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“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin
To honor Black History Month, I wanted to learn more from some of our Black employees about what this month means to them. I also made it a point to ask them what advice they would give their younger self or young students. Why? Because in the tech industry and here in Silicon Valley, there is a huge lack of African Americans. NASA’s Katherine Johnson, a once “hidden figure”, taught us that adversity builds character and hard work wins every time. The industry needs these types of experiences and values for the next generation of tech workers, so in hearing these stories, they will understand their own impact and then pay it forward.
You will hear from KT Moore, Angie Hathorn, and Ade Bamidele. Their stories of dedication and perseverance will inspire you to never give up on your dreams. I’d like to thank these brave employees for sharing their stories. It’s inspiring to see how their unique backgrounds and passions have brought them to Cadence and made an impact on our innovation and culture.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
It’s all about remembering and honoring our heritage. This is a time for Americans to be intentional in their reflection on the heritage and contributions of African-Americans and our impact throughout the history of this country. However, for me it’s not just about one month out of the year; it’s something I observe 365 days a year.
It’s not for the purpose of bragging about accomplishments or achievements, but it’s more of a reminder that we are a society where everyone has contributed to the advancement of our American culture. Not just African-Americans, but Americans of all ethnic groups from multiple countries have played a big part of building and shaping the U.S. into what it is today.
From my family history, I can point to multiple instances where my ancestors have made significant contributions in American history. One area of pride in my personal history is related to the role my father played in breaking down the color barrier in the U.S. military in the late 1940s. He was one of the first African-Americans in the Army promoted to an officer’s rank. He ultimately retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1965 when I was four years old. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I could appreciate what he must have endured growing up during Jim Crow laws of the South: segregation, racism, and the civil rights era. Also, it wasn’t until I was much older that I learned that my grandfather served in the 9th and 10th Calvary as a Buffalo Soldier, paving the way for expansion in the West during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
What/who inspired you to get into EDA or tech?
As a child growing up in Akron, Ohio, my dream was to pursue a career in music. I studied multiple instruments including classical trumpet and piano. I worked hard and practiced incessantly. After several years, I had competed in many musical competitions, gaining many awards and accolades.
But it was my father, in the late 1970s, who first suggested that I pursue a career in technology. Even though he did not pursue a career in a technical field, he had the foresight to understand that the high-tech field was going to be a transformational market segment that would offer many more opportunities for me versus pursuing a career in music. I’m grateful he guided me in this direction.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I wish I had taken more interest in my family history as well as the history of African-Americans. By the time I started to realize what a rich history I came from and wanted to know more, most of the people in my family who knew the details had passed on. It is a regret I will always have—that in the arrogance of my youth, I did not take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and experience from those closest to me.
Black History Month to me is about validation and accountability. It allows me to learn about my ancestors and be proud of everything they did for me to grow as a Black person in America today. It gives accountability to those who think Black history didn’t have a big impact on American history.
How did you get into tech?
I started off as a receptionist for 15+ years here at Cadence. Greeting potential Cadence customers from major tech companies made me want to learn more about the tech industry and figure out how I could become involved and grow my career at Cadence. I was offered the wonderful opportunity to join the education services team in 2014. My current job is to help our customers get the most out of their investment in our technologies through a wide range of education offerings.
What advice would you give to young students?
There are several different options within tech. There’s coding, support, education services, marketing, and much more. Don’t be afraid to explore the tech industry, as there are many ways to make an impact.
Who’s your inspiration?
My faith and my family are definitely a source of inspiration for me. They keep me going and keep me motivated to try new and different things outside of my comfort zone. My manager, Chandany Barlow, also inspires me. She saw something in me and had faith in my abilities and encouraged me to grow in this industry and gave me the opportunity to take the current path that I am on.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
It’s about the importance of recognizing and sharing historical data points to date with the current and emerging generation of African-American youth and population. It’s a time to recognize the struggle for civil rights and the opportunity to learn, acquire, and transfer knowledge regardless of race or cultural background.
I have been interested in technology since I could remember. On my 10th birthday, I was given a choice to save for a bike or take computer DoS lessons. I choose the latter. I was fascinated by how computer systems worked. I enjoyed learning mathematics and hands-on aspects of engineering from an early age. When I had my first internship with Omron Electronics in Japan programming programmable logic controllers (PLCs) in late 1990s, I knew this was the career path I wanted to embark on. This path led to exciting roles that involved research and development of vision and AI algorithms to run on embedded devices ranging from mobile devices (Nokia Camera ISP) and drones (collision avoidance) to AR/VR and, most recently, optimizing artificial neural networks for applications running on Tensilica Vision DSPs and neural network accelerators.
Be focused, be inspired, be creative, and be determined. The notion “knowledge is power” was the motto of my school while growing up. I didn’t grasp the meaning then but do now. Education is so important, there are young and bright minds out there that need to understand there are opportunities within reach. I have four boys and I make them understand about diligence and focus. The same applies to the young minds out there, “Challenge yourselves and gain and share knowledge.” Most of all, believe in yourself.
My father for his keen tenacious nature to learn and challenge the status quo. He was a great athlete and a sportsman, he modeled what a great father should be with his drive for excellence. I am also inspired by James West, the famous inventor of the microphone and 47 other patents in computers and communication.