The Meet the Tech Leader series spotlights amazing women of color tech leaders who are making the tech industry better, and are trailblazing the path for more WoC to enter the field.
In this post, we shine the spotlight on the incredibly smart, talented and poised Victoria Scott. Victoria works as a Cloud Technical Specialist for IBM and is featured in the book Women of Color in Tech.
On a personal note, I consider Victoria a dear friend and personal role model. To me, she embodies all of the traits and virtues of a tech leader, and I’m thankful that our paths crossed.
Victoria discusses what she loves about her career, the person who had the biggest influence in pursuing a career in tech, and how she copes with being “the only one in the room”.
What do your day to day duties like?
Most of my work involves reaching out to customers and clients to promote the benefits of the IBM Public Cloud. It’s important to have an understanding of not only the business benefits but also in-depth technological expertise.
In my current role, I hold workshops and code-jams with my team and give technological demonstrations that show our clients what our technology can do for them, and how we can help them.
What do you love about your job?
I love that I can connect and network with industry professionals just by going to the office. I love that my company emphasizes and encourages its employees to learn and hone their skills through workshops, conferences, and an online learning platform where all employees can take courses and track their internal learning. It’s an exciting time to be in technology, especially with the rise of artificial intelligence, blockchain, and cloud computing, and I’m glad to be part of a company that is actively researching opportunities and making its mark during this digital transformation.
What motivated you to pursue a career in tech?
My father works in technology, and that left a big impression on me when I was younger. He took part in the rise of the Internet and the widespread usage of mobile devices. As a result of growing up in a very tech-friendly environment, I was always fascinated by technology. In high school, I took my first coding class, and I thought it was the coolest thing that I could do so much with just a few lines of code. I was attracted to the fact that I could use my computer science and coding skills in topics that I found interesting – fashion, entrepreneurship and other sciences.
What classes or professional opportunities prepared you for your current career?
I think all of the computer science classes I took in high school and college prepared me for my current career. Even though I am not coding as much as I did in college, I learned important critical thinking, leadership, and quantitative skills through these classes. I learned how to code in Java, Python, C, and Assembly, and knowing how to code helps me connect with and understand developers at companies I interact with.
I also had the opportunity to intern at various tech startups (in fashion and cybersecurity) and I co-founded a company in college. These different entrepreneurial experiences helped me learn more about how businesses are run at a granular level which is quite useful when you work at a large company and can be somewhat removed from business decisions on a day to day basis.
What challenges did you face in your journey into tech, and how did you cope with them?
Most of the time I am the only woman and the only black person in the room, so it can sometimes be difficult to relate on a more personal level to my peers and to the more senior-level people in the room. It’s important to build rapport with the people you do business with, and sometimes being the “only one” in the room can be an unspoken barrier. Being the only one in the room is a topic I have talked about with my mentors, who often find themselves in a similar position – whether they are the only woman or the only black woman in the room. Their guidance helped me navigate these potentially awkward situations.
What role does/did mentorship have in your career growth?
I like to take every opportunity I can to connect with and talk to experienced women in technology. Mentorship has helped me to see all of the career possibilities I have before me. My mentors give me great advice on where I can take my career and what other opportunities are available. By listening to the background, and the challenges my mentors have overcome, I can apply what they have learned to my career and personal life.
What efforts are you undertaking to bring more women of color in the tech industry? Why is this important to you?
I recently became a member of [New York University} Stern’s full-time MBA (Class of 2022) Consortium cohort. The Consortium’s mission is to increase the number of minorities enrolled in MBA programs and increase the number of minorities in leadership positions in the workplace. I want to take this one step further by encouraging with women of color (who are not at the MBA level) to pursue careers in technology.
What advice would you give to other women of color looking to come into tech?
- Understand your strengths and weaknesses, and skill up on your weaknesses by taking online classes.
- Talk to other women of color who are in the same job/career path as you (software developer, product management, technical sales, designer, etc) and learn about their backgrounds and how they got to their roles.
- Find mentors in the role that you want to have.