I Love My Job: Jumoke Dada on Creating the HUE Tech Summit
The technologist says her goal with the popular conference for women of color is to have “no more hidden figures.”
Jumoke Dada is determined to help women of color discover their professional destinies. It’s why she launched her consulting business Signature RED and created the online community Tech Women Network. Most recently, it’s why she created the HUE Tech Summit that is now in its second year. The conference gathers women of color in the tech industry across the region, to help them build connections, and most importantly, find jobs. “No More Hidden Figures” is Dada’s mantra, and she’s assembling more than 33 speakers on May 3rd during Philly Tech Week to prove that women of color have been doing the work all along. Here’s Dada on how she has built her expansive network and how she stays charged.
I grew up in… Brooklyn, New York.
My name is… Yoruba. Jumoke means, “Everyone loves God’s child.” Dada means, “Baby with curly hair.”
I decided to study Computer & Information Sciences at Temple because… Prior to making that decision I had always been more drawn to the arts — dance, music, drawing. And I started college at 16 because I skipped a year of school. But while I knew I was artsy, I struggled to figure out what to study. I ended up doing an internship at a magazine that helped me realize I didn’t want to go into that. So to choose a major I looked at the coursework that I had already been doing and realized that I was strong in STEM. My mom was a nurse and my dad was in microbiology. My whole family was in STEM, so that was the path I decided to go down.
The most rewarding part of my studies was…solving problems. I was forced to think logically and be detail oriented. I was constantly trying to fix something, which involved going back and tracing through code.
I launched Signature RED… when I was trying to move away from IT and decide whether I should stay in Philly or move back to New York. I always had that creative side that I never really tapped into. I also knew I had a knack for championing women. So I went totally left and said I am going to help women through marketing, educational workshops and events. I also realized that tech is where it is at, so I decided to pivot to women in the tech world.
As a technologist I… find creative ways to solve problems.
I have built my network by… I have two key networks. The first is, Tech Women Network, which is a growing online network. The second is my professional network, which I’ve built by being my authentic self. I’ve always naturally been a helper and giver. Over the years my authenticity has helped me maintain a lot of personal and professional relationships. The Tech Women Network started through my professional network.
Some of my best networking tips include… being strategic. Go to everything, but be intentional about it. Know where you are going, why, who to meet, and what you will say.Have an ask. Be be clear on that and be authentic. Also, don’t be the taker, the person who wants something from everyone but doesn’t offer anything in return.
Something most people might not know about me is… that I’m introverted. I write and engage online with a lot of expression. But in person I am mellow, reserved, and quiet. It trips up the people who observe me online.
I founded the Tech Women Network because… I realized there was a need to be able to find technical women specifically by their skills set.
Being a black woman in this field means… that I am in demand.
The HUE Tech Summit is… a conference designed to elevate women of color technologists and techpreneurs in the Delaware Valley and beyond. I go to a lot of conferences, but I haven’t seen a lot like this in this area. There’s a lot of talent here, especially with all of the universities. I would go to tech week and see the same four or five women of color. I’d tell myself that there has to be more. I also noticed that a lot of conferences cater to startups and founders but not to people in the corporate space or people who aren’t technical. The time for us to step out of the shadows is now. We like to say, “No more hidden figures,” because we have to show these girls us. We have to show them we are out here doing it.
The most challenging part about organizing the HUE Tech Summit is… all of the moving pieces. Before this I had only done small-scale events. But this summit has a lot more moving pieces like speakers, the venue, production, logistics, swag bags and more. I have to manage all of this. I am so thankful for the team of women we have working to put it together.
My goal for this year’s HUE Tech Summit is… for women to get jobs. The goal of last year’s conference was to identify the women in this space in the region. But the second time around we aren’t coming together to just share stories. Each year I want it to progress.
To relax I… travel a lot. Also, I am a movie buff, so I like relaxing and watching movies.
My signature hairstyle is… au naturale. It’s my afro, my natural hairstyle. I don’t go anywhere where I can’t wear my hair out. This is who I am. I am authentically me.
My typical daily schedule is… go, go, go. Outside of my morning prayer and spending time with my dog Kola, every day is different. I work out two to three times a week.
My favorite thing about Philadelphia is…the affordability and geographic location. How accessible it is to everything. It also doesn’t feel overcrowded. I like the proximity to NY and DC.
The best career advice I’ve ever received is… stop hiding.
In five years I see myself… doing work globally, in Africa, and having written two books. I also see myself doing more public speaking.