Get to Know Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA)
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Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA) logo

By Aidan Currie

Hello and Happy Pride 2020! This will certainly be one of the most unusual Pride months on the books, and it’s important that we continue to find the silver linings in life and work during these tumultuous times.

I have the great pleasure of being the Executive Director at Reaching Out MBA, a nonprofit that for more than twenty years has worked to increase the influence of the LGBT+ community in business by educating, inspiring and connecting MBA students and alumni. We run programming throughout the year – including a Fellowship program that provides a minimum of $20,000 to students selected by their schools – to ensure LGBT+ MBAs connect and learn from others in business, have access to recruitment opportunities, and spaces for our community to gather and inspire each other.

Like everyone, the MBA community has been greatly impacted by COVID-19, in the short term with altered or rescinded summer internships –  and in the longer term with uncertainty in the jobs market that students will encounter upon graduation.

But here’s the good news. In these difficult times, many of our organization partners have shown outstanding leadership by quickly re-configuring what a summer internship can look like in the MBA community. This means providing interns with an opportunity to re-imagine their traditional internships and take the summer to give back by supporting a nonprofit of their choice as we manage through these difficult times.

For example, Corey Fowler, a Reaching Out Fellow completing his first year of Tepper School of Business (Carnegie Mellon University), has been able to pivot from his planned internship at Boston Consulting Group in Pittsburgh. BCG has offered Corey the opportunity to join the Reaching Out MBA team as we work to develop engaging virtual events that continue to serve the needs of our students and alumni in the wake of COVID-19.

I spoke to Corey recently about how this program came about. “Given this global crisis, BCG developed a Social Impact Ambassadorship that enables incoming summer consultants to spend their summer working with a nonprofit of their choosing instead of the traditional client experience. This allows interns to give back to organizations they care about, either through front-line service in their community or skill-based volunteerism.”

When asked why he chose Reaching Out MBA, Fowler says: “As a ROMBA Fellow, I’ve been involved with the organization since the early days of my MBA experience and have seen first-hand the impact that Reaching Out has on the LGBT+ community.  I thought long and hard about where I would have the most impact. In the end, working with Reaching Out was the best way for me to leverage my skills and personal experience to support the LGBT+ community.”

How do you hope you can make a difference in the fight against COVID 19 this summer? Says Fowler, “organizations all over the world are having to significantly rethink their operations in light of COVID-19.  I’d like to look back on this summer experience and feel proud that I used my education and skills to help an organization that has done so much for the historically marginalized LGBT+ community.  From a professional growth perspective, I am hoping to sharpen my contingency and crisis planning skills that I think will benefit me throughout my consulting career.”

We thank all of our partners who have decided to continue their support of Reaching Out MBA in these difficult times, in part by donating their human capital to help raise up nonprofits and other community organizations as we continue to serve our constituents.

How Tech Leads The Change In Higher Education
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tech, laptops graphic education theme

by Doug Bonderud

The “IT guy” stereotype is entrenched in popular culture: Socially awkward and technically adept, these experts excel at connecting devices and fixing network problems—but they’re rarely consulted about strategic business decisions.

This pervasive attitude translates to a lack of action at the boardroom level: Just 29 percent of CIOs are full-time boardroom members, despite a 71 percent jump in the total number of technology C-suite positions over the past few years. According to Damian Doyle, assistant vice president of enterprise infrastructure solutions at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, this also holds true at many colleges and universities.

“While there are an increasing number of institutions that recognize the strategic value of IT, many still view IT as a necessary function: Schools need to have it, but it’s not strategic,” says Doyle. As a result, IT experts are often brought in after decisions have been made, limiting their ability to positively impact policy and spending.
But change is on the horizon: At schools such as Oregon State University, new approaches to on-campus IT have shifted the perception of technology teams. With research firm Deloitte now highlighting tech initiatives, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) migrations, identity, and access management adoption and strategic risk management solutions as some of the top industry trends in 2020, tech teams must adopt new strategies to stand out from the IT crowd.

Here are three ways technology leaders can help take charge in higher education:

1. Prioritize the People Before the Technology

Technology is the mechanism, not the mission. While Software as a Service, the Internet of Things, or Wi-Fi 6 deployments can help improve user access and reduce overall complexity, they’re not enough in isolation. Doyle puts it simply: “We’re not in the business of technology. We’re in the business of higher education. We are a support organization.”

