Tech Spotlight: Sherrell Dorsey

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.

How did you get into tech?
Technology has always been a passion of mine. My family was always big on access to computers and we were one of the first in our community to have AOL at home.

I learned how to code when I was 14. When I entered high school, I enrolled in the Technology Access Foundation’s technical teens internship program in Seattle, designed for students of color by retired Microsoft software engineer Trish Millines Dziko.

Throughout high school I spent my afternoons learning HTML, C#, Javascript, and a host of other programming languages in addition to network administration. Every summer, I worked as an intern at Microsoft across several different departments.

After college, I worked at startup companies, eventually landing a marketing manager role at Uber and a contract sales position at Google Fiber.

What’s your favorite technology to work with and why?
As a content creator and writer, I’m a huge fan of publishing platforms and social media analytics products. Tools like WordPress, Sendable, MailChimp, Google Trends and other platforms have provided a tremendous opportunity for writers and journalists to reach audiences and develop deep conversations around niche topics.

These social tools offer a science behind data that helps us to be better analysts of information and how we disseminate it to the public. I’m always excited to further my study of the use of digital tools in the age of instant information.

What project are you most proud to have worked on and why?
ThePLUG is hands down my greatest project to date. It was conceived under the auspices of trying to gain more coverage for the incredible technology being developed by people that looked like me but were being overshadowed in critical news cycles by outlets focusing solely on the Mark Zuckerbergs, Elon Musks and Travis Kalanicks of the world.

I prototyped the newsletter in a very sketchy design, hoping to prove to the world that there was/is important and insightful information and business leadership being owned by people of color, which deserves to hold the same weight as the leaders we write case studies about. Nine months later I proved my theory. We went from just 50 subscribers to thousands who click open ThePLUG every single weekday morning.

I am also proud of the UberMENTOR project I created and launched during my time at Uber. I developed a partnership with Levo League and several corporate companies like Wells Fargo, which let millennials request a ride with a VP to glean advice on business, career changes, and professional development. The project took off and is now being hosted in several markets including Chicago and Boston.

What do you see as the most interesting technology on the horizon?
Artificial Intelligence is changing the game quicker than we mere mortals can keep up with. The implications of autonomous technology, virtual assistants, and robots taking over jobs is exciting, and also proffers a chilling reality. In the economy of the future, the widening skills gap will continue to be the most pressing issue we’ll need to solve with a commitment to high-quality training and education.

If you weren’t working in tech, what would you be doing?
I’d veer between traveling the world and working on local public policy issues to address economic inequity, urban development, and education in North Carolina, where I currently reside.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your tech career?
There’s never a final answer. There’s no room to become antiquated. There’s always something to learn or to create or a problem to solve in new and interesting ways.

What can companies do to create more inclusive environments?
This is a battle so many of us fight everyday as employees and as employers. I don’t have a silver bullet answer, but I do believe we can become much more intentional about inclusive environments by casting wider nets on how we recruit and retain talent.

What keeps you busy when you’re not being a technologist?
When I’m home on the weekends (rare), I strike out on long walks or take bike or bus rides around my neighborhood. I live next to a few coffee shops and museums and public parks which make for great escapes when I need to relax and rejuvenate. I’ve been prioritizing self-care and paying attention to when my mental health is asking me to breathe and take a break from constant movement.

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 Sherrell Dorsey

I am a social impact writer, social entrepreneur and advocate for environmental, social and economic equity in underserved communities. In addition to serving in various capacities as a marketer, content developer, and community liaison, I write frequently and passionately on the topics of sustainability, technology and digital inclusion for national publications.