Today we are talking with Lauren Sato. She’s the CEO of Ada Developers Academy. Lauren, can you just tell us a little bit more about who you are and what Ada Developers Academy is doing? Yeah, absolutely. Thanks so much for having us today. So Ada is a cost free nonprofit coding school for women and gender expansive adults. And then within that demographic, we focus on serving the black, Latines, Indigenous American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander and LGBTQIA plus communities. So we operate out of Seattle. We were founded here in 2013. So we’ve been running for the last nearly ten years now, producing a really high quality talent for the software development market. Okay. Now there’s people that we’re talking to in these interviews. We’re all talking about how difficult it is for companies to hire technical talent. The competition for that. Right. Talent is getting more and more fierce. It’s tougher for companies to find people salaries are going through the roof and aided Developers Academy is bringing a great solution that’s doing a lot of positive things out there. We need more people in this talent group, and you’re providing part of that. And a lot of people have companies are traditionally overlooking and we need to fix. So can you just speak to that and maybe how that brainstormed into the beginning of the Academy? Yeah, I’m definitely happy to talk about our origin story a bit more, but I think the thing that I’m most excited about is this really unique moment where we have this massive and growing talent gap in the industry. We simply cannot find enough people to fill these software development roles layer on top of that, this moment in which we’re thinking more deeply about diversifying the industry. And most companies now have an internal goal around diversifying their talent base. And on top of that, we have this COVID moment where so many women have left the workforce and they’ve left because they were in retail and hospitality jobs and jobs that didn’t provide their families with flexibility or the security or the benefits that they needed. And so we have this confluence of events right now, which makes it a really special time to be looking at this problem. And we feel really uniquely well positioned to be a key player in this moment. For sure, our founders had some foresight around some of these things. I think none of us saw most of this coming. But yeah, back in 2013, our founders saw that they were starting technology companies and weren’t able to find diverse talent, and they wanted to run their companies differently than they were seeing in the market because we know now there’s great data around the benefits of having diverse teams, particularly in software development. When you’re creating consumer products and 85% of your consumer decisions are being made by women and you don’t have those same folks represented at the development table. You’re missing out on opportunities to serve them well. So that was really what was at the forefront of the minds of our founders back in 2013. And we’ve only seen the data around that grow and the proof in the pudding of companies who are doing things differently, who are providing opportunities for folks who come from different backgrounds to really engage in developing products that meet our needs better. And just to be clear, you are not a twelve week University extension program. You are much more than that. If I recall, it was six months in classroom and then an internship program through. You can just dive into that a little bit just to provide a distinction for people watching this. Yeah. And I think that’s really important because many CTOs out there have what we’ve deemed a boot camp bias, because we know that actually it’s a pretty well founded bias to have because there’s such a wide variance in the quality of talent coming out of boot camps. And so it’s right to be skeptical about those pathways. But we shouldn’t throw that baby out with the bathwater because we know also that our computer science degree programs are simply not meeting the need. And if we’re trying to work with a four year production cycle for lack of a better word in generating talent, we’re never going to catch up to the need. So you’re right. Ada is a year long program. We’re six months in the classroom where our students learn full stack software development. That’s a really important differentiator. We focus on really applied learning. So our students are actively coding, working on projects from week one, and that’s another really big differentiator. They’re not doing a lot of the theoretical work that you’ll get in a CS degree program. They’re really focused on how to add value once they hit the ground in their internships with skills like pair programming, really strong ability to pick up new languages quickly because we know that’s a really critical, lifelong skill for software developers and specifically for Ada because we work with 30 to 50 companies at any given time, we’re never going to teach to all of those individual tech stacks. So our students come out really knowing how to pick up a new language quickly, which is incredibly valuable. After that first six months, they go into a five and a half month internship at one of our corporate partners again, where they’re actively deploying code from very early on. It’s a very hands on kind of experiential learning that has them graduating after a year ready to land a job. In fact, we have a graduation on Thursday, and I believe that 70% of our folks who are graduating on Thursday have already secured full time offers. Congrats to that class. I can’t talk enough about you mentioned the boot camp bias. Even that does exist. I absolutely agree with that. But still, there are a lot of companies out there that they’re having success hiring people from these. And just some of the anecdotes I hear, I wish they knew a little bit more the people coming out. And what better way to hey, let’s just up what we’re doing in terms of training them and the hands on experience and the exposure that you’re giving people. That’s incredible. That is a great way to lean in there. And just to add on the computer science degrees, the comment I often make is we are graduating computer science people, and the hundreds businesses are demanding them in the thousands. There’s a Delta there. There’s a gap. And this is a great way to fix that gap. You mentioned diversity. What can the companies do to just prioritize diversity from your