Delivering on this mandate means prioritizing people—something many IT leaders haven’t been taught to do. In practice, this means better communication with stakeholders at all levels of the organization, from staff and students to the university board. It means taking the initiative and asking questions about technology needs rather than simply responding to immediate technology demands. “It’s all about trust and meeting people where they are,” says Doyle.

2. A Proven Digital Transformation Approach

As noted by an EDUCAUSE Review, effective digital transformation is now critical for colleges to leverage the competitive advantage of emerging technologies. But according to author, speaker, and innovation adviser Greg Satell, the biggest factor in successful digital transformations isn’t technology investment; it’s how users leverage new technologies to achieve specific outcomes.

For IT teams, this presents a unique challenge: Their innate understanding of technology means they’re predisposed to finding solutions to problems that aren’t on the radar of other departments. As Doyle puts it, IT experts often have, “the perfect solution for a problem you didn’t ask about.”

Getting other campus leaders on board means listening first and speaking second. IT teams need to discover where technology meets department expectations and where there’s room for improvement before advocating for new 5G connections or single sign-on solutions.

3. Translate Technical Complexity and Avoid Jargon

To excel in IT, technical skills are paramount. But, “to be a leader requires a very different skillset. It’s about how you relay the value of IT. How do you help translate IT? How do you meet people where they are?” asks Doyle, who offers a simple rule for achieving this aim: no technical jargon.

Consider the case of information security solutions, often seen by the administration as a necessary spend rather than something of strategic value. While IT professionals can articulate the hard data—common attack vectors, data volumes, and the expanding number of connected endpoints—in support of the purchase, to capture executive interest, Doyle suggests that IT pros “need to tell the right story.”

Here, it’s not about the number and type of malware threats identified and remediated, it’s about the cost savings delivered because there have been no major incidents over the past several months. It’s the positive public perception that comes with secure registration and student ID systems. Effectively translating technology helps identify IT input as a strategic advantage rather than an afterthought.

Source: EdTech: Focus on Higher Education

Tips for Leading a Strong and Diverse Team During a Pandemic
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By Mariano Garcia,
Civil Trial Attorney, Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley PA

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a healthcare and economic crisis across the country and around the globe. It has also posed some difficult questions for businesses and their workers, like law firms and their attorneys and staff.

There has been a wide range of issues stemming from the pandemic. As an employer with offices throughout Florida, we also have first-hand experience with some of the complications caused by the economic downturn. At the same time, we also understand how important it is to maintain a diverse and inclusive workplace. This is an essential part of our identity as a law firm, which we believe helps us better serve the people and businesses we represent.

Businesses, including law firms, must understand that employment-related and other decisions made now in response to the pandemic can have a long-term impact. They should be mindful of how those moves can affect their ability to recruit and retain a diverse and capable workforce.

Below are some essential tips for weathering COVID-19 without jeopardizing your team.

Keep Diversity in Mind When Considering Cutbacks.

Mariano Garcia
Mariano Garcia

The crisis has unfortunately forced some employers to trim their payrolls by cutting the headcount. Still, it is vital to retain a diverse and inclusive workforce during the pandemic and to be able to retain talent when economic conditions improve.

Company leaders can prioritize diversity by keeping it at top-of-mind when deciding whom to lay off and whom to keep on the job. They should ensure that such decisions are based on objective criteria rather than subjective factors that may make diverse employees more susceptible to the termination.

Leaders can also combat potential biases by being mindful of assignment creation, especially as many employees continue to work from home. Providing your diverse workforce with opportunities to work on important projects or tasks can go a long way in helping all to build confidence and experience on the job.

Understand That Everyone Has Different Personal Obligations

The pandemic, school closures, and the shift to telework can be incredibly stressful for working parents and people who are caring for the elderly or other family members.

It is crucial to acknowledge that everyone has different cultural and personal obligations, and it is especially important to show a commitment to working with employees during this time of anxiety and uncertainty. Allowing for flexible time off during the week and alternative scheduling arrangements can play a huge role in easing the burden for many employees.

Supplement In-Person Networking with Resources for Remote Profile Building

Although social distancing means many people are staying home, it does not mean that all career-building and networking opportunities need to be put on pause.

