Black Ambition CEO Felecia Hatcher Encourages Black Techies To 'Still Stay The Course' In The Midst Of Tech Layoffs
Photo Credit: Leigh Vogel

Black Ambition CEO Felecia Hatcher Encourages Black Techies To 'Still Stay The Course' In The Midst Of Tech Layoffs

Throughout 2022, news of tech layoffs hit the nation, especially over the past few weeks. In CNBC’s rundown of the announcements that have piled in, Meta had the most cuts of about 11,000 jobs — its biggest round of layoffs ever.

As previously reported by AfroTech, Elon Musk also cut 3,700 employees after his Twitter takeover. 

The list of companies goes on and is continuing in real-time. A main point of concern is the tech layoffs’ impact on Black workers who are already underrepresented.

 

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Many tech employees are questioning whether their career is in jeopardy. And, for those who are aspiring, the buzz phrase “break into tech” isn’t sounding as promising.

At a crucial time of Black techies both securing and losing jobs, Black Ambition’s Felecia Hatcher sat down with AfroTech during AfroTech Conference 2022 to speak on the matter at hand.

Known for her exceptional mentorship and motivational content, the CEO shared her take.

“I’m terrified about what’s happening right now,” Hatcher admitted to AfroTech. “Mostly because prior to Black Ambition, that was literally the work that my husband [Derick Pearson] and I were doing, building pathways to tech opportunities.”

Words Of Advice And Encouragement

“Still stay the course. The recession of 2008 did not happen to everyone. It did not happen to every company. A friend of mine talks about [whether] you can elect to be in the recession or not, it’s a mindset thing. Definitely continue to get the skills, but relationships rule everything.”

“While there may be a slowness in hiring, it’s not a slowness everywhere,” she added. “You may have to kind of broaden your net of looking for opportunities internationally.”

The Foreseeable Future

“You may have to look for opportunities at companies that are not tech companies, but that have tech roles within them,” Hatcher noted. “Because some of these industries are going to weather the storm and be perfectly fine. Then, can you just be a little bit flexible in what you’re doing or what your value is? Getting very clear on your value is the advice that I would give to someone in this moment. Block out what you’re seeing on the news. These big tech companies are going to constantly get the headlines. They hire thousands of people, but there are other companies that are doing just fine and they are hiring in droves right now. My focus would be on those companies and opportunities.”

Black Ambition Taking Action

While the state of tech jobs is in critical condition, Black Ambition is serving as a safe haven for Black and brown entrepreneurs. Per Crunchbase, funding to Black founders and startups plummeted by 73 percent from Q1 to Q2. Hatcher and Pharrell’s efforts are working toward combatting such numbers.

Recently, the organization held its second Demo Day, where it invested $2.5 million in 31 entrepreneurs.

 

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According to Hatcher, what makes Black Ambition’s mentorship next level is being adamant about steering away from surface-level mentors. Additionally, the mentors and mentees are not only building connections but also leveraging relationships.

“I think a lot of people at this point, especially in the tech space, have separated a mentor from a champion and you need to find people that do both,” Hatcher affirmed. “Some people will have very linear exclusive relationships, one to the other, but we’ve been able to attract people that do both.”

She continued: “And that’s really important because, for so many Black entrepreneurs, so much of their time is wasted either with very bad advice or people who are just like, ‘Go find someone at this major corporation that does that,’ but they have the contact and they have the relationship. They just refuse to make it for you because they don’t want to leverage their relationships in order to do so. And that’s not right.”

What To Look Out For

During Art Basel, between Dec. 1 to Dec. 3, Black Ambition will have a pitch competition. What’s more, the nonprofit will host its So Ambitious dinner and podcast.

Black and brown entrepreneurs can anticipate for the application to reopen for the 2023 Black Ambition Prize. In addition, Hatcher shared that they will be adding new prize verticals in 2023.

Her word of advice for prospective applicants?

  • Be engaged in programming
  • Build relationships with the team, mentors, and board members
  • Show up to stand out