When You Put 600+ Techies of Color in a Room, Magic Happens
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Platform Summit 2015 - an annual convening of "the most powerful, influential, inspiring, and world-changing speakers and attendees" - hosted at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference lived up to its promise of connecting over 600 of the world's top innovators and thought-leaders, all unified with the purpose of diversifying the innovation economy.
The keynote talks touched on topics of innovation in education tech, health tech, and robotics, and left attendees with considerations about how people of color can acquire startup capital and what's to come in the future of the innovation economy. The list of fascinating speakers included Senior VP at Alphabet David Drummond, Senior VP at Coca-Cola Emmanuel Seuge, robotics engineer Ayana Howard, investment officer and former exec at BET and MTV Denmark West, attorney and philanthropist Star Jones, CEO of Twitter and Square Jack Dorsey, and numerous startup founders and innovation leaders. While discussion at the conference often led to the issue of the lack of diversity in tech and in Silicon Valley, the summit was primarily centered around encouraging conversations about the awe-inspiring work of women and people of color across the country.
Being a Black woman in tech, it is difficult to find people that look like me. On the one hand, it's frustrating to look into the industry and see that women and people of color are less valued in tech. But on the other hand, the poor diversity statistics keep me optimistic about the opportunity for me to face this challenge and really make a mark in the tech industry as a UX designer and startup co-founder. Platform Summit reinforced my optimism by providing a platform (pun intended) for hundreds of innovators who look like me to "get, give and connect". I am truly touched by the sense of family that was created at the summit. From the thought-provoking conversations that I had with fellow attendees and the keynote speakers, to the free flow of guidance and advice that was offered, to the opportunity to simply just bounce ideas off of another forward-thinker, it was amazing to be embraced by this community.
Although the weather in Atlanta was dreary, the energy during the entire conference weekend was incredible. Perhaps it was the influence of Southern hospitality in our environment, or maybe it was the mutual admiration and respect us attendees had for one another as innovators; nonetheless, I left Platform Summit 2015 with motivation, hope, new friends, and a reignited passion for tech.