Tech Spotlight: Nkem Nwankwo

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 a Product Manager at Microsystems, a leading provider of document production solutions.

How did you get into tech?
I’ve been interested in tech for as long as I can remember. When I was little I used to go to my dad’s office every now and then and play snake on his computer. I always wondered how a circuit could produce what I was seeing on the computer screen.

When I was in 8th grade, I learned that there was an occupation called “computer engineering”. At the time I had no idea what a computer engineer actually did, but I know I wanted to be one. That’s how I ended up picking my major at Georgia Tech.

What’s your favorite technology to work with and why?
As cliche as it is right now, I really have fun writing code that can pull insights from large amounts of data. Python works fairly well for this. I enjoy it because data can help you tell a story that you would otherwise be taking guesses at.

What project are you most proud to have worked on and why?
It’s not exactly technically oriented, but I guess the most recent thing would be the book that I just self published. It’s called After School: Is Getting an MBA Really Worth It? and it consists of a collection of stories and advice for those considering and just our of business school.

I’m proud of it for two reasons. First, I said I was going to do something and I followed all the way through on it. I’m always doing something outside of my 9 to 5, and this was a good way to get a quick win. Second, people actually read it and got something from it! I’ve had quite a few people, even those not interested in an MBA, message me saying that it helped them get some direction.

What do you see as the most interesting technology on the horizon?
Automated vehicles are super interesting to me. There’s so many considerations to keep in mind in the coming years. This technology will absolutely change society as we know it. Some things to think about: Where do taxi and rideshare drivers work when cars are fully automated? Where do truck drivers work? Why do we pay so much for a car when it sits in a garage for 80% of its lifetime? What does this mean for insurance companies?

If you weren’t working in tech, what would you be doing?
I’d probably be a mechanic. Does that count as tech?

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your tech career?
Diversity is so important. When you have a team of people that all think the same, you’re opening yourself up for a serious blind spot. When you have an array of people with different backgrounds, your ideas’ potentials improve exponentially.

What can companies do to create more inclusive environments?
To be honest, it’s not up to the companies anymore. We’ve been talking about this for what, more than 10 years now? They’re not going to foster an inclusive environment. If people who have traditionally been shut out of the tech game want a seat at the table, they have to make their own companies. Simple as that. People hire people who are like them. That’s just the way humanity works.

What keeps you busy when you’re not being a technologist?
Blogging and getting ready for a relaunch of my book. There’s a good bit of work I need to put in the in next few month to make sure it goes successfully. I’m also a board member of the non profit cultural organization Umu Igbo Unite. I maintain the website and perform graphic design tasks for the org. Other than these, I’m a cofounder of an event management group called Golden Ticket Promotions as well as an ACT tutor.

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.