Behind the Click: Kimberly Bryant, Senior Biotech Manager & Founder of BlackGirlsCode

April 19, 2012  |  

Current Occupation: Senior Biotech Manager/Founder BlackGirlsCode
Favorite website: www.BlackGirlsCode.com
Favorite read: The Alchemist
Recent read: The Hunger Games
2012′s ultimate goal: Grow and expand Black Girls CODE to three cities.
Quote Governing Your Mission or a Quote that Inspires You: “I come as one, I stand as 10,000” Maya Angelou
Twitter handle: @Blackgirlscode

Welcome back to another installment of the largest running profile series on African-American women in technology.  I have a very special entry for you this time readers!  Ever met an extremely successful executive holding  it down who also runs a robust philanthropic endeavor ? Well, let me introduce you to Kimberly Bryant.   This biotechnology/engineering professional is changing lives in a profound way through her organization BlackGirlsCode that is fast becoming a premier collective that introduces young Black women  to technology and computer programming.  I am so glad to have caught up with this colleague.  Here’s a bit of our recent encounter:

LDC: So Kimberly, what was it like growing up in the South and what led you to pursue a career in engineering?

KB: I grew up in Memphis, TN which is a small metropolitan city in the South.  Although I was not surrounded by technology, I was lucky to grow up during a time when it was cool to be smart and at least for me I had many opportunities to strive and achieve throughout my K-12 academic career.  My strong focus in math and science led me to a career in engineering at Vanderbilt University at a time when the recruitment of women in STEM paths was at an all time high.

LDC:   Tell me a little bit about your current position.

KB: I have worked in the Biotech/Pharma industry for more than 15 years in a variety of leadership roles in engineering management.  My current role is a Senior Biotech Project Manager.  In this role I get the opportunity to work with a multiple of clients on projects ranging from IT and infrastructure upgrades, manufacturing design projects, and technical transfer projects.  Because of my diverse background in engineering and IT, I have an opportunity to work in multiple business functions which makes my current position both challenging and exciting.

LDC: Given that you have such a demanding career, what led you to create BlackGirlsCode?

KB: After many years of working in Corporate America, I decided that my skills and abilities could be transfered to an entrepreneurial endeavor in the rapidly exploding mobile health field.  I began to network in the tech community and attend technical events where I found myself one of very few women and minorities.  My focus shifted at this point.  I felt a very strong drive to reach back into my community and help other young women of color discover the many opportunities for career growth and achievement in technology and decided to create Black Girls CODE as a vehicle to expose young women of color to the technical space and introduce them to computer programming and digital technology.  I feel strongly that it is our mission to “change the equation” so that more women and minorities enter the IT field as creators.

LDC: How did you work with Bayview Youth (community group) to get them on board to support your idea?

KB: From the start of our program, we made a commitment to be a part of our community and to offer the Black Girls CODE programs to the youth who were least likely to have similar opportunities or programs available to them.  The Bayview-Hunters Pointe community is one of the oldest and still largest African-American communities in the Bay Area.  It sits literally right at the footsteps of technology and discovery being less than an hours drive from Silicon Valley and at the foot of the biotechnology hub in the bay.  Yet most young people in the community have very little to no insight into biotechnology or computer programming and little exposure to these STEM areas as potential career paths.  We were very blessed to find a strong community partner in the Bayview Youth Organization- 100% College Prep Institute , who literally opened their doors and their rolodexes to help us get our program off the ground.  They allowed us to launch our pilot program from their new computer lab and actively recruited students from their existing programs to our pilot class.  We have maintained a strong commitment to Bayview-Hunters Pointe and will continue to reach out to these students and the community as we grow and expand.

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