean into the development and advancement of technology required to delivery our business goals in now, near, and far time frames.

What Skills are needed to succeed in my field

The most important thing one needs to be successful in my field are the traits of curiosity and passion. You definitely need to have a strong core of mathematical reasoning, logic, and a fundamental understanding of the laws of physics. A college degree in engineering, computer science, mathematics, or physics will provide the core necessary skills required, but to truly thrive a person will need to layer on top of these core skills a healthy dose of curiosity, a desire to never stop learning, and a passion to understand how things work or how you can make things better.

What advice do I have for someone who is interested in my career field

Start by taking courses in school in science and math. Go beyond what is in the textbooks and the classrooms by reading about new technologies. Try them out and learn how they work – at least conceptually. Commit to being a lifelong learner, starting with teaching yourself a new skill at least every year. This can be anything – such as how to program a computer in a new language or how to knit a sweater. The act of learning will build curiosity muscles that need to be strong to be successful in the field and advanced research and technology development.

Eddie Cason

Eddie Cason

Who Am I

Eddie Cason
Owner & Chief Scientist
Amari Kai Technology

My name is Eddie Cason, everyone calls me The Wizard. I am the owner and Chief Scientist of Amari Kai Technology; we help corporations strengthen their IT Governance programs and develop QA Testing strategies for their application development initiatives. I’m a proud father of two children. I am a strong advocate for others and advancing my community.

 

What I do

I create the technologically unknown and plan for the future. As the Chief Scientist, I oversee an R&D lab where we design tailored technology products and services to support business enhancements for small businesses. We also align with corporations to streamline the areas of Identity Access Management (IAM) and application testing of enterprise systems. Prior to starting Amari Kai Tech, I worked 9 years for IBM Global Services in New York.

What tech means to me

Tech has given me a platform to express my inventive and creative ideas and visions. As a business savvy computer nerd, I view tech from a scientific lens. Tech allows me to support and advise entrepreneurs and start-ups around business processes and management. It means I can help organizations in my community better serve their demographics. For example, a local non-profit came to my lab to develop an app that alerts families when food pantries are available in their area. In today’s global landscape, tech is the vehicle to develop limitless financial opportunities, especially for African Americans.

What skills are needed to succeed in my field

Maximize your strengths and improve upon your weaknesses. Learn how to design software to improve hardware features. If you’re pursuing the core technical route, become well versed in the development platforms and tools to design software and products for various mediums i.e. web, mobile and desktop. If you prefer implementing plans and driving ideas, you may want to consult. Develop a true understanding of the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) and process management methods and tools.

What advice do I have for someone who is interested in my career or field

Have a vision for how you want to transform how tech is used or its impact. Is there a way you can streamline how people do necessary tasks? Can you ignite excitement in others to be early adopters of tech? Go into tech knowing your why so when the challenges come your way you have the knowledge, skillset and fortitude to press on. You can always learn the tech as long as you stay curious and coachable.

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    Marlin Williams

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    Eddie Cason

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    Scott Mason

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    Cynthia Williams

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    Earl Lucas

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    Dr Ken Washington

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    Melissa Bradley

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    Laura Weidman Powers

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