Celebrating Black History Month in IT: Getting Started in the IT Business

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Celebrating Black History Month in IT: Getting Started in the IT Business

by Darryl Taft

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Diversity at IBM

Photo: Ron Glover, Vice President, Diversity, IBMIBM has perhaps one of the broadest diversity programs in the industry. In last year's eWEEK slide show, IBM had the highest representation of blacks in senior management positions.IBM has a long history of commitment to diversity and has consistently taken the lead on diversity policies long before it was required by law. It began in the mid-20th century, grounded in Equal Opportunity legislation and compliance, and later focused on eliminating barriers. IBM is committed to building a workforce as broad and diversified as the customer base it serves in more than 170 countries around the world. To ensure that talented people can contribute at the highest possible level, IBM insists on a workplace that is free of discrimination and harassment and full of opportunity for all people. IBM has created and maintained a culture and environment in...

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No Title

Blacks in Technology (BIT)Photos: At left: Greg Greenlee, at right: Ronnie HashThe mission of Blacks in Technology is to deliver the most relevant and beneficial information and network for African Americans in the technology field or pursuing a career in technology; focus on creating a community in which African Americans are comfortable, motivated and inspired to pursue careers in technology; and establish effective communication between African Americans to help drive individual growth, development and long-term success in the field of technology. BIT features BITNET, an interactive social networking component similar to Facebook. BIT Forum is a repository of information. And BITCast is a video podcast series. The podcast includes application and book reviews, how-to's, questions and answers from the BIT community, live interviews, and live tutorials.

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Carter G. Startups

Carter G. Startups is a biweekly digest for African American technology entrepreneurs and startups. The name Carter G. Startups is an homage to Carter G. Woodson, an African American scholar known as the father of black history and a major proponent of black self-reliance. Carter G, Startups is the brainchild of Mikal Lewis, a former Microsoft employee who left the software giant to found a startup known as Qworky. Of the impetus for Carter G. Startups, Lewis said:"Too many black-owned businesses lack access to capital—especially in the tech field. The lack of access to capital, specifically venture and angel funding, is due to a myriad of factors, including the dearth of startup pedigree in our community. Its time to do something about that."

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Michael Lewis and Qworky

Qworky CEO and co-founder Mikal Lewis is a Windows product planning vet with entrepreneurial experience and an MBA from Florida A&M. In 2007, Lewis authored an influential ThinkWeek paper outlining a new search strategy focusing on commercial queries. Prior to leaving Microsoft in January 2010 to join Qworky, Mikal was working on Microsoft's Windows 8 Media strategy. Using his experiences at Microsoft and his own ingenuity, Lewis co-founded Qworky, a nascent technology startup based out of Seattle. The company's tagline says: "We envision better software for a better world. We're currently developing online tools for better meetings among working groups." Of his ascent at Microsoft, Lewis said: "After a year in Search Marketing, I authored a paper outlining a billion-dollar profit center in search. Bill Gates read and commented and, coupled with strategic work for a few grassroots efforts,...

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Blacks at Microsoft (BAM)

In 1989, a group of 13 African Americans banded together to form the Blacks at Microsoft (BAM). BAM was founded as the first Microsoft-sponsored diversity organization and now boasts more than 500 members. BAM maintains chapters at corporate headquarters in Redmond, Wash., as well as in Las Colinas, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; New York; Atlanta; Silicon Valley; South Africa; Kenya; and Italy. BAM's activities include the BAM Minority Student Day, an annual student day held in February to provide high school students from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds with information about the exciting tools, resources and career opportunities available to them in information technology. There is also a BAM Scholarship Program, an employee mentoring program, an African-American leadership and development conference, and a college intern mentoring program. Mitch Duncan, one of the original 13 founders of...