Law firms and other businesses should already be thinking about helping people bolster their online networking efforts. Tutorials on leveraging Linkedin, getting involved in webinars and other events, and participating in professional organizations can ultimately lead to maintaining and/or expanding contacts.

Internal marketing departments can play a crucial role in this training and development. It is also important to implement standards for tracking these efforts to ensure that they pay off in the long run.

Following the above tips can help all business leaders maintain a strong and diverse team of employees.

Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley PA is a Florida-based personal injury law firm that has represented thousands of clients with car accident, medical malpractice, brain injury and numerous other injury claims.

No, Elon Musk Is Not The Second Richest Person In The World — Here’s Why
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elon Musk is pictured speaking to an audience using a microphone

Thanks to Tesla’s roaring stock, Elon Musk’s net worth has nearly quadrupled during the Covid-19 pandemic, racing from $24.6 billion in mid-March to a current $126.8 billion by Forbes’ estimate. But despite this meteoric rise, the 49-year-old is not the world’s second-richest person yet.

Forbes currently has Musk in the No. 3 spot, behind Jeff Bezos, who reigns supreme at $182.6 billion, and French luxury goods tycoon Bernard Arnault, worth $140.6 billion. With the surge in the value of Tesla shares this week, Musk surpassed Bill Gates, who is now in fourth place, worth $119.4 billion.

Musk owns 21% of Tesla but has pledged more than half his stake as collateral for personal loans; Forbes applies a 25% discount to his shareholding to account for the loans. Musk’s net worth estimate includes $25 billion worth of options that he was awarded since May as part of a historic 12-tranche compensation plan.

Musk became eligible for the fourth tranche in late October after Tesla exceeded the cumulative EBITDA requirement, but Tesla has yet to confirm in public filings that it has certified the results. A representative for Musk did not reply to a request for comment from Forbes in time for publication. Until the receipt of the fourth tranche is confirmed, Forbes is only counting some 25 million options from the package towards Musk’s net worth.

Continue to Forbes to read the full article.

Atlanta-based edtech startup uses pop songs to tackle students’ fear of math
LinkedIn
A little girl doing homework and listening to music

By Erin Schilling of the Business Journals (Atlanta) 

Marcus Blackwell Jr. always struggled with math in school. Instead of algebra equations, he preferred practicing gospel and classical jazz music on the piano. But during his sophomore year at Morehouse College, he realized just how intertwined the two subjects are.

“You cannot do music without understanding math, whether you’re talking about rhythm, reading sheet music, time signatures — all math,” Blackwell said.

Blackwell overcame his intimidation of numbers when he saw its similarity with music, so much so that he pivoted to a math degree.

Once equipped with the numerical expertise to match his musical acumen, Blackwell founded Make Music Count, an education tech startup app that uses a virtual keyboard and popular songs to teach students math equations.

‘Educational reform’

The app has equations that coincide with curriculum for K-12th grades. Students solve an equation at the top of the screen to find out which note they need to play next to complete the song. Blackwell included all types of genres, including the latest pop and hip-hop songs, so students would be excited to learn the notes.

“We believe that part of the reason why students aren’t performing is because they don’t see themselves in lessons,” Blackwell said. “So our approach of using songs that are familiar to them — that they hear on the radio and listen to at home — is a way to increase retention and engagement in learning.”

Blackwell recently received $50,000 from Google for Startups Black Founders Fund, which he said he’ll use for marketing and advertisements for the app. He just completed Cox Enterprise’s Social Impact Accelerator Powered By Techstars program this year to better his business model.

Blackwell has a national partnership with the Boys and Girls Club as well as local school district partnerships. The app can be used in either music or math classrooms, he said, but one of his biggest challenges has been integrating the technology into school curriculums.

“We’re talking about educational reform,” Blackwell said. “People that create curriculum don’t look like me in most cases, so it’s been tough sometimes to get people to give us a chance.”

Continue to Business Journals: AtlantaInno to read the full article. 

To Build Less-Biased AI, Hire a More-Diverse Team
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A group of diverse engineers huddled around a project

By Michael Li

We’ve seen no shortage of scandals when it comes to AI. In 2016, Microsoft Tay, an AI bot built to learn in real time from social media content turned into a misogynist, racist troll within 24 hours of launch. 

