We spent a little time with Stephanie Lampkin, the Founder and CEO of Blendoor and one of our Tapia 2019 plenary speakers. We invite you to learn about this inspirational entrepreneur and programmer who is helping to increase diversity in the world of tech.
Please tell me about your childhood.
I grew up in the DC Metro area with my Mom and her sister. My aunt was studying computer science in 1984 and I was able to grow up with a role model programmer who looked like me. In those days tech was not white men in hoodies and flip flops. My aunt connected me when I was in 8th grade with Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA) and I began coding. By my senior year I was a full stack developer and taking AP Computer Science at high school on Saturday mornings from 8 am - 12 noon, they could not fit it into the regular curriculum.
Tell us about the years following high school.
I left home at age 17 to go to Stanford. I went to their Summer Engineering Academy. There I found computer science to be very male dominated and chose to pursue a joint major in Management Science and Engineering. I got involved in SWE and NSBE, participated in Inroads and secured internships every summer with great organizations like Northrup Grumman, LockHeed Martin and Deloitte.
Was life in California different than Metro DC?
Palo Alto was a big culture shock coming from DC, which is very diverse. In Palo Alto you rarely see African Americans, so being both black and successful makes you both hyper visible and invisible at the same time. After college I moved to Charlotte North Carolina, a more racially diverse community. There I found that the job I'd taken was giving me limited opportunities to advancement, so I went to MIT for my MBA.
What led you to starting Blendoor?
I have watched many tech companies struggle to diversify. I saw that there was a real opportunity to build a solution that can scale to solve this issue. I wanted to create both a marketplace and capture the data that would enable companies to successfully hire a more diverse workforce. I began by teaching myself the programming skills I needed and built my first version of the app. As it has evolved we are doing more and more to understand what is happening in an organization's hiring process.
What is next for Blendoor?
I'll be talking, at the Tapia Conference, about our latest project - BlendScore. We'll be rating and ranking companies on their equity and inclusion. But it is not just about measuring but also advising companies on how they can make systematic change and improve.
You have led a fascinating life. What is the most unexpected thing people should know about you?
I am a former downhill ski racer; I am now an adventure skier. What I love to do is debunk stereotypes. No one expects a downhill racer to be a 4' 11'' black woman.
See Stephanie Lampkin deliver her plenary address at Tapia 2019 on Thursday September 19th. Also, talk with Stephanie and learn more about Blendoor at the Blendoor booth at the Tapia 2019 Career Fair.