Brianna Rhodes


Brianna Rhodes

AfroTech blogger

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A Legacy of Learning and Innovation: Dr. Colin Parris, GE Digital’s Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Shares Insights on the Tech Industry and His Career Approach

“Digital transformation” and “evolution” are words that best describe Dr. Colin Parris ’ impact on the tech industry. The GE Digital Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer helps industrial companies make strides in utilities, power generation, oil & gas, manufacturing, and aviation by working with world-class teams to develop new technologies and transformative products and services to enhance the customer experience. Parris has an extensive background working in the digital industrial space at powerhouse companies such as AT&T Bell Laboratories and IBM, where he worked on forward-thinking  digital technologies in the communications, retail, and banking industries. Now, at GE Digital, he’s championing solutions that accelerate business impact and scale digital transformation with breakthrough technologies and solutions, such as Digital Twin . Parris spoke with AfroTech to share his accomplished career journey and provide valuable advice for Black techies hoping to excel...

Feb 1, 2021

AfroTech Crowns Melanoid Exchange the Winner of the 2020 AfroTech Cup Pitch Competition Presented By SVB

Startup company Melanoid Exchange will be leveling up after winning The AfroTech Cup presented by Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) at the 2020 AfroTech World conference held from November 9-14. The hybrid eLearning platform received a $10,000 grand prize, along with an exclusive meet and greet with the SVB team and introductions to top angel investors and VCs, after successfully pitching their business in front of thousands of attendees and their fellow competitors, Words Live and Hire Henry. Melanoid Exchange is an affordable eCommerce platform for early-stage online businesses founded by a couple, Jovante and Darsha Ham. With the motto “No business is left behind,” the founders launched the company to offer eCommerce businesses a step-by-step, collaborative virtual experience to help them launch and gain traction for their new businesses. DeMarcus Williams, managing director of Startup Banking at SVB, kicked off the competition emphasizing his team’s dedication to global innovation....

Jan 21, 2021

How Blue Prism Is Advocating for More Black Representation in Intelligent Automation

The traditional workforce as we knew it changed drastically in 2020. Within a matter of weeks, the workplace environment across many industries transitioned from in-person interaction to digital correspondence. With the way the world is currently handling the coronavirus pandemic, this will probably be the norm for the foreseeable future. New adaptations call for new routines, and various industries are tapping into new technology protocols, such as intelligent automation, to keep their businesses afloat. UK-based software development company, Blue Prism, defines intelligent automation as a “ business-developed, no-code automation that pushes the boundaries of robotic process automation (RPA) to deliver value across any business process in a connected enterprise.” This mode of technology is becoming rapidly popular, and many industries see it as the future of work. Industries are compelled to evolve based on the high demands to deliver services digitally compared to the traditional...

Jan 5, 2021

How Fiserv and Clover Are on a Mission to Give Back to Small Businesses

The holidays are the perfect time to spread cheer, love and support. Every year, people and businesses come together to give money, goods and resources to those in need. This year, the season of giving is more important than ever. Millions have endured hardships while navigating the coronavirus pandemic, and Black and minority-owned small businesses have felt the brunt of it. Numerous small business owners have had to put their businesses on hold to care for their loved ones. But despite their own fight to survive, many small businesses are still finding ways to support their local communities. In today’s interconnected economic environment, it takes everyone, big and small, to come together and uplift local communities, which collectively buoy the national economy. It’s companies like Fiserv, a global leader in payments and financial technologies, and Clover, its point-of-sale platform, that can leverage their combined market power to support smaller businesses and help them...

Dec 22, 2020

Breaking Down the Career Journey to Global Blockchain at Accenture with Britney Crooks

G lobal professional services company Accenture is exploring and applying blockchain technology to help its clients build more trusted ecosystems and enable new business models. Thanks to tech leaders within the company, like Britney Crooks, Accenture’s Blockchain and Multiparty Systems practice is reimagining the future of money, redesigning more resilient supply chains and enabling digital identities. Britney started at Accenture three years ago as a Segment Consultant in the company’s Open Innovation group within Accenture Ventures . She progressed rapidly and is now the Global Blockchain and Multiparty Systems Alliance Lead. In her role, she is responsible for their portfolio of blockchain technology partnerships. In an interview with AfroTech, she spoke about her career journey, her ability to help Accenture’s clients and partners, and her efforts to get more underrepresented groups exposed to emerging technologies. As someone who has been fortunate enough to explore different...

