Shannon Morales, Founder of Tribaja and Diversitech Summit, is here to make a difference.
The forward-thinking Morales had a virtual sit-down with The Black Wall Street Times to discuss her experience, accessibility, and the future of tech.
Tribaja fills a glaring gap by vetting equity-minded employers and connecting them to a diverse pool of tech talent. Tribaja’s signature summit, Diversitech, takes place annually to provide career exploration and development in technology. This year’s virtual summit takes place one month from today, March 16, 2022 – March 18, 2022.
Morales – like many Black and Hispanic folks – didn’t have access to the tech world for many years. Before she was CEO of Tribaja, Morales worked in the White-male dominated industry of finance.
As a creative and ambitious Afro-Latina navigating through a toxic workplace of discrimination and unconscious bias, she often questioned how she would ever advance in finance with such barriers, but where there’s a will there’s a way in.
Through her job, she was able to attend a three-month internship at a Silicon Valley tech company. She described the experience as “eye-opening” because so many people were making six figures in their 9 – 5, in addition to creative tech side hustles.
Silicon Valley was a place that embraced entrepreneurship in a way she hadn’t experienced before, and as a woman of more action than words, she wouldn’t be “bound by limitations to not expand on those thoughts.” And the rest is (technically) history.
Morales then got to work. So much so that it became a part of her company’s name. Trabajo translates to “work” in Spanish and along with adding “Tribe” for flavor, Tribaja was born in 2017.
Morales doesn’t take her position lightly and knows it’s bigger than her. She states, “when you’re a trailblazer you have to set the stage for those behind you who are eventually looking to be where I’m at.”
Her advice for those aspiring to enter tech is, “find someone who is smarter than you.” Morales stated people can often limit their potential by settling into societal routines and associating with others who offer little less than familiarity. Yet, she says having access to someone with more experience within the same field can be vital for a tech newbie.
“It’s an emotional job… I have to go to bat with VPs, CEOs, COOs, CTOs… about how to build workplace culture,” Morales told The BWSTimes. “These are conversations we weren’t able to have years ago.”
“The population is shifting. Things are changing. People are not quiet anymore, I have a large responsibility to hold company’s accountable for the words they preach. It’s not just pretty words for the moment. We’re building a revolution. It’s not going to stop. It’s going to keep going.”
Morales knows the world of tech can be intimidating. She offers informal meetings during Diversitech to meet tech pro’s on all levels.
“I can create pathways for people like me to succeed”
When asked about tech company’s willingness to make tangible and permanent changes, Morales said some operate more intentionally and purposeful while others may use it as a formality to check off boxes. Even still, Morales prides herself on providing opportunities to all people. What’s equally gratifying, however, is “telling billion-dollar businesses we don’t want to work with them because they’re not being intentional about hiring people of color.”
Tribaja knocks down traditional barriers of entry into the world of tech by curating content, providing scholarships and grant programs. They also offer 100% free coding, software engineering, data science, project management training, along with so many other resources to help a layman or laywoman get a foot in the door.
Her piece of advice is to “Find Your Tribe” and locate people who share your interest and passion. Secondly, she added, “Change Your Circle” so that you’re constantly learning, constantly growing.