Tech Spotlight: Christopher Coles

The Abernathy Tech Spotlight series highlights black professionals working in tech, from freelance developers to non-technical founders. Complete this form to submit your profile.

What is your current role and where do you work?
I am a Senior Engineering Consultant at Hackerati. Hackerati is a strategic software consulting firm that focuses on Lean Product, Agile Methodologies, Leadership and Transformation, and Experience Design. We create and shape advanced technologies, from Web, Mobile and Data, to AI, VR, and wearables. We use our expertise to guide partners from initial sketch through finished product, rapidly prototyping, and working with them to realize their vision.

What’s your favorite technology to use?
I remember the first time I used Javascript—I had just begun learning to program and was building a static webpage, with only HTML, CSS, and Javascript. I wanted to add an animation for the words on the page. I will never forget the elation I felt as I saw my words transition across the screen. “Wow, that’s pretty cool”, I thought. It was a bit later that I discovered Node.js — “backend” Javascript, as it is often times affectionately described. Node.js was my first love of programming languages. The ease, flexibility, speed, and beauty that I saw in Node.js truly is what made me fall in love with programming. Many years and programming languages later, I still remember those feelings and have a fondness for Javascript that is unparalleled.

How did you get into tech?
Whether it has been selling CDs to my high school buddies or selling items on eBay, I have always been someone who has been very entrepreneurial. I began bartending and waiting tables after leaving school because of financial troubles. It was through this experience of working in the service industry that I realized many pain points, and had an app idea around disrupting the tipping industry. This idea led me to discover programming, and a love for crafting code and building products.

What’s a project you’re most proud of?
I am currently working on a project that connects conscious consumers to buy products made by and for people of color. People of color have huge amounts of spending power and are super consumers in many different consumer spending categories. We are ever more mindful of where we spend our money and are increasingly concerned with what business our dollars go to support. As a black man, this project is especially close to my heart as this affects my community. Helping our communities through economic empowerment will affect change on a macro-level, generating more growth and success for our communities.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your tech career?
Fake it until you make it!

What do you see as the most interesting technology on the horizon?
I am particularly hopeful, concerned, and excited about the effect that machine learning will have on our world. Whether it be powering self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, helping to find cures for diseases, or even simply recommending what to watch next on Netflix, the applications and the opportunity for machine learning are awe-inspiring.

However, as excited as I am about all of the potential successes, I too am concerned. In machine learning, everything is based on the model, or system that makes the predictions or identifications, and the data that helps the model make predictions and learn. It is important, now more than ever, that the people that train these models and pick the data for machine learning to be of diverse experience and background. Imagine the possible harmful effects of a machine learning system that has inherent bias, based on the engineer that helped to create it. In a world where machine learning is poised to disrupt everything that we do and virtually every industry, along with creating new ones, working to address the diversity issue in tech, and especially Silicon Valley, is absolutely necessary

If you weren’t working in tech, what would you be doing?
VC or Real Estate

The Abernathy Tech Spotlight series highlights black professionals working in tech, from freelance developers to non-technical founders. Complete this form to submit your profile.