Tech Spotlight: Torin Perez

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?
Lead Global Product Evangelist, DreamAfrica

How did you get into tech?
I was a college freshman in 2005 when Facebook was introduced to the world. Little did we know then that we were the early adopters using what is now the most widely adopted social media platform in the world. Then, in 2007 the iPhone changed our lives forever as we were introduced to having devices as powerful as PCs in our pockets. Thinking about this question took me back to these two memories, and also reminded me of my belief that technology is and always has been a means to an end. I think of myself as a person on a mission to do meaningful work in the world, and technology is a means for me to do that.

What’s your favorite technology to work with and why?
I enjoy technology that connects people in meaningful ways. This could be conferencing technology that lets you see other people on screen like FaceTime and Skype, team communication technology that can convey energy and cohesion like Slack, and live video broadcast technology like Facebook Live.

What project are you most proud to have worked on and why?
DreamAfrica has been one of the great privileges of my life to work on. We are on a mission to celebrate cultural representation in digital media, and there is no turning back now. After being selected for the TED Residency, doing a TED Talk last year, and recently being featured at Harvard, we are affirmed in our belief that one day we can live in a world where cultural understanding is the norm. For decades, the traditional entertainment and educational content industry has neglected to include content about and created by people of color. We see our role as building a home for multicultural content creators from Africa, the diaspora, and around the world, and in doing so providing a window for people to experience authentic culture directly from the source.

During my travels with the organization promoting our app, I have watched tears roll down the face of a Kenyan woman who could not believe we would share and preserve her grandmothers stories in her native tongue. I have met excited mothers and fathers of who want to instill the spirit of curiosity and discovery in their children from a young age. I have met passionate people from every continent, who awakened us to realize that it was not just the rich tradition of African storytelling that had been left in the dark. In fact, amazing creations like Bino & Fino animations are everywhere, just waiting to be discovered, shared, and seen. I’m so proud of what we have already done, and the great work that lies ahead. Ten years from now, I hope we’ll be able to say that we are still doing important work, having fun doing it, and making positive change in the world in some way.

What do you see as the most interesting technology on the horizon?
Any technology that will allow people to communicate seamlessly across languages or physical impediments.

If you weren’t working in tech, what would you be doing?
Exactly what I do now. I feel like the luckiest person in the world because I get a chance every day to do the work I love. I care deeply about people and I’ve been blessed with a voice that I use for speaking engagements and programs meant to inspire inclusive leaders, organizations and teams. I know the messages I share are building up people into better leaders who are more fulfilled with their work and more connected with their colleagues.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your tech career?
Your product should always be a work in progress. The moment you reach “perfection” is the moment you stop innovating.

What can companies do to create more inclusive environments?
All companies have one thing in common—they are made up of people. This means that when we make inclusion matter to everyone, we contribute to an environment where feeling included is the norm. I’m proud to be one of the voices now shaping this narrative that creating an inclusive environment is not just for a select few, or to do someone a favor. Inclusion is great for business. I invite you learn more about my work in this area and I hope to support the efforts of organizations focused on this important work.

What keeps you busy when you’re not being a technologist?
I love traveling, unplugging from technology while writing my book, and hanging out with friends.

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.