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Lisa Jones and EyeMail

Lisa Jones is the founder and CEO of EyeMail, which integrates audio and video to bring traditional e-mail communications to life. Jones directs and oversees the strategic road map and development of the corporation to include management of the international expansion and distributorship of the EyeMail brand worldwide. Jones was the winner of Season 1 of the CBS show "The Next Tycoon." As a startup, EyeMail epitomizes what Lewis is trying to promote in his efforts with the Carter G. Startups group. Jones went through Microsoft's BizSpark program to get her business started. BizSpark is an initiative aimed at helping startups get off the ground. EyeMail delivers personalized audio and video content directly to a user's inbox. EyeMail is designed to attract, engage and deliver compelling messages to increase click-through conversion rates and for businesses to connect with customers in a personal...

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John Obeto and Logikworx

Logikworx is the holding company for six managed services, systems and security solutions providers for SMBs focused on creating 100 percent Windows-based solutions built around Microsoft technologies for the desktop, server, mobile and cloud infrastructures. Together, they manage several hundred small businesses representing several thousand users mainly in Southern California. Obeto adheres to the entrepreneur's code and brings that spirit from Nigeria to the United States. Logikworx is based in Los Angeles and has outposts in Lagos, London, and Abidjan (in C??te d'Ivoire). Now the holding company is looking to expand beyond small business into health care, where John is bent on discovering the next new disruptive innovation—as John 3.0. He is also on his way to writing the definitive Nigerian-American sci-fi novel (John 4.0). John blogs at AbsolutelyWindows, is editor in chief of SmallBizWindows,...

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No Title

Blacks Gone GeekBlacks Gone Geek is a social networking initiative dedicated to promoting African Americans in IT. Blacks Gone Geek serves to inspire a new generation of African Americans to consider and select IT careers. Its ultimate goal is to increase African Americans participation in IT "from the classroom to the boardroom." The organization's mission is to create and proliferate a social networking culture to promote African Americans in IT by providing access to the very best talent, whenever and wherever its needed. Milt Haynes founded Blacks Gone Geek in October of 2007. Haynes uses blogs, podcasts, RSS feeds, Facebook groups, Groupsite.com, Yahoo Groups and his Website, www.blacksgonegeek.org, to network with an online community of IT professionals. Haynes has been a BDPA (Black Data Processing Associates) member for over 17 years and has served as BDPA Chicago Chapter president...

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BDPA—Black Data Processing Associates

BDPA was founded in 1975 by Earl Pace Jr. and the late David Wimberly after the two met in Philadelphia to discuss their concerns about minorities in the data processing field. There was a lack of minorities in middle and upper management, low recruitment and poor preparation of minorities for these positions, and an overall lack of career mobility. Through ceaseless drive and personal networking, the founders built an organization of 35 members, hosted presentations to improve data processing skills and launched a job opportunities announcement service. This nucleus has grown to over 55 chapters throughout the United States and thousands of members. Black Data Processing Associates has grown into the largest national professional organization representing minorities in the IT industry.

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No Title

Minorities in Technology Sales (MiTS)Minorities in Technology Sales is a not-for-profit national network of sales and sales management professionals who sell and support technology-based solutions. With a focus on identifying, addressing and overcoming the challenges that are unique to the minority experience in technical sales, the group helps its members succeed and achieve higher goals. The organization adopts a community approach to helping others grow professionally and personally. MiTS members benefit from both the strength of a national organization and the resources that a local chapter provides through ongoing seminars, lectures, career fairs and networking opportunities.Mark Hill is the founder and executive director at MiTS.

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No Title

CompTIA—the Computing Technology Industry AssociationThe CompTIA Educational Foundation provides career opportunities for individuals who historically have been under-represented in the IT workforce. With the support of individuals, industry leaders, companies and the government, the foundation creates programs aimed at helping U.S. veterans, at-risk youth, women, minorities, dislocated workers and individuals with disabilities to obtain the technical and business skills employers require. Since its creation in 1998, the foundation has helped more than 1,000 individuals enter the IT workforce, helping the industry alleviate its shortage of skilled workers. To help more African Americans enter the information technology (IT) workforce, the CompTIA Educational Foundation provided 239 African Americans with free IT training and certification last year, and another 19 received merit award scholarships...

