Today’s Tech Role Model is Pariss Chandler. She is the founder of the #BlackTechPipeline platform. This platform serves to support and bring exposure to the black community in the technology industry. She also created the hashtag #BlackTechTwitter and cultivated the movement. Parris, better known as Pariss Athena, is a mom to a six-year-old boy named Sevee, and works as a Front-End Developer in Boston, MA.
What’s your official title and how long have you been in this role?
Founder and Front-End Developer. I’ve been a Front-End Dev for the past two years and a Founder for the past five months. (Note: Recently, Pariss has left her role as a Front-End Developer for an opportunity that will help her build her business, #BlackTechPipeline, while still honing her skills as a developer.)
Walk me through a typical day in your role. What activities do you engage in? What types of meetings do you join? When’s lunch?
I wake up early to make my breakfast- cafe con leche, toast with butter and jelly and a cheese stick. I open up my laptop and tend to emails, DM’s, Slack notifications and any messages that need my immediate attention. I constantly check my calendar to double check my meeting times and who I’m speaking with, and I pull up any information I jotted down prior to that meeting so that I’m best prepared when going into it.
Then I usually attend meetings with contributors and partners of the #BlackTechPipeline platform. I also meet with people who mentor and support me with help and guidance. I am also a mentor and supporter of other community members projects. I get on calls with them to listen and offer any advice or support that I can.
Lunch is sort of all day. I’m a snack eater! If I’m home, I probably walk into the kitchen every hour for something small and satisfying. If I’m not home, I get one big plate of food and head to wherever I need to be.
What skills/technologies help you succeed?
Being a developer is definitely a big one. Programming helps me financially and allows me to stay and thrive in an industry that won’t be dying any time soon. It’s created a stable life for me.
Being a writer is another big skill. I went to school for film and screen studies before my career transition. I enjoy writing to captivate an audience and I think it’s important as a businesswoman. I am constantly writing tweets and emails, so you need to be good at reading and conveying emotion online. Having that skill is what helps build a following, cause an impact, and create change.
What’s the most fun or creative part of your founder role?
The most fun and creative part of my role is just planning how I’ll tackle everything. With coding, I love that it’s my choice to decide how I’ll build out and style a design. I get to look at and dissect what elements it will take to optimize each component. I like writing the least code possible to make it as dynamic, responsive and identical to the design as I can.
As a businesswoman, I love planning. I love booking my meetings and preparing for them. I love doing research, talking to different types of people about their specialties and experiences, and learning from them. Running my own business allows for so much flexibility in how I’d like to gain knowledge and how I’ll incorporate what I learn into my own brand strategy.
What are the biggest challenges you face in this founder role?
Imposter syndrome! I constantly feel like I don’t know what the heck I’m doing but I just keep doing it- whatever “it” is. I follow my gut and my instincts and do what I feel is right. I’ve always ended up in predicaments that I didn’t ask for, but it’s up to me to make them work. Even though I may not have experience in whatever “it” is, I run with it and make it work.
What teams/individuals do you work with cross-functionally? Can you give an example of a time when you collaborated with another group/individual?
I collaborate with tons of teams who specialize in all different things. This can be from UX designers and back-end developers to lawyers and event planners. I like to connect with and collaborate with lots of different people, depending upon what I’m aiming to do. I have a React Native project that was my idea but I collaborated with a project manager, graphic designer, UX designer, copywriter, and a full stack developer to bring it to life.
The PM made sure that the designers and copywriter would have deliverables for me at different check in dates. I worked with the full stack developer on front end tasks that I needed help with and back end tasks that I had no experience. For back end tasks, I got to pair program and learn from someone more experienced and knowledgeable in that area.
What’s an area where you’re trying to grow in your founder role?
Aside from technical skills, what personality traits/characteristics make for an ideal candidate in your role?
An ideal candidate should be open to learning, feedback, being driven and challenged. If you’re open to new ways of solving problems and willing to respectfully hear how your solution could be optimized without having an attitude or being offended, then you will do great things.
What skills (tech/non-tech) have you improved as a result of working in this founder role?
Definitely confidence. I’ve become more confident in asking for help, advice and opportunities. I’m not scared to reach out, even if it’s multiple times. I am confident in taking advantage of opportunities; even if I feel like I’m not totally suited for them, I give it my absolute best. I suffer from imposter syndrome, but it doesn’t stop me from just going for it now. I just do it.
In your role, what metrics define success?
Influence, definitely. If I’ve changed perspectives for the better, if something I’ve done has created an opportunity for someone- I’ve succeeded. My goal is to influence enough people in the black community both to get into tech and become founders of their own business/platform. Reaching these goals requires many smaller steps along the way, so even the first steps that people take are a success to me.
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