Dec 14, 2020

How Accenture Ventures’ Black Founders Development Program Levels the Playing Field for Black Entrepreneurs

What’s the one obstacle that Black entrepreneurs deal with time and time again when putting ideas out into the world? While there are many, funding is perhaps the greatest barrier to entry for startups. When it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship, Black people have especially faced hardships to get the support they deserve when building their businesses. Thankfully, Accenture Ventures is here to change that with its Black Founders Development Program . The goal of the program is to level the playing field and help Black startup founders and entrepreneurs through investment, mentorship, community and more. The Black Founders Development Program is a new initiative that aims to give Black entrepreneurs a seat at the table to garner wealth and set the foundation for future generations. The goal is to advance their businesses and provide access to venture capital along with valuable connections through Accenture. In an interview, Accenture Ventures’ Global Open Innovation Lead and...

Dec 9, 2020

Career Spotlight: Clover Product Lead Bodunrin Jawando Gets Candid about His Career Journey in FinTech

The way we do business is changing, which means the way customers buy products is evolving, too. For small and medium-sized businesses especially, merchant services are essential to keep their operations running, their people safe and cash flow stable. Bodunrin Jawando, a product lead at Clover , has become an expert in the field based on his extensive experience working in financial technology for almost a decade. He is implementing new tech strategies for the point of sale platform to meet companies’ and customers’ needs. The road to success in his role wasn’t easy, but his professional journey has made it possible for him to quickly adapt to the drastic changes caused by COVID-19. Now he’s dropping gems on how aspiring FinTechies can thrive. Jawando spoke with AfroTech to share his insights and thoughts on how being an immigrant, an HBCU alumnus and an intern shaped his professional career. The Journey: From the Beginning to Now Nigerian immigrant Jawando studied electrical...

Dec 3, 2020

Top 10 Things Your Small Business Should Do To Thrive This Holiday Season

The holiday season is here, and now is the time when people are looking to find the perfect gifts for their friends and families. Although this year is different from what we’re used to, one shining spot is the renewed support for local and small businesses. Clover is helping these businesses thrive this season as owners and customers adjust to the new norm. COVID-19 is responsible for changing our holiday plans, but these tips from Clover will help ensure that your customers’ shopping experience is as jolly and safe as possible. Check out the different ways your small businesses can prep for the holidays, 2020 style, below:   1. Be sure your website is mobile-friendly and can accept online orders. via GIPHY Since customers will be visiting stores less often than last year, we’ll see an increase in online shopping. Make sure that your online store is up to date and dressed up with your best visuals. And don’t forget to add special holiday packages and products. We all love a...

Nov 30, 2020

Employee Spotlight: MongoDB Product Manager Talks About His Role And The Company’s Push For Inclusivity

Having a game plan for your career can help you reach monumental milestones and attain goals that not only benefit yourself, but the greater good of the company that you work for. Just ask product manager (PM) at MongoDB, Garaudy Etienne, who has succeeded at the company by using his expertise of processing data to help fuel product growth. Thanks to his engineering and business background, Etienne helps elevate MongoDB products to a higher level of success in the industry’s competitive landscape. The product manager knows the in-and-outs of tech and advocates for inclusivity in the workplace too. Etienne spoke with AfroTech to share an inside look into his unique experience working at MongoDB as a product manager and how he’s using his impact to dismantle offensive database terminology through the master/slave removal project. AfroTech: Tell us about your background and your role as a PM with MongoDB? Etienne: I’ve been a product manager for three years and was previously an...

Nov 17, 2020

From Executive Assistant To Cybersecurity Specialist, MongoDB Employee Shares Her Career Growth Story And Guide To Online Personal Safety

It’s never too late to reinvent your career or make a pivot into the technology field. Just ask Dawn Charles, Business Support Specialist at MongoDB. Charles worked as a personal trainer for 12 years before she took an executive assistant position that eventually led to a career in cybersecurity. MongoDB is a database platform that provides the back-end infrastructure used by many popular apps, including the online game Fortnite . It’s an attractive option for tech professionals all over the world, including Black tech professionals who are looking to elevate their career. Charles spoke with AfroTech to share her experience working for MongoDB as a Black tech professional, gave advice on individuals looking to make a career switch and provided tips on how to keep your personal cybersecurity measures up-to-date. How Dawn Charles Made a Career Pivot Charles started working for MongoDB five years ago and has been a crucial part of the success of many departments at the company. When...