A ProPublica report claimed that an algorithm — built by a private contractor — was more likely to rate black parole candidates as higher risk. A landmark U.S. government study reported that more than 200 facial recognition algorithms — comprising a majority in the industry — had a harder time distinguishing non-white faces. The bias in our human-built AI likely owes something to the lack of diversity in the humans who built them. After all, if none of the researchers building facial recognition systems are people of color, ensuring that non-white faces are properly distinguished may be a far lower priority.

Sources of Discrimination in the AI and Technology Fields

Technology has a remarkably non-diverse workforce. A 2019 study found that under 5.7% of Google employees were Latinx, and 3.3% were Black. Similarly low rates exist across the tech industry. And those numbers are hardly better outside the tech industry, with Latinx and Black employees making up just 7% and 9%, respectively, of STEM workers in the general economy. (They comprise 18.5% and 13.4%, respectively, of the U.S. population.) Data science is a special standout — by one estimate, it underrepresents women, Hispanics, and Blacks more than any other role in the tech industry. It may come as no surprise that a 2019 study by the non-profit Female Founders Faster Forward (F4) found that 95% of surveyed candidates reported facing discrimination in the workplace. With such a biased workforce, how can we expect our AI to fare any better?

Sources of bias in hiring abound. Some of this comes from AI. Amazon famously had to scrap its AI recruiting bot when the company discovered it was biased against women. And it’s not just tech titans: LinkedIn’s 2018 Global Recruiting Trends survey found that 64% of employers use AI and data in recruiting, including top employers like Target, Hilton, Cisco, PepsiCo, and Ikea. But we cannot entirely blame AI —­ there is a much deeper and more systemic source of hiring bias. An established field of academic research suggests that human resume screening is inherently biased. Using innovative field experiments, university researchers have shown that resume screeners discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, and age. Discrimination is so prevalent that minorities often actively whiten resumes (and are subsequently more successful in the job market). Scanning resumes, whether by computer or human, is an archaic practice best relegated to the dustbin of history. At best, it measures a candidate’s ability to tactfully boast about their accomplishments and, at worse, provides all the right ingredients for either intentional or unintentional discrimination. So how are companies overcoming this challenge?

A Musical Interlude

An unlikely parallel exists in — of all places — the field of classical music. In the 1970s and 1980s, historically male-dominated orchestras began changing their procedures for hiring. Auditions were conducted blind — placing a screen between the candidate and their judging committee so that the identity of the auditioner could not be discerned — only their music was being judged. The effects of this change were astounding: Harvard researchers found that women were passing 1.6 times more in blind auditions than in non-blind ones, and the number of female players in the orchestras increased by 20 to 30 percentage points. By focusing on the candidate’s performance (rather than irrelevant discriminatory attributes) companies can increase both diversity and quality of their new hires. Here’s how.

Continue on to Harvard Business Review to read the full article.

This Year’s Most Educated Cities in America
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3D illustration of USA and North America from space at night with city lights showing human activity in United States

Cities want to attract highly educated workers to fuel their economic growth and tax revenues. Higher levels of education tend to lead to higher salaries.

Plus, the more that graduates earn, the more tax dollars they contribute over time, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In turn, educated people want to live somewhere where they will get a good return on their educational investment.

People also tend to marry others of the same educational level, which means that cities that already have a large educated population may be more attractive to people with degrees.

Not all highly educated people will flock to the same areas, though. Some may prefer to have many people with similar education levels around them for socializing and career connections. Others may want to be a big fish in a little pond. Not every city will provide the same quality of life to those with higher education, either. In addition, the most educated cities could shift in the near future depending on how well cities deal with the current COVID-19 crisis and its impact on schooling.

To determine where the most educated Americans are putting their degrees to work, WalletHub compared the 150 largest metropolitan statistical areas, or MSAs, across 11 key metrics. Our data set ranges from the share of adults aged 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher to the quality of the public-school system to the gender education gap.

