#BlackHistoryInTech – A List of Black Entrepreneurs, Technologists, and Inventors that Lead the Technology Industry

Help us build a comprehensive list of black entrepreneurs, leaders, and thinkers in tech!

It’s Black History Month in the United States, and although we highlight diversity at CA Technologies throughout the year, we thought this would be a great time to highlight the contributions of black technologists, both historically and today. While researching the many brilliant minds that have built and changed the landscape of the technology industry, it became clear to us that we would never get this blog posted in time if we tried to include everyone!

We are also featuring some of those highlighted in this blog through a series of e-cards to share on social media with the hashtag #BlackHistoryInTech. Do you know a great black technologist? Tweet us at @CA_Careers with the hashtag #BlackHistoryInTech. We will add to the blog as we receive admissions.

 

Roy Clay Sr. is a Silicon Valley pioneer, having worked as the research and development director of Hewlett-Packard (HP)’s computer division, working on the design and construction of the company’s first computers in the 1960s. He later founded Rod-L Electronics, which tests for safety in electrical equipment.

Mark Dean helped develop the once-ubiquitous IBM PC, holding three of IBM’s nine original patents. In 1999, he sought to create a voice-activated tablet, and wrote in 2011 that he uses a tablet as his primary computer. Dean is now the CTO for IBM Middle East and Africa.

Frank Greene is considered one of the first black technologists, Frank Greene developed high-speed semi-conductor computer memory systems in the 1960s. He also founded the software companies Technology Development Corp. and ZeroOne Systems, Inc.

James E. West invented the first practical electret microphone, which uses a charged material instead of needing a polarizing power supply. It is commonly used in cellphones, cameras and digital recorders around the world. West won the Benjamin Franklin Medal in electrical engineering from the Franklin Institute in 2010.

Shirley Ann Jackson was the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. from MIT (specializing in Physics), Dr. Jackson is currently the President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, one of the Top 50 universities in the U.S. (according to U.S. News & World Report). While working at Bell Labs, she applied her knowledge of physics to make advances in telecommunications, including developments in solar cell, touch tone phones, and helped make Caller ID and call waiting.

Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson

Otis Boykin patented a type of resistor in 1959 that is still used today in radios, televisions and computers, which control the flow of electricity into components. This makes for products that are safer, longer lasting and cheaper. He also invented a control unit for the pacemaker. In all, Boykin was granted 28 patents for electronic devices: Some of them are still used in the military and in consumer products.

Dr. Philip Emeagwali was the inventor of the world’s fastest computer. Emeagwali took knowledge gained from his study of nature and bees and applied the efficiency of their honeycomb structure to create powerful computer processing. Using this construction, in 1989, the “Father of the Internet” used 65,000 processors to build the world’s fastest computer, one that performs computations at 3.1 billion calculations per second.

Dr. Philip Emeagwali

John Henry Thompson taught himself several computer programming languages as a young man. With a degree from MIT in Computer Science and Art, his goal was to merge art and technology. His most famous invention is Lingo: a scripting language that helps create visuals in computer programs. Lingo and other programs he pioneered are used in many programs and apps with interactive graphics, animation, sound, and video. Lingo has also been used to create the flash and shockwave programs that are now prevalent in video games, web design, animation, and graphics.

Gerald A. Lawson created the first home video game system that used interchangeable cartridges, offering gamers a chance to play a variety of games and giving video game makers a way to earn profits by selling individual games, a business model that exists today. Lawson, who died last year at age 70, is just beginning to be recognized by the gaming industry for his pioneering work.

Dixie Garr served as Cisco Systems’ vice president of customer success engineering for seven years. She drove change throughout the company’s engineering processes and business practices to better help the needs of customers around the world. She has been awarded several honors, including the 1997 Black Engineer of the Year Award.

Valerie Thomas honed her skills at NASA, where she and her team developed the first satellite to send images from space (Landsat). She also worked on computer programs used for research on Halley’s Comet and the ozone hole. In the mid-’70s, she began experimenting with concave mirrors and finally patented a 3-D Illusion Transmitter in 1980. Today, NASA uses the technology, doctors use it for medical imaging, and when you watch your 3-D television, thank Valerie Thomas.

Marc Hannah is one of the founders of the software firm Silicon Graphics (now SGI), where the special-effects genius developed 3-D graphics technology that would be used in many Hollywood movies, including Jurassic Park. He was almost instrumental in designing the Nintendo 64 gaming system.

Will Lucas founded brand marketing technology company Creadio back in 2003. He recently launched Classana, an educational resource discovery engine. Lucas is also the organizer behind TedXToledo, which is now in its second year.

Stacy Spikes is the co-founder of MoviePass, one of the most exciting things to happen to the movie business in a while. It’s essentially Netflix for movies still playing in theaters. Before co-founding MoviePass, Spikes was a long-time marketing executive who recently delved into the tech world. He’s considered one of the leaders of film entertainment marketing. Before starting MoviePass, Spikes founded the Urbanworld Film Festival, which is now the largest of its kind in the world. Urbanworld has premiered more #1 films than any other North American Film Festival, including Sundance and Tribeca.

