Uchechi Kalu is an award-nominated tech entrepreneur, author, user experience designer, speaker and poet. Her path from professional writer and published poet to tech entrepreneur started with a desire to shape the world through language. She is currently CEO of Linking Arts, a New Orleans based full-service web design and development agency focused on delivering great design and functionality. She is also the former CEO/Co-Founder of wedocracy.com, a social wedding planning website for tech savvy couples. She also hosts #YesWeCode chat, a bi weekly Sunday evening conversation about tech, inclusion and the future of innovation. In 2015, she was named as one of The Silicon Bayou 100, an annual list of the 100 most influential and active people in tech and entrepreneurship in Louisiana. She splits her time between New Orleans, LA and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She is the author of Flowers Blooming Against A Bruised Grey Sky, a collection of poetry published by Whit Press. She is currently working on her forthcoming book titled Resembling The Sea. www.uchechikalu.com
1. How To Create A Change Making Career: Focusing on Impact You Want To Make Instead of The Job You Want To Do
Uchechi’s lecture focuses on this question: How do you create a change making career that is emotionally and financially sustainable? She will share her story and her journey from professional poet and educator to tech entrepreneur and how trusting her journey and focusing on the impact she wanted to make allowed her to build the life she really wanted. Addressing the current state of the world, she will also discuss the connection between our differences and our talents. In trusting our differences, we are able to harness our talents. Participants will walk away with a more clear idea of how to move forward in their career paths.
2. How To Make The Tech Space More Inclusive: Why We Need To Stop Talking About Diversity & Start Talking About Representation
For years those of within (and without) the tech space have tried to answer this question: How do we make the tech space a more inclusive and diverse place? Uchechi’s talk starts with the premise that we first need to change our language, which will in turn change our perception. She explores why we need to stop using the word “diversity” and start looking to implement practices that will foster “representation”, which truly embodies and creates the inclusive environments we want to bring to technology. She also looks at how bringing a global perspective to inclusion stepping out of the US tech space and looking at global tech spaces can help us give insight as to how to truly start the process of making sure tech boardrooms, investor meetings, and entrepreneurs truly represent the society we live in.
3. The Value Of Nuance: How It Can Help Us Create A More Inclusive World In Divisive Times
As a Nigerian-born, globally traveled, US raised tech entrepreneur who spits her time between Mexico and the US, Uchechi has learned a thing or two about nuance and the role it can play in helping us navigate our current divisive world. She believes that part of the problem we face is about our society’s inability to bring “nuance” into the conversation about creating a more inclusive and divisive world. It becomes so easy to put people into certain contexts and demographics without insisting on the complexity of who they are and can be. She insists that embracing complexity is both vital for creating a better world and a more creative and empowered culture of entrepreneurs, creatives and innovators.
4. Diversifying The Tech Investor Pool In Communities of Color: Rethinking The Investor Demographic
A few years ago, my company volunteered for the Yes We Code Hackathon in New Orleans. At that time, there was a lot of conversation about how to bring more representation to the tech investor space. The event was held in conjunction with the Essence Music Festival, and at that moment it hit me. The problem with thinking about tech investment is that we’re so focused on how many communities of color have the funds to actually support marginalized entrepreneurs. In this talk, Uchechi looks at this question instead: What if minority communities leveraged the funding opportunities that do exist in unlikely places. She explores the African-American celebrities who are investing and how we can leverage what they are already doing.
5. Immigration & The Future Of Innovation
As a Nigerian immigrant raised in the US, Uchechi explores a topic that’s been on her mind since the current administrations’ immigration policy. Whether we are looking at DACA looking at the impacts of policy change with DACA or the Muslim Ban, Kalu explores the repercussions these changes might have on the future of innovation. The next doctor who might come up with a cure for AIDS might be a Syrian refugee whose family was diverted to Canada instead of the US. The next tech entrepreneur that might change the way we live, work, love, eat or connect with people might decide to go elsewhere. Is it possible, that for the first time in US History, we might be looking at a reverse brain drain: the best and the brightest in the US are leaving for other places.
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