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June 5, 2019

Inspiring the Next Generation of STEM Leaders: Pam Dyson’s Conversation with Black Girls Code

At the end of April, the New York Fed hosted an economic education event for about 50 middle and high school students from Black Girls Code, a nonprofit organization that focuses on increasing the number of women of color in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math).

The students participated in a tour of the New York Fed’s museum and gold vault and a mentoring luncheon, where they met women in technology roles in business areas across the New York Fed. Then they had the opportunity to hear about STEM career paths from New York Fed EVP Pam Dyson, chief information officer and head of the Technology Group. In a moderated discussion, Dyson spoke about her career, the roles and responsibilities of the Federal Reserve System, and professional development tips for STEM career paths.

Dyson opened the conversation with an overview of her experience and career development, joking with the students about how when she first entered technology, “the ‘cloud’ was just something up in the sky.” She noted the importance of planning with respect to career management and professional development. “It’s not too early to have a plan,” she said. “Be bold and aggressive, but make sure your milestones are achievable.”

She also shared the best advice she received as a student: “Two things: the first is to be yourself. Bring your authentic self to your leadership role — you may have role models who you look up to and admire, but at the end of the day, you need to be your own self. The second is to lead by example. Never ask your team to do anything you wouldn’t do.”

Responding to a question about her leadership style, Dyson highlighted the importance of teamwork. “Collaboration is very important,” she said. “No individual can move an initiative forward alone.”

Dyson emphasized the importance of finding mentors and social groups to build a network of support and explained how mentors can come in many forms. “Ask yourself: who is impactful? As life changes, look for different types of mentors,” she said. “We can use a mentor for every stage of our lives. Include people who don’t look like you, because they’ll help you learn different skillsets and strategies for success.”

What advice did Dyson offer the students as they embark on careers in technology? “Don’t wait for someone else to tell you that you can do something. At some point you just have to jump in — at some point you just need to get in the game.

This article was originally published by the New York Fed on Medium.

The views expressed in this article are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the New York Fed or the Federal Reserve System.


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