Most Educated Cities in USA

1          Ann Arbor, MI

2          San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

3          Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

4          Durham-Chapel Hill, NC

5          San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

6          Madison, WI

7          Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

8          Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

9          Austin-Round Rock, TX

10        Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT

11        Colorado Springs, CO

12        Raleigh, NC

13        Provo-Orem, UT

14        Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO

15        Trenton, NJ

16        Portland-South Portland, ME

17        Tallahassee, FL

18        Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

19        Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

20        San Diego-Carlsbad, CA

21        Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY

22        Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD

23        Lansing-East Lansing, MI

24        Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT

25        Lexington-Fayette, KY

Source: wallethub.com

Couple Shares Passion for Careers in Medical Field Through Educating, Entertaining Young People
LinkedIn
LMS Keena's standing alonside four kindergarden students and another female teacher. Bith teachers wearing lab coats. Children holding completion certificates in hands.

It’s no wonder that Keena Duncan of Southhaven, Mississippi fell in love with the Little Medical School franchise concept. LMS is the leading developer of specialized curriculum and interactive resources for children ages 4-16. The program allows kids to explore the benefits of careers in healthcare while simultaneously get educated and entertained.

Duncan knows firsthand what a rewarding experience it can be. Duncan’s husband, Dr. Ulric Duncan, is a gastroenterologist in Southaven. Keena Duncan, who runs the Little Medical School franchise there was a teacher in the public-school system and the Practice Administrator in a specialty Gastroenterology Medical Clinic owned by the couple.

Both Duncan’s have a passion for medicine and a desire to help young people aspire to medical careers. After they attended a Little Medical School program, they realized it was the perfect vehicle to provide such an opportunity. Since September 2017, Little Medical School of the Mid-South has been providing its STEM-based curriculum (science, technology, engineering, math) through games, crafts and interactive demonstrations at schools, hospitals, daycare centers, birthday parties, summer camps and more throughout northern Mississippi and Memphis.

“Owning a medical clinic sparked an interest in teaching children the importance of knowing how their bodies work and how to access careers in healthcare,” said 58-year-old Keena, a Memphis resident. “I taught kindergarten in the public schools and homeschooled our three children. Now, Little Medical School allows me to continue to inspire and teach.”

LMS's Keena standing behind resource table  smiling
Keena Duncan of Southhaven, Mississippi at her resource table for Little Medical School

Little Medical School also offers a wide-ranging curriculum of virtual camps and classes. Franchise owners do not need a medical or teaching background. Little Medical School is a mobile business with low overhead that can be operated as a home-based business. The child-services and educational franchise industries combined represent an $11 billion segment that employs more than 285,000 people in more than 130,000 businesses.

About Little Medical School

Little Medical School (LMS) was created and founded by Dr. Mary Mason in 2010 and began franchising in 2015. LMS has evolved to meet the demand for high quality STEM based health awareness focused curriculum There are currently 41 franchises in the U.S. states and 16 International franchisees, along with five company owned locations.  Each Little Medical School franchise is independently owned and community focused. For information visit https://www.littlemedicalschool.com. For franchise information visit https://www.littlemedicalschool.com/franchise-opportunities.

Entrepreneur Makes History as Founder of One of the First Black Woman-Owned Online K-12 Virtual Schools
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Dana Delane Williams headshot
Meet Dana Delane-Williams, the owner and founder of American High School, an online virtual school for grades K-12 that has been leading the way in online education in the U.S. for over 18 years.
 

She has made history as one of the only African American women in the country to accomplish this and has committed herself to revolutionizing education to ensure that she gives kids the minimum credentials they need to succeed in life – their high school diploma. 

As the effects of the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic continues to rage on, almost all areas of everyday life have been changed. This truth has led to a paradigm shift in the way we work, interact, and educate students in the U.S. and worldwide. The traditional is now untraditional, with the old path, replaced by a new direction, our new norm.

How it all began

Dana began her foray into teaching classes online while she was an instructor at the University of Kentucky in 1996. It was in 2002 that she created her very first online high school for grades 9-12 with the 24 credits required to graduate, and catering to the homeschool market.

Dana has continued her efforts in creating new and innovative educational pathways since 2002. She has since expanded the school offerings to over 350 online courses to include an accredited online middle school for grades 6-8 and an online elementary school for grades K-5. She went on to create an online adult high school diploma program for those adults who needed to earn their high school diploma for work or college.

She even received NCAA approval, which allows student-athletes who plan to play sports in college on scholarship to attend her NCAA approved school. She continued to innovate and created a Dual Diploma program, in 2016, for her international partner schools/organization’s that allows students to earn a U.S. High School Diploma along with their home country diploma.