point of view? Yeah. I mean, that’s another major challenge with our existing pipeline and CS degree programs. So I think right now in the industry, about 25% of software developers are women. And right now, coming out of CS degree programs every year, we’re at about 19% to 21% of those graduates are women. Only 4% are women of color. Just to layer on. So if you just do the math on that, we’re actively driving our representation percentage down. If we adjust, lean on our existing pathways, I have deep, deep hope that we’re able to shift that balance over time. But again, because that’s such a long production cycle and because if you know a thing or two about updating curriculum and approaches within University systems, it’s going to take a little bit for us to get there. So in the meantime, we do need to look to some of these shorter pathways, these shorter production cycles, in order to get the talent that we need. Again, within boot camps, the diversity and representation situation varies incredibly widely. So it does put the emphasis back on the CTOs to really evaluate the programs that they’re working with. Well, both for the level of talent coming out and the representation within those programs. And that’s a great deal of work, but it’s worth doing because really our products are so much more effective and really meet the needs of the consumer. So much better when we have diverse teams building them. Yeah. And to confirm some of the numbers, we have a database of close to 800,000 people, and we’ve been able to do some statistics on that. And it’s 800,000. It people, 22% of those are female. We’re talking about. There are 500,000 open it roles in the US right now. There’s a good way to solve that problem. So what’s Aida doom to change the face of technology? Right. In addition to generating talent, and we’re growing pretty rapidly right now. We got a really generous grant from Melinda French Gates and McKenzie Scott last year in order to grow our program so you’ll see us popping up across the country and Additionally growing our digital program that anybody can access anywhere across the country pretty quickly over the next few years. But in addition to that, we’ve also developed a program for our corporate partners to do some equity and policy training for their staff because the numbers going into the industry are pretty alarming. But even more so, the numbers of folks leaving the industry are incredibly alarming. So women, on average, are leaving the tech industry at about 51%, and that’s relative to 17% of their male colleagues. So we have a massive problem around retaining the talent that we’re bringing into the industry. That’s where Ada’s focused in this moment in terms of our own product development, is helping train companies to build inclusive and equitable environments that retain and grow the talent that we’re bringing into them. And that, I think, is one of the most important trends we need to see in order to truly change the face of tech and companies interested? Hey, I’d like to find out more. How can I hire someone that’s coming out of your program? This is something that’s available big companies, smaller companies. There’s a room to participate at many levels. Can you speak to that a little bit? Yeah, absolutely. So we work with companies from startup venture lab companies to the biggest tech companies in the world, and literally everything in between. We’ve got small to midsize, we’ve got growth stage companies. And companies engage with us in a number of different ways. The first is that because we’re a non profit program and because our program is free to our students, our corporate partners invest in those students education, so they pay in order to have an intern who many of them end up hiring upon graduation. And that’s our primary way of engaging with companies as a talent pipeline solution. We also engage with companies on the back end where we are allowing folks to post roles that they have for more senior positions that are Alum network, which now is nearly 600. Actually, after Thursday, we’ll be over 600 alums. These are women and gender diverse folks who have been in the industry for several years. Many are in management positions. We’ve got a couple of CTOs in our loan base now, which is really exciting. So we can engage with companies, whether they’re looking for junior talent coming through our core pipeline or more senior talent and management. Excellent. And speaking of 600, you’re looking to add to that even more. It sounds like you got some classes starting up and you’re expanding into some different cities. Can you speak to that a little bit? That’s right. So we have an application cycle opening in March. We admit a new class every six months. And we have in person programs now in Seattle and Atlanta. And as I mentioned earlier, our digital program is available to anybody across the country, and that is a pretty exciting piece of growth for us because we know that folks in Oklahoma city should have access to the tech industry just the same as somebody in the Bay area and they haven’t historically. So you can go through our whole program from the six months of education including the internship, you can do that all digitally from wherever you are at in the country now and hopefully that’s a pretty exciting opportunity for the many women that we know are still out of work. Companies are looking for good technical talent. Here’s a program that is producing a lot of people with good skills, intelligence, problem solving skills exactly what companies want. Seek out Ada Developers Academy and find some people from here and let’s get some more people into the program. This is an incredible solution to a problem that’s out there, multiple problems that are out there. Let’s fix this. Anything else that you need one to say of people that should come to you, people that need to know about Ada developers Academy I know you have a big audience of folks who are in the industry and so I would just say that one of the really critical pieces of what we do is supporting our students throughout their education. We have a community of about 300 volunteer mentors and tutors. If you’re interested in giving back and helping doing your part to contribute to diversifying this pipeline we would love to have you on board as a tutor or a mentor or a manager of one of our students. Okay. Well, thank you very much for your time today. We’ll try and get the word out and we’ll be in touch. Thank you. I appreciate it. Bye.