Inspiring Figures is a monthly blog column where I share with you people who are catalysts in inspiring and motivating me. They’re people you should really know about. Last month featured Bolu Bello – a creator at heart. You can read her feature here.
🆕👩🏻🔬 Experimenting with this series
This month I wanted to experiment a bit with this series, I know a lot of people don’t necessarily enjoy reading a whole interview so I wanted to cover different mediums that may be more useful to those who like listening to podcasts or watching videos!
Live streaming has been something I’ve always personally wanted to dip my feet in. So this month’s feature was streamed earlier this week on Instagram Live, edited and uploaded onto YouTube and shared on Soundcloud (more coming soon!) A huge thank you once again to my brother, Clark, who helped me put everything together. ✨
And a thank you to everyone that joined in and of course to June’s Inspiring Figure, Naomi Thomas for getting involved. I’ve included the video and podcast for those that might have missed the stream. Don’t worry though – if reading is more your thing, I got chu covered! 🙈
This month features, Naomi Thomas.
Naomi is the ultimate girl boss entrepreneur in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is currently the CTO for Charlotte Consulting Group where she manages the tech and design. Charlotte Consulting Group aims to drive innovation to other businesses in North Carolina. She’s also one of the ladies behind the project, STEMinists and is a huge advocate for the woman in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
I first discovered Naomi when I watched her take over the Women In Tech Snapchat that I also took part in last year. Since then, I’ve been following her on Instagram and have enjoyed seeing aspects of her career life on stories – she’s been very encouraging and inspiring me during the last leap of my university life and of course, the little break between the start of my career!
Her journey – starting young and retaining interest
Naomi began her journey when she was 6 years old, where she built her first computer. Her parents took notice of Naomi’s curiosity in creating and building things and so put her through Women in Engineering summer camps and programs.
She went on to go to The University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she studied a dual degree in Computer Science and Business Management. Because of the 8 year-long curricula, she ended up dropping Computer Science but continued to get involved beyond the formal course – such as participating in full-stack development boot camps, Computer Science clubs and technology events. Most notably, she organised a group that helped make Computer Science fun for children – using Lego robotics!
After receiving a countless amount of no’s, she finally secured her first internship as an IT intern where she re-wired server rooms and helped set-up employee desks. She did a fantastic job that she got kept on to work part-time after the internship where she had the chance to explore web-development.
Naomi noted that this was a great experience as it was quite flexible and she had an opportunity to work on her own web-design company where she then later hired a consultant to help her with the marketing and HR side of the business. Bringing in her technical expertise and dipping her feet into the business world, Charlotte Consulting Group now drives innovation with local businesses across Charlotte.
The STEMinist project
Set-up by Naomi and a few other local Charlotte women in tech, this project aims to do two things:
- Spread exposure, draw attention and start a conversation about the problems of the lack of women in the STEM field.
- Retain women’s interest in STEM by offering a % of the money raised towards other women in tech organisation that helps provide a solution such as scholarships and courses to get women up and running.
The project is currently local in North Carolina but is aiming to push internationally by connecting with other women in tech around the world!
You can find out more about The STEMinist project here.
Technology is NOT just about coding.
When asked about advice for students interested in careers in technology, Naomi reminds us that technology is not just about learning to code and developing things. She herself is a great example – having a technical background but actually spending most of her days managing people to do the tech. She uses basketball as an example in the stream, for instance, the NBA has so many “tech” career opportunities such as Data Analytics that help with analysing players. It isn’t just coding! You can integrate different careers together!
Her main advice is to define what you really want in a career in technology – because there’s so many! Look around, explore through networking events and LinkedIn especially.
Dealing with Imposter Syndrome
Naomi spoke on a panel recently and although she had looked confident, she said that she had felt imposter syndrome hit her multiple times especially where she was the youngest panellist. Thoughts such as, “Why should older people listen to me? What can I bring into this that they don’t already know?” After a lot of positive affirmations and taking a step back, she realised that actually – she does have a lot of knowledge and value she can bring to the conversations.
““Everyone has different life experiences. Nobody has ever been in my shoes and so, I will always have a unique perspective to bring to conversations!””
As a millennium, she provided value in knowing the key trends on social media, what younger people were reacting and engaging with and although others at the conference had years of credentials, she also had her own. Afterall – we all have to start somewhere!
“Write down all your achievements from birth, everything good people have said about you and don’t forget them!”
Challenges as a Women of Colour
At her first internship, with the 100 employees, only 6 women were working in the company – to the point they each had their own cubicle in the toilets!
Replaying her experiences, Naomi realised that not only was she one of the few women in her Computer Science class but also always a minority as a woman of colour. When asked to be put into group projects, she sometimes felt outcasted because everyone else would always partner up with others but her. Race and gender were sometimes definitely questions she had thought the reasoning behind their choices.
Diversifying within women in tech is an issue that should be spoken about more at Women in Tech events – starting these conversations will help drive initiatives that will help find solutions that aren’t just about gender.
Naomi also answered some questions we received during the stream including more tips on networking and picking yourself up after unexpected grades, you can skip to those below at 32:52:
Video of the Live Stream (11th June)
I hope you enjoyed a different spin to Inspiring Figures this month. I’ve always wanted to try live streaming, podcasting and publishing more videos (which I’ve been pretty vocal about!) so I thought this would be a fun way to try it all out for my own skill development but of course, for those who prefer videos or listening to podcasts over reading. Let me know what you think!
I’ve got lots to learn, but I’m more than willing and I’ve got a backload of ideas ready to be shipped 🚢🤗