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Sam Charrington

Charrington is vice president of product management and marketing at startup cloud infrastructure software maker Appistry. Charrington is responsible for the company's overall marketing efforts, including marketing and brand strategy, product marketing and product management. Formerly, Charrington was an early employee at Plumtree Software, where he made pivotal contributions in a variety of sales and marketing roles as the company grew from pre-revenue to over $80 million in annual income. Most recently, as director of business development, he was responsible for defining and executing the company's technology partnering strategy. Previously, Charrington held sales and marketing positions in AT&T's Business Multimedia Systems organization.

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Mo Garad

Garad is chief financial officer at performance diagnostics software maker DynaTrace Software. DynaTrace is a true software startup in the mode of so many other successful ones. The company literally started with a few guys working in a garage three years ago. Now they are working to produce more than $25 million in revenue this year. They have experienced 100 percent year-on-year growth since inception, assisted by Garad's financial wizardry. Prior to joining DynaTrace management, Garad was at Bain Capital Ventures focused on early stage software investments. Before Bain, he was responsible for strategic planning for the Americas sales organization at Veritas Software, with $1 billion in annual revenue. Prior to Veritas, he served as VP Strategic Planning/M&A and VP Finance for Precise Software Solutions, a pioneer in the APM space. Prior to Precise, Garad was an investment officer at...

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Dexter Henderson

Dexter Henderson is vice president and business line executive at IBM's Systems Software division within the company's Systems and Technology Group (STG). IBM is surely no startup, but Henderson's new unit is only 5 months old. The Systems Software business unit focuses on integrating and differentiating IBM systems by leveraging software product offerings, and driving for consistent naming, packaging and licensing. The team works across IBM to use systems software to accelerate client value for IBMs systems as a critical part of infrastructure deployments. Prior to this stint, Henderson was with IBM's Tivoli software unit, where he held a variety of positions, including software developer and architect, among others.

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Clarence Wooton Jr.

Clarence Wooton is the founder and CEO of Groupsite.com, a maker of social collaboration software focused on empowering groups of all types and sizes to communicate, share and network. Coined a "serial entrepreneur" by Entrepreneur Magazine in February 2000, Clarence has launched and operated numerous technology-based companies since founding his first, Envision Designs, while an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University. In 1993, Clarence co-founded Metamorphosis Studios, an interactive multimedia development firm, where he served as CEO and creative director until early 1998 when the company was acquired by MediSolv. Immediately following the acquisition, at the height of the dot-com boom, Clarence co-founded and served as CEO of ImageCafe.com. Touted as the Internet's first online superstore of customizable Websites-to-go, ImageCafe was acquired for $23 million by Network Solutions/Verisign...

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Michael Seibel

Michael Seibel is co-founder and CEO of Justin.tv. His responsibilities include overseeing all operations for the company as well as investor relations, business development and monetization strategy. During Michaels tenure as CEO, Justin.tv has grown to be the largest live video site on the Web, and now boasts more than 30 million unique visitors each month. Before joining Justin.tv, Michael was the finance director for Kweisi Mfumes U.S. Senate campaign. Justin.tv broadcasts live streaming videos from individuals and corporate events. Individual broadcasters stream their lives online through stationary and mobile audio and video recorders while fans comment and interact in chat rooms. All video is archived for on-demand playback.

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Black Digerati

Black Digerati is a technology and digital media startup with a focus on fostering the development, visibility and inclusion of African American digital natives in technology, game development and interactive media. Black Digerati's mission is to encourage and provide avenues for African American digital natives to become designers and developers of technology and not just consumers; implement innovative solutions that assist in bridging the different digital inequalities that hinder African American digital natives from entering the technology and digital media industries; work with industry and community partners to leverage resources and expand opportunities in the digital space for African American digital natives; and spark the interest of more African American digital natives in computing fields whether in education, the corporate world and or as tech entrepreneurs.

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