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AfroTech World Goes Virtual

UCLA Anderson MBA students at the world’s largest multicultural tech conference

Alem Bulcha (’21) (left) and Oke Bamgbose (’22) were among the 20 MBA students UCLA Anderson sponsored to attend AfroTech World

AfroTech World is one of the world’s largest multicultural technology conferences. UCLA Anderson’s Easton Technology Management Center and Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion sponsored participation of 20 UCLA Anderson students in 2020, when AfroTech went virtual.

Participants were immersed in an online world of opportunities to engage in programming at the intersection of tech and culture. Speakers included Dantley Davis, chief design officer at Twitter, and Michael Siebel, CEO of Y Combinator. Attendees also had the chance to network with thousands of other professionals from both startups and large organizations, like Asana, Google and Twitch.

Bamgbose and the other Anderson students created avatars to navigate the virtual conference

AfroTech World was a memorable experience of the Black and multicultural tech network. Throughout the conference, we were able to build and strengthen our professional network by meeting diverse individuals across the tech world. As MBA candidates preparing to become leaders in the technology industry, we also learned many valuable lessons that we will carry forward throughout our careers, including:

  • While Imposter Syndrome can be particularly acute for Black workers in tech, it can also be harnessed to give you the power to present your authentic self and opinions.
  • There are complex questions around fairness and bias within technologies like A.I. and the intentional leadership needed, on an individual and organizational level, to address them.
  • 2020 trends like disrupted incumbents and the rise of remote work can create opportunities for Black and underrepresented founders. It’s important for stakeholders within the venture capital industry to push for more recognition of these talented founders and invest in their success.
  • There is a strong community of diverse tech talent, with a wide range of experiences and expertise. In contrast to the supposed “pipeline problem,” more than 10,000 individuals attended the virtual conference, showcasing the reach and breadth of the Black tech population.

As we logged off AfroTech World, we felt encouraged that in true 2020 fashion, AfroTech had created a powerful virtual experience that rewarded attendees with meaningful connections. As technology continues to play an ever-increasing role in our lives, the importance of events like AfroTech becomes more pronounced. We hope to bring the spirit of AfroTech to Anderson as we seek to create spaces for diverse and talented individuals to speak their truth.

We extend special thanks to the staff of UCLA Anderson’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Easton Technology Management Center for your support! We hope that AfroTech can return to the in-person world next year and that Anderson continues to sponsor students to attend the conference.

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