A great option for students and other institutions

American High School (AHS) is a comprehensive online/virtual learning school that delivers accredited, affordable, college preparatory, Honors/AP, Gifted, virtual reality, adult education, and career-based online education for Grades K-12 to students throughout the U.S. and Internationally.

Additionally, the school’s online/virtual platform allows public or private schools or organizations, the ability to create their own virtual schools or programs without a significant initial investment. It’s literally a virtual school in a box that can be deployed within 7-14 days.

AHS’s proprietary curriculum, learning management systems, and educational services are designed to facilitate individualized and personalized learning for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. AHS works with over 150 plus public or private schools throughout the United States and in over twenty-seven countries worldwide.

American High School offers the following in online education:

* Provides an excellent, well-rounded, proven online/virtual curriculum for Grades K-12.

* Fully accredited by leading agencies such as Cognia (formerly AdvancED and SACS). AdvancED is the unified organization of the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI). As well as accredited by AI (Accreditation International).

* Students earn a high school diploma online from an accredited school. The diploma is fully-recognized upon graduation.

* Individual Course Program allows students to make up credits within 6 – 8 weeks and graduate on time. Includes online credit recovery and online summer school for grades 6-8.

* A diverse student population participates in the AHS programs including athletes, gifted, homeschoolers, actors/actresses, Olympians, traditional, at-risk, remedial, and/or those experiencing problems in the traditional classroom.

Students can enroll online at AmericanHighSchool.org or by contacting an Enrollment Specialist at 866-936-9654.

About Dana Delane-Williams: Dana is a military brat who has traveled all throughout the United States until graduation from high school in Atlanta, Georgia. She graduated from Georgia State University with her Bachelor’s in Computer Information Systems, and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, with her Masters in Aviation Administration.

Dana serves as the Chief Academic Officer (CAO) at American High School. She is responsible for curriculum development, organizational growth strategy, maintaining organizational culture, managing operations, R&D, sales, product development and launch, marketing, and overseas expansion.

 
Continue on to PR.com to read the complete article.
Starting From a Company of One
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Brian Geisel headshot

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has named Brian Geisel, CEO of Geisel Software, the Massachusetts Small Business Person of the Year for 2020.

Geisel Software is a custom software development company that specializes in the medical device and robotics industries and whose clients include FLIR Systems, Medica, iRobot, the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Carbon Black and more.

After spending years as an industry consultant, Geisel started the company out of a loft in 2011. By 2015, Geisel had added his first full-time employee and a couple of interns. In 2017, the company moved to a space in the Higgins Armory and sales started to take off.

Today the company occupies a large office space in the Worcester Business Center and employs a large staff of permanent employees, contractors, freelancers and interns. Sales have grown at 83 percent CAGR since 2017.

“I am honored to be recognized by the SBA and I am profoundly grateful to Massachusetts’s incredible support programs that have helped with so many aspects of growing our business,” commented Geisel. “And while the award says Small Business Person of the Year, it really reflects the commitment, hard word and exceptional talents of everyone at Geisel Software so I’m really excited for my team.”

Diversity in STEAM Magazine asked Geisel a few questions about his own journey in business:

Diversity in STEAM: What is your educational background?

Brian Geisel: My educational background is pretty non-traditional. I picked up a few books in junior high on computer programming and taught myself from there. By the time I graduated high school, I was considering entering the professional world. I went to Rochester Institute of Technology for one year, skipped to senior level computer science courses and then took the early retirement package. I feel strong that education is really important, but it may or may not come through traditional channels.

DISM: Why did you start your own company?

Geisel: I knew that no matter what I did, it would only ever be the work of one person so I started the company to scale. With a team, you have this multiplication effect like compound interest that gives you an opportunity to have a real, tangible positive impact on the world.

DISM: What has been your biggest challenge as a business owner?

Geisel: We founders tend to start companies out of our superpower — something we’re really great at. For me, that was writing software. Suddenly, you find that you need to be really good at running and growing a business and your old superpower can even become a liability. That becomes a tremendous challenge on many levels.

DISM: What advice would your give others who want to start their own business?

Geisel: Never let low self-confidence be your guide in starting a business. There are plenty of great reasons to start a business and plenty not to, but self-esteem should never be one of them. Do you want to know a secret? None of us knew going in that this would work. That’s the nature of business. You learn to embrace it. So, if you want to start something, get out of your own way and get going!