Stacy Spikes Black History in Tech

Hamet Watt is the other co-founder of MoviePass and a former entrepreneur in residence at True Ventures. Before co-founding MoviePass alongside Stacy Spikes, he founded full-service media buying platform NextMedium, and health app bLife.

Don Charlton has changed the way hiring gets done online with his company, The Resumator. During the most recent presidential election, both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney used The Resumator to handle all of the job applications coming in. Before founding The Resumator, Charlton established himself as an award-winning interactive designer.

Majora Carter recently opened up a new startup incubator and tech education center in South Bronx to foster entrepreneurship. There is a dramatic shortage of engineering talent in the U.S. labor force, and we want to fill that gap with people who could otherwise end up in the criminal justice and welfare systems,” she recently told Fast Company. She says most of the talent in the South Bronx either leaves or doesn’t get “nurtured into something positive.” In 2010, Carter was touted as one of the 100 most creative people in business. She’s also a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster.

Kimberly Bryant wants to ensure that young black girls have the opportunity to learn how to code. In 2011, Bryant founded BlackGirlsCode, a six-week program that teaches basic programming concepts, and gives underrepresented youths the chance to learn about robotics, and a wide range of other technological concepts. Before founding BlackGirlsCode, Bryant spent about decade in biotechnology where she held several management roles at companies including Genentech, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, and Merck.

Jon Gosier is the mastermind behind data analysis startup MetaLayer, global innovation consultancy Appfrica, and non-profit organizations HiveColab and Abayima.  Gosier is a senior fellow at TED who has given talks on topics including the democratization of data platforms and social currency.

Tony Guada’s Bitcasa entered the online storage market with a major point of differentiation: infinite storage for its users. Gauda launched Bitcasa at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference back in 2011. Gauda and his co-founder have been able to attract $7 million funding from some of the most well-respected venture capital firms in the business, including Horizon Ventures, Andreessen-Horowitz, and First Round Capital. Gauda previously engineered fraud protection systems at Mastercard.

Emmitt McHenry co-founded Network Solutions, Inc., one of the early leading Internet domain services providers. In 1995, he founded NetCom Solutions International, a telecommunications and engineering company that has won awards from IBM and NASA, among other places.

Rachel Duran

 

 

 

 

 

Rachel Duran

Work-Life Balance… Is Having It All A Myth?

4 Tips for Creating Better Work-Life Balance

It’s a big scary world out there, and somehow, we’re tasked with managing the many peaks and valleys along our individual journeys. If you’re anything like me, balance is what you’re constantly striving for. It’s like the gold at the end of the rainbow, or finding Big Foot. Sometimes it seems too good to be true, or just not real. But it is. I promise you. It takes some time, some gumption, some patience, and trust.

We’ve all had times in our careers where the scales seem to tip and sometimes break, which is never a good thing. It can cause anxiety, delays in delivering your product, a drop in quality of work, and potential drop in confidence. Plus, you lose that thing called a life. Which, take it from me, is no good. So, how do you find balance? Here are some of the lessons and tips I’ve learned throughout my career which has helped me find my balance, think less about working so hard to find it, and focus on work-life integration:

Organisation is Key

Look, I get it. It’s not always easy to stay organised. I recently had some constructive feedback shared with me that highlighted sometimes when I’m stressed or my plate is too full, I can become slightly ‘crazed’ and disorganised. At first, I had a moment (in my head) not dissimilar to my two-year-old’s tantrums, but then I realised, you know what, they were right. Ask yourself when prepping for your next day at work: Have I written down and actioned my to-do’s? Am I as prepared as I can be for tomorrow? Do I have to follow up with anyone today? Have I laid out my clothes for tomorrow? These are really simple things, that can help you stay organised, save time, and provide you one piece of that oh-so-coveted balance.

Schedule ‘You’ Time & Unplug

Do you take a full hour lunch? Do you ever turn your devices off and focus on ‘the now’? Having some ‘you time’ built into your day can help clear your head, keep you organised (see tip 1), and overall give your brain a rest. It also helps you to focus your time on your family, friends, your special interests outside of work, and can actually HELP you to be creative and apply any of your ‘you time’ thoughts to your job. I actually schedule 15 minutes of ‘Think Time’ each day, where I’m away from my computer and phone and focus on the elements of my day that need the most focus. It allows me to take a step back and re-prioritise my day/to do’s/etc.

Just Breathe (Woosah)

Sometimes things just get so busy you don’t know what to do. Trust me, I’ve been there. Whether strategy and budget planning, a brand new project kicked off, or it’s the end of the year – it can get crazy. Remember, take a breath. Just do one thing at a time. It will all get done. You’re organised, you’ve taken your ‘You Time’ and have a plan of action and are geared for success. Meditation is not for everyone, but breathing is. Just remember to take a step back, think about your priorities, breathe and go. We have such an amazing and close-knit Talent Acquisition team who truly lives by the CA Mission and helps me to get back to my ‘Woosah’ place when its needed.

