The Black Professionals in Tech Network (BPTN) Summit is an annual virtual event that offers Black professionals the opportunity to connect, network, share resources and insights, and more. This year, Gabi Burns – Product Owner I, xfit – attended this event that spanned across two days in October. As one of the leaders of the Black Experience Resource Group (BERG) at Net Health, she first learned about the summit when Net Health’s Recruiting team shared it with the group.
Living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Gabi admits that it’s difficult to find ways to connect in the Black communities around her when there’s not much offered to begin with. She took this as an opportunity to meet others like her and network. “I don’t usually see people that look like me in positions that I’m in,” she said. “So I wanted to see if that held true in other companies and spheres of the tech industry. I was then empowered. I saw so many Black women and Black men leading the force and trying to help others get to where they’re at.”
A Global Event Featuring Thought-Provoking, Engaging Activities
Over the course of two days, Gabi attended several talks and breakout sessions held by different speakers. A couple that really stood out to her were the Black Women Leading Black Professionals talk and the Responsible Artificial Intelligence (AI) breakout session. Three women in leadership roles spoke in the former. They spoke about their experiences as they got to these positions and what motivated them along the way.
“It was really motivating to see someone who started in Support like I did and is now at a VP level at a big company because of how she took advantage of different opportunities that came her away, rather than letting them pass her by,” noted Gabi.
The AI breakout session was just as interesting and fascinating to experience. It showed ways in which professionals can think critically and eliminate as much bias as possible when in the realm of analytics or building AI software. For example, speakers noted how there are things that may be impacted by racial or socioeconomic divides that we don’t really think about. Take a bank loan application, for example.
In the breakout session, it was pointed out how many individuals who are in the same racial or socioeconomic background tend to live in the same ZIP codes. And while a person may not be looking at names or a person’s race on the application, they are looking at their ZIP code, and this may skew numbers when making decisions.
“It was cool for me to get insight into ways that people are addressing these little things that we don’t think about,” said Gabi.
A Look at Black Leadership and Excellence
Other conversations and breakout sessions revolved around coding as well as how to break free from perfectionism. While the majority of audience members were Black professionals, there were also individuals from different ally groups, including Net Health’s own recruiters. Gabi felt encouraged by all the people she met – connections with a wide range of people she still stays in touch with.
She encourages others to attend BPTN annual summits in coming years, as it allows everyone to connect with different companies and gather insights from their latest trends and initiatives. After a two-day attendance, she now also feels inspired to attend more networking events herself.
“The BPTN summit was a good celebration and a great example to see what Black excellence can look like globally and virtually. To look at the humanness and value of Black employees and co-workers. And what I want to achieve in my professional life.”
To learn more about BPTN, visit: https://www.bptn.com/