Where did you grow up and what were you like as a child? What did your parents do for work?
I grew up in rural South Carolina, cotton and corn fields are common and a beautiful sight to see as you travel through the country! Even in the most challenging situations, I always tried to find the good. I was very quiet, reserved, and introverted. I was very inquisitive and constantly questioning the world around me. My curiosity kept my parents alert!
My hardworking parents have settled into a well-earned retirement. My dad was a mechanic and a solopreneur with his own trucking business. My mom worked as a supervisor for the disabilities and special needs board, where she trained consumers to work in local businesses.
Where did you go to college? What did you study and what did you do after graduating?
I majored in mathematics at Tuskegee University, ‘The Pride of the Swift Growing South’! After graduation, I worked as a junior business analyst at an insurtech company in product development.
Several years later, I completed my MBA from the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina with concentrations in International Business, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation and a Certificate in Business Analytics.
What inspired you to get into the tech industry?
Well, tech, specifically insurtech happened to me. After graduating undergrad without a job, I searched for months until I saw a small job ad in the local newspaper where the only requirement was a college degree. Finally, a perfect fit for me!
Filled with hope, I went to an open house for this insurtech and applied for a junior business analyst role. The interviewer was impressed by me and assured me that he would recommend me for the role. Two days later, I received an offer without knowing what the company did or the responsibilities of a business analyst!
What has your career path looked like in tech and the various positions you’ve held before joining Duck Creek?
My career began as a junior business analyst, and I climbed the ranks to become a lead business analyst. In this role, I was responsible for requirements gathering, overseeing and conducting testing, and educating/training customers on product features and functions.
As my expertise grew, I became a subject matter expert and reviewed system changes from a business and workflow perspective with a focus on the user experience. I took charge of responding to RFPs and conducting analyst demonstrations. I also spearheaded a user group for more than seven years, where I facilitated all meetings, educational requests, demonstrations, and other responsibilities.
I also contributed to successful implementations across all tiers and was an account manager on the product customer support team. My journey has allowed me to participate in the success of many insurers in the industry while supporting the objectives of my employer and achieving my personal goals.
Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as Product Marketing Manager at Duck Creek?
My role as a senior product marketing manager is quite diverse. My responsibilities include market research, product messaging and positioning, content creation, product launches, and sales enablement. I love the variety of tasks from one day to another. There is never a boring day as a product marketing manager!
What has attributed to your success thus far and what types of obstacles have you had to overcome along the way as a Black professional?
I’m resilient, and I don’t give up easily. I have had numerous challenges throughout my journey, which have included adapting to change swiftly and persevering despite limitations imposed on me by management. Despite attempts to confine me to their defined box, I remain determined to forge my own path.
I’ve encountered situations where I was passed over for roles and had internal transfers blocked while being told I add great value to the company. Despite these setbacks, I refuse to let anyone dictate what I can achieve. There are many challenges faced by black women working in insurtech, but I’m determined not to stay frustrated. I continue to seek other opportunities to expand my knowledge, skills, and network. My drive and tenacity propel me forward as I actively create my goals and execute my plan to achieve them.
What types of programs and initiatives does Duck Creek have that support diversity, equity, and inclusion?
Duck Creek has an amazing culture that embraces diversity and fosters a sense of belonging. Our ERGs and Diversity Council have created safe places for each Duck to share their truth in a supportive space where people feel safe as we tackle difficult topics such as race and equity. We are also able to engage in enlightening discussions and cultural exchanges.
I am fortunate to work with good people who are open to learning and respectful of other viewpoints. The openness and understanding I’ve seen demonstrated have been invaluable to my personal growth.
What advice would you give to other Black professionals who are interested in joining the tech industry?
Pursue it only if you are passionate. Passion is a powerful force that will motivate and help you remain focused on your goal.
Network and connect with people who have similar interests. This can help lead you to new opportunities and can lead to meeting potential mentors and sponsors that can help propel your career forward. Become a lifelong learner. Technology is a field that changes rapidly. Remaining open to learning will help to maintain your skills and adapt to changes.
While general awareness of the problem of diversity in the tech industry is a step forward, to make a lasting change, real actions need to be taken. Do you have any ideas or suggestions on what companies or employees can do to step up and make a difference?
If everyone looks like you, thinks like you, and can do what you can do, your world is too small. When people come together with diverse viewpoints, they bring unique insights and perspectives. As we embrace diversity, we gain empathy and respect for cultures, which helps us to collaborate and communicate effectively.
No matter your position in an organization, your lived experience is valid. I encourage everyone to embrace who they are and be open to learning from others. It’s amazing the comradery and community that is created when we embrace diversity.