Forget Being Perfect

No one, I repeat, no one is perfect – so why should you be? Being perfect puts a lot of pressure on yourself, plus can take more time to deliver your work. Are you being efficient when trying to be perfect? Probably not. Are you stressing yourself out, spending more time at work, and less time on you?  Probably. I was recently doing a bit of research for this post and found this quote from a Forbes.com article,  “As you climb the ladder at work and as your family grows, your responsibilities mushroom. Perfectionism becomes out of reach, and if that habit is left unchecked, it can become destructive…”. And do I know that to be true. I wish I could do it all, and all at once. I tried it…it worked for all of 5 minutes, and then I crashed, burned and was completely burnt out. You can be great and you don’t need to be perfect to do so.

Finding your balance isn’t easy. I’ve started to integrate my life with my work in some areas such as sending my son to our Montessori Programme, which I wrote about in an earlier post. No one way is the magic key to solve the ever-so-tricky question of work-life balance, but you can find the key that works best for you and find your happy place.

 

 

 

 

Hello Again Boomerang – Meet Isabel Botha, former CA Employee Alumni Returning to Rewrite Career

Boomerang: Australian throwing club, childhood toy, and…former employees? Yes. Strategic re-hiring is becoming an important part of many companies’ talent practice.

Boomerang hires play an incredible role in organisations today showcasing the organisation as an awesome place to work, and, not to mention…they are FANTASTIC brand ambassadors. At CA we LOVE our employee alumni, having recently launched a new alumni program where past employees can stay connected. But, what we love even more – when those very talented alums decide to return to CA. Whether for the benefits, our position on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, or the amazing ways that CA is Rewriting the Application Economy, we are seeing a surge in former employees saying ‘Hello Again.’

I recently had the pleasure to visit our Sydney office and caught up with Isabel Botha, a former colleague who helped us to tell the CA Story when we were launching our new career website. I was excited to learn that she was also a recent “boomerang” who decided to return to CA after some time away.

How did you first join CA?

“I migrated to Australia in 2005. After predominantly practising construction law in South Africa, Botswana and the UK, I wanted to join the IT industry and opted to take on an in-house counsel role at CA in June 2007. It was a great time to join CA as a lawyer, as the industry was changing as was CA’s culture and CA was committed to best-in-class controls and compliance. There was a renewed sense of vigour, enthusiasm and dedication to becoming one of the world’s most successful software companies.”

Why did you choose to come back to CA?

“After 7 years at CA as legal counsel I was offered a role as Corporate Counsel for Australia and New Zealand at a leading global provider of business collaboration and communications solutions. I was heartbroken to leave CA but at the time it felt like the right thing to do. On paper it was the perfect job, I was well paid and at a convenient location. But something was missing … camaraderie. I missed the passion, I missed the rollercoaster ride, I missed feeling a part of something, I missed CA.

A role in the Customer Portfolio team had just become available. I didn’t hesitate, I jumped. And as they say, the rest is history.

I love my new role and I love being back at CA. I don’t know what the future holds but I know I will remain a member of the CA family.”

As a working mum, how has CA played a role in balancing work/life?

“I’m fortunate to be mum to Kira (4.5yrs) and Tahlia (2.5yrs). As a migrant I don’t have any family support here in Australia and my in-laws are interstate so I can honestly say that CA has played a central role in me being a working mum.

Kira has been in CA’s Montessori Childcare Centre since her first birthday and Tahlia since she was six months old. It is quite surreal knowing that they are just a few floors below me so it is great to be able to pop down to read a story during book week or to take a photo with Santa or a fire truck, and of course if they fall sick I’m right here to pick them up.

I do have a demanding role, especially at quarter end, which I need to balance with my home life. At CA I am respected as a professional and am trusted to complete my tasks and achieve my goals at times that are opportune.

The culture at CA is, bar none, we help each other out and understand the challenges that we all face. Not all of us are parents, but we all have conflicting interests that we need to balance with our work life.”

What really makes CA stand out in the marketplace?

“In my mind CA is not a company, CA is a living, breathing organism. It is kind and can be intense, but most of all it is a fighter. When you look at the ‘top places to work’ they focus on benefits. CA offers great benefits too but in my opinion, CA’s culture and the commitment of CA’s Executive Team to make CA a truly remarkable software company is what makes CA stand out in the marketplace.”

Our very own Craig Fisher recently blogged about the courtship of boomerangs and the #NewWayToWork. As the marketplace evolves, our alumni, current employees, and future candidates are also evolving. At CA we are constantly evolving the way we attract talent and stay connected to future candidates. Isabel sums it up best; CA is a ‘living breathing organism,’ always evolving and positioned to Rewrite the future.

Welcome back!