Tech Spotlight: Mahogany Beckford

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’m the founder of SparkPlug, a consultancy that helps entrepreneurs and startup teams grow their business using data-based strategies.

How did you get into tech?
Through a mix of luck and setting really. Having learned to code in high school, I definitely knew early on that I wanted to do something technical when I grew up. I started college as an engineering major and was studying in Singapore at the time. It’s a tiny place, so it was easy for geeks to find one another. Due to the luck of timing, I was around during the early days of the startup scene that was starting there and had friends who were growing the ecosystem and building cool things. I made a point of finding ways to contribute to all of that outside of school.

What’s your favorite technology to work with and why?
These days, I’m a big fan of collaboration tools (like Asana, Slack, Trello…). I love the added efficiency that using them can bring to projects. Trello is my favorite right now (I use it even as a personal organizer).

What project are you most proud to have worked on and why?
My book, which is titled “The Little Book on Big Data: Understand Retail Analytics Through Use Cases and Optimize Your Business”. It began as a passion project—me challenging myself to become an author—but also to share what I know with my peers in the two industries that I know and love (technology and retail).

I’m really proud of the end result and writing it was a journey that taught me a lot. Also, when readers reach out, it affirms that the challenge was worth it because I have been able to see its positive impacts.

An unexpected thing to come from the book is that now, I am helping one of my clients share amazing things that he is doing in his field (education). His book will play a big role in his disruptive edu-tech startup, and it feels great to help someone else share with the world what they have learned.

More of us have books in us, I’m certain of that. The advice I’d give someone who may be unsure of how to begin with one is to, as a starting point, look up a practice called “Morning Pages”. It’s a simple exercise to help with building the habit of actually writing, little by little, day by day.

What do you see as the most interesting technology on the horizon?
Artificial Intelligence (AI). I’m really curious to see how folks will apply it to different industries.

If you weren’t working in tech, what would you be doing?
I love aviation. I’d probably be working in the field of aviation if I weren’t working in tech.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your tech career?
Take nothing for granted and never get complacent, because you risk being left behind. Talent or big wins from the past can only get you so far. There will always be a new approach to things, a new language, a new system… There’s value in staying up-to-date and also being in the habit of constantly learning.

What keeps you busy when you’re not being a technologist?
Passion projects, like helping a friend map out a pilot for her youth non-profit aimed at using the arts to create positive avenues of expression and build leadership skills for minority teens.

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.

By Mahogany Beckford

I'm a lean startup enthusiast who works at the intersection of analytics/data technology and creative marketing. Single-handedly placing an app into the iTunes App Store less than a year after the app marketplace was first introduced, I have an eye for spotting technology trends that are likely to endure. Bringing a global perspective to my work, I have been quoted in international publications such as the Financial Times, BBC, and CIO Magazine.