Technology has become the de facto harbinger of opportunity. Therefore, those who do not embrace technology as a major component of their career path will struggle to keep pace with an accelerating future. Sadly, the people most in need of that opportunity will be hurt the most; not because of their ability, but because of their lack of exposure. You see, skills connected to a person's ability to think and reason know no gender, ethnicity, or even age. But all too often, those abilities remain unrealized.
The good news is that we find ourselves at a seminal moment in time that, if we take full advantage, could enable opportunity for any person. Globalization has created extreme prosperity for U.S. businesses. This has subsequently led to the lowest unemployment rate in history, thus the highest level of desperation for finding talent since the second world war. Employers are now forced to find ways to "include" more applicants, rather than just "exclude" those that don't fit their digitized bias for filtering resumes.
Now is the time for people to be considered for their abilities, not just their histories.
That is my story. I entered the workforce in a somewhat similar time in the 1980s when personal computers were first taking the world by storm, but employers could not yet find college graduates that understood this emerging technology. A community college dropout, professional sound engineer for rock and roll concerts, and survivor of a troubled youth, my resume did not afford me much consideration. In 1985, I begged my way into a one week, minimum wage job putting computers together for a retail computer store in a strip mall where my friend worked. A task they had allotted 5 days to complete took me 23 hours - nonstop. They thought I was nuts for working so hard for so little, which was just the motivation required to hire me full time.
I stacked certificates from Novell, Compaq, Hewlett Packard and others. After four years, I moved to Atlanta, joined a larger technology company and with the help of some great mentors, worked my way into management. The fifth-largest software company in the world at the time recruited me into a sales engineer job that eventually led, again with great mentors, to running marketing strategy for a $1.2B product. I was fortunate enough to work with and learn from Eric Schmidt before he went to Google and many others that are defining the future of tech today.
At the peak of my career, shortly after the next company I ran marketing and strategy for was sold, I moved to Russia to coach young adults living in an alcoholic society and lacking positive role models to be successful in business. This deepened my understanding that individuals not able to journey the path popular society chooses as "right," like me, had an uphill battle just to be considered for small opportunities. But, when developed and encouraged, even a little, those same people become the hardest working, most grateful employees a company will ever hire.
The question facing me was how can I help more people than I can meet face to face to discover and prepare for opportunities matched to their abilities, and how do we de-risk such non-standard, "risky" hires for employers?
And that's when the idea for PAIRIN was born.
PAIRIN was created as a social enterprise company whose mission is to make education relevant and hiring equitable. We provide web-based software solutions to regional, state and national workforce and education programs focused on career preparation, education planning, and skills-based job placement. PAIRIN's My Journey platform creates personalized, skills-based matches to optimal careers, professional development and jobs. We help mentors, like those that helped me succeed, identify areas of development for the people they serve based on their unique abilities and stage of life. My Journey also facilitates direct connections to state agency resources, assessments, tools and applications for seamless navigation and process management.
Many workforce programs that use PAIRIN's products report up to 92% retention rates after one year for students they've placed and higher employer satisfaction with their graduates than those hired elsewhere. Employers that use PAIRIN for skills-based hiring increase diversity up to 3x within one year and lower turnover up to 67%.
Diversifying America's workforce, especially in tech, is not about merely making businesses more colorful. It's about making them more representative of society as a whole. Diversity of thought, ideas and perspective must be the goal, which requires valuing people from ALL walks of life and experience. GlobalMindED's mission of creating a capable diverse talent pipeline working with educators, businesses and policymakers is critical. Education with limited perspective is merely other people's ideas packaged in someone else's body. We must aspire for more, and businesses can lead the way. Joining lives lived differently for a common purpose could, and should, be the greatest gift of industry to society. I dream of a time when this becomes our nation's reality. May we hasten its arrival through technology with heart. I am honored to be recognized for PAIRIN's inclusive work.