Nov 4, 2020

Careers In Tech: Get To Know VMware Regional Sales Director Shannon Douglas

A career in tech offers multiple opportunities outside of engineering and coding. VMware employee Shannon Douglas has made a successful career in sales through his passion for leadership, coaching, and positively impacting people’s lives. The regional sales director spoke to AfroTech about the diverse opportunities in tech and his role in helping the business thrive. “I think sales is a great place for people that are interested in a career in tech,” Douglas said. “[If] you’re more of a people person, more oriented towards conversation, sales is a great place to go. I think there’s a lot of business acumen that you can develop here.  There’s a lot of relationship building and sales is a people business. So, it’s understanding how technology solves problems, which is super important.” Douglas also spoke on the universal skill sets that are needed for sales and how to properly apply for roles such as his. “Continual advice in interviewing and in … your career, [and] something that’s...

Oct 29, 2020

ServiceNow VP Of Operations For Digital Innovation And Transformation Gets Candid About Her Life In The Corporate World As A Black And Asian Woman

As a Black and Japanese woman, ServiceNow VP of Operations for Digital Innovation and Transformation Mica Mayo navigates the intersectionality of being a Black woman in leadership daily. Along the way, Mica has acquired skills that have led her to become a natural problem solver in her roles over the years. At ServiceNow, she is in charge of digitizing, automating, and executing internal processes that make the lives of employees easier. The state of the nation is causing employees to navigate society in unique ways while handling two pandemics — COVID-19 and systemic racism. There is no doubt that this will bleed into the work culture. That hasn’t stopped ServiceNow from offering a supportive environment for its employees, with Mica having first hand experience. She sat down and spoke with AfroTech about working at ServiceNow in a time such as this and her experience being a Black and Asian woman and how that hasn’t held her back at all with excelling in her career. Can you tell us...

Oct 28, 2020

Tap In and Get To Know the Afrofantasy World of Twin Drums’ Upcoming Game 'The Wagadu Chronicles'

Imagine a world where you can experience the existence of Afrofantasy beings and vivid Diaspora elements. A place so strange and wild where powerful spirits, fickle ancestors, and angry beasts co-exist with fertile soils, powerful magic, and traditions that celebrate the African Diaspora far and wide. Welcome to the land of “Wagadu”, a world created by the game development company Twin Drums . Founded by Allan Cudicio, the company was “born out of the desire to place diversity, and especially blackness and queerness, at the center.” Through the “ Wagadu Chronicles ”, the company aims to tell the story of the land as a way to “change the perception of fantasy and roleplaying by giving visibility to black aesthetics and African ancient mythology as it has never been done before within our collective imagination.” Gamers will get the chance to interact and serve in different landscapes such as savannas, deserts, swamps, mountains, and rainforests. You will soon get to enter the world...

Oct 27, 2020

Careers in Tech: VMware Employee, Rachel Leekin, Shares Her Background as a Kubernetes Field Manager

VMware takes pride in its employees’ diverse talents and experiences in the tech space. Employees like Kubernetes Field Engineer Rachel Leekin have expertise in various areas that contribute directly to the top-level services that the company provides for its customers. In her role, Leekin helps customers get on the Kubernetes platform using VMware products. She also creates content for the company’s KubeAcademy and speaks at conferences. Leekin spoke with AfroTech about how her business and computer science background led to her career in engineering and how solving problems is the “most fun part of the job.” “You always have a new problem,” Leekin said. “So every year there’s a new technology, new problem to solve, a new customer in a new sector — new space, whatever business. There’s always something new. I’m always trying to solve a new problem. It’s like never ending puzzles that you can get access to. It’s never the same.” As a woman who has several patents and is also...

Oct 26, 2020

An Inside Look: See How The Culture of Memphis Reigns Supreme For These Black Entrepreneurs

Hip hop, social justice, soul music, soul food – the city of Memphis is a cultural mecca of the South with good reason. But, it wouldn’t be known for what it is today without the people who reside there. We want to make it known that the entrepreneur ecosystem is prospering and entrepreneurs like Princeton James and Cynthia Daniels are two prime examples of why its influence reigns supreme. From having a bustling technology scene, to a market for artists and craftsmen, the city is a Black mecca for up-and-coming or established doers, makers and dreamers. James is the founder of a production company, Princeton James Productions and Daniels is the founder of a full-service event planning company, Cynthia Daniels & Co. Both entrepreneurs spoke with AfroTech to provide an inside look on how Memphis’ unique soul, culture and influence has boosted the credibility of their business and assisted their entrepreneurial journey. AfroTech: Tell me about your entrepreneurial experience. James:...

Oct 26, 2020