Why not me? Students inspired to go for their dreams by Silicon Valley CEO

Students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) believe they can be superheroes in their chosen career after meeting with a Silicon Valley dreamer and creator.

The talk from Jason Mayden, co-founder and CEO of Super Heroic, came on the last day of the #DMUglobal diversity in tech trip.

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The #DMUglobal diversity in tech trip students at Playground Global

The former global design director at Nike shared his story from a teenager who couldn't afford the sneakers he dreamed of creating to the reasons he launched a company that builds children's products.

"Jason's talk was really amazing," said Advertising and Marketing Communications graduand Karene Spaulding.

"He was talking about wearable tech, which is something that I'm really interested in since I'm looking to go into fashion branding.

"He gave me insight into what it was like for him growing up, the culture, everything he's been through, which sounded like some of the things that I've gone through and was really motivational.

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Karene Spaulding

"Something he said - 'why not me?' - has really stuck with me, because when you do think about it, why not me? Even though I'm a young black female, why can't I work in tech, why can't I work in marketing, why can't I work in an industry where it typically isn't someone like me?"

The talk and Q&A session was just one of the activities at an event hosted by venture fund and design studios Playground Global in Palo Alto, California.

Students also enjoyed a tour of the facilities, including the machine shop, along with a talk from fellow residents Essential, a tech company founded by Android creator Andy Rubin.


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Wolfgang Muller, head of channel sales, shared what's next for smart phones and how acquiring talent is a major hold-up in advancing technology.

He said: "My best advice for moving into the tech industry is to really think about Artificial Intelligence, about how all these different technologies are coming together and what that means.

"There's a shortage of those type of engineers and I think that's where everything's heading."

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Essential's Wolfgang Muller with DMU graduand Jamel Higgins

Reflecting on the week, hosted by DMU's partners Colorintech, a non-profit organisation that believes in a fairer tech industry, Karene said she'd loved everything about the trip.

"We've met such amazing people who are from backgrounds that we're from and have had the same life experiences we've had.

"Sometimes we have doubts and think we can't do this, so it's amazing to know that we can.

“I think Dion McKenzie, Ashleigh Ainsley and Milly Zah from Colorintech have been amazing and Associate Professor Mark Prescod, who is also my lecturer, has been wonderful and continued to guide me.”

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Asha Degraff

Asha Degraff, who studies Business and Management, added: "This whole week has been very impactful.

"We've heard a lot of things from different people, their stories, their experiences, their personal challenges, so it's been great.

"It's helped, mainly because I can see so many diversity initiatives and there are actually companies going above and beyond what they are supposed to do.

"Some companies just claim to be diverse and don't put anything in place to be diverse. But you can actively see them here, like at cloud content management company Box, where Dre, who is openly gay, is prospering in her role."

Posted on Monday 9 July 2018

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