Geisel has been featured as a thought leader in Entrepreneur Magazine, Bloomberg Business, The BBC, Forbes and other major outlets. Outside of the office, he is passionate about helping others. He’s participated in many mission trips to Guatemala, Thailand and other locations to hand out food and supplies and assist with medical care.

Brian Geisel, CEO of Geisel Software, is named Massachusetts Small Business Person of the Year for 2020

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has named Brian Geisel, CEO of Geisel Software, the Massachusetts Small Business Person of the Year for 2020. Geisel Software is a custom software development company that specializes in the medical device and robotics industries and whose clients include FLIR Systems, Medica, iRobot, the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Carbon Black and more.

After spending years as an industry consultant, Geisel started the company out of a loft in 2011. By 2015, Geisel had added his first full-time employee and a couple of interns. In 2017, the company moved to a space in the Higgins Armory and sales started to take off.

Today the company occupies a large office space in the Worcester Business Center and employs a large staff of permanent employees, contractors, freelancers and interns. Sales have grown at 83 percent CAGR since 2017.

“I am honored to be recognized by the SBA and I am profoundly grateful to Massachusetts’s incredible support programs that have helped with so many aspects of growing our business,” commented Geisel. “And while the award says Small Business Person of the Year, it really reflects the commitment, hard word and exceptional talents of everyone at Geisel Software so I’m really excited for my team.”

Diversity in STEAM Magazine asked Geisel a few questions about his own journey in business:

Diversity in STEAM: What is your educational background?

Brian Geisel: My educational background is pretty non-traditional. I picked up a few books in junior high on computer programming and taught myself from there. By the time I graduated high school, I was considering entering the professional world. I went to Rochester Institute of Technology for one year, skipped to senior level computer science courses and then took the early retirement package. I feel strong that education is really important, but it may or may not come through traditional channels.

DISM: Why did you start your own company?

Geisel: I knew that no matter what I did, it would only ever be the work of one person so I started the company to scale. With a team, you have this multiplication effect like compound interest that gives you an opportunity to have a real, tangible positive impact on the world.

DISM: What has been your biggest challenge as a business owner?

Geisel: We founders tend to start companies out of our superpower — something we’re really great at. For me, that was writing software. Suddenly, you find that you need to be really good at running and growing a business and your old superpower can even become a liability. That becomes a tremendous challenge on many levels.

DISM: What advice would your give others who want to start their own business?

Geisel: Never let low self-confidence be your guide in starting a business. There are plenty of great reasons to start a business and plenty not to, but self-esteem should never be one of them. Do you want to know a secret? None of us knew going in that this would work. That’s the nature of business. You learn to embrace it. So, if you want to start something, get out of your own way and get going!

Geisel has been featured as a thought leader in Entrepreneur Magazine, Bloomberg Business, The BBC, Forbes and other major outlets. Outside of the office, he is passionate about helping others. He’s participated in many mission trips to Guatemala, Thailand and other locations to hand out food and supplies and assist with medical care.

Each year, the SBA recognizes the achievements of outstanding small business owners and entrepreneurs across the United States. All winners are invited to attend ceremonies in Washington, D.C., in May where they will be honored with their award and the 2020 National Small Business Person of the Year will be announced.

Meet Southfield Primary’s Newest Teacher: A Ten-Year-Old
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Emmanuella Mayaki tech genuis seated in school chair smiling with arms folded

At Southfield Primary School in Coventry, England, a group of nine young students attend their school’s after school coding club where they learn basic coding, CSS, and HTML.

Like most other clubs, the students are taught by an after school teacher, but unlike other kids, their teacher is only ten years old.

Emmanuella Mayaki, a tech prodigy, has just been hired by Southfield Primary School as an after-school coding teacher to teach children of her same age about the world of coding.  When she was only seven years old, Emmanuella discovered her love for programming and coding, and by age nine, she had received a diploma in multiple software programming and was deemed a professional web designer and analyst.

Along with her newfound teaching career, Mayaki has also developed an app called “Academy App,” available on Google Play, designed to help smartphone users learn about the world of graphics and code. In an interview with Face 2 Face Africa, Mayaki stated that she is continuing to advance her programming skills and is even broadening her horizons through teaching her students.

Air Force Civilian Service

Air Force Civilian Service