Pariss Chandler speaks on her latest thoughts on black entrepreneurship.
Pariss Chandler is a dynamic force in the tech industry as the Founder and CEO of Black Tech Pipeline, an inclusive platform offering job opportunities, educational resources, and more for Black technologists.
“Pariss is an absolute powerhouse! Her unwavering dedication to forging enduring partnerships across various industries is unmatched. Pariss’ tireless advocacy for people seeking fulfilling careers in tech and uplifting organizations to foster equity and inclusion makes for an unrivaled spectacle of drive, passion, and sincere purpose… she values her work, means what she says, and genuinely wants to make an impact over profit for the communities she supports and serves,” says Ashley Armand, Deputy Director of Community Engagement at the MBT
Chandler is the creator of #BlackTechTwitter, a viral movement that mobilized a global community of Black tech professionals.
“I’ve been using Black Tech Pipeline as one of my primary recruiting channels for years, and I’m continually impressed with the results. Not only does the BTP job board help me reach a wider range of candidates than any other platform, but the guidance, consulting and follow-ups from Pariss and her team have been invaluable in helping me build an office culture where everyone is valued, included, and can bring their whole self to work. BTP has had a huge positive impact on my company’s recruiting success and our ability to retain the best employees over the long term,” offers Rob Howard, Founder & CEO of Howard Development & Consulting
Beyond her role as an entrepreneur, she is a recognized speaker on tech and diversity topics, contributing to various events. Her exemplary work earned her a spot on Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of the top 100 Women in Business in 2022, underlining her significant influence in the tech sphere.
Goldie Chan: Thank you for joining us at Forbes, Pariss, could you tell us about #BlackTechTwitter and where you think it is migrating to?
Pariss Chandler: #BlackTechTwitter is a hashtag, movement and community of Black technologists from all around the world. We mobilized on Twitter overnight back in December of 2018 through a viral tweet asking, “What does Black Twitter in Tech look like?” This tweet brought awareness to the amount of Black tech professionals across various fields and skill levels in the tech industry, thus helping debunk the “pipeline problem.” As a community that has formed and expanded over the past 5 years, not just on Twitter, but on all social media platforms, we’ve been able to connect online and in-person, form friendships and partnerships, support one another in multiple capacities, and even branch off into creating new communities and ventures.
#BlackTechTwitter has gotten large enough to where you’ll find members across various platforms who aren’t even aware of how the community formed, they just know it exists and have joined it. We began on Twitter and I believe that will always be the “HQ” of our community, but we are on so many platforms, including those I’m not even a member of.
Chan: What has your career path been?
Chandler: I was an Esthetician working as a Wax Specialist at European Wax Center for 3 years before breaking into tech. In 2017, I attended a coding bootcamp called Resilient Coders where I learned front-end web development. After graduating from that bootcamp, I got a summer internship at an advertising agency as a Software Engineer. Later that year, I got my first full-time job as a Software Engineer at a startup. During my time working as a Software Engineer at my internship and different companies, I was always the only Black person in the company and only woman on the tech team. Being the only one came with various experiences and a feeling of loneliness.
I created an account on Twitter in August of 2018 to talk about my journey in tech. I came across a few Black technologists through Twitter which gave me a feeling of relief. This made my experience at work and being in tech slightly better because I had somewhere to go, even if it was virtual, to be around others who looked like me and worked in the same industry.
In December, I ended up posting a tweet that was inspired out of curiosity of how many other Black technologists existed in the industry. I didn’t think the tweet would go anywhere, especially as someone who was new to Twitter and had barely any followers, but it ended up catching fire and changing my life completely. The #BlackTechTwitter community formed and multiple employers and media outlets took notice.
During and after the virality of my tweet, multiple employers Dm’d me on Twitter asking if I’d recruit candidates from the #BlackTechTwitter community into their companies. After doing this for free for 2 years and developing ways to better recruit and help companies retain Black tech talent and professionals, I was able to launch Black Tech Pipeline in 2020. I’ve been running Black Tech Pipeline full-time for the past *almost* 3 years now.
Chan: Who is someone that you are inspired by?
Chandler: I’m inspired by many women for multiple different reasons. They are friends, family and public figures. For the work that I’m specifically doing, I’d say I’m inspired by my mother. My mom has done DEI work her entire career. She’s worked for the government, public schools in our city, city programs and her own organizations that she’s formed. I always promised myself that I wouldn’t get into DEI work specifically because I saw how hard she worked and how stressful this field is, but I fell into it and find it hard not to talk about DEI even if I didn’t do it for work. I constantly go to my mother for her expertise, advice, experiences, and we get to vent to one another when work gets very tough. I respect my mom for how much work and sacrifice she puts into this work.
Chan: Describe your personal brand.
Chandler: I’m an advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion, in the tech industry with a specific focus on the advancement of Black technologists. I constantly speak about the vital importance of diversifying the tech landscape and share strategies for breaking into the industry. My expertise extends to advising on effective job application processes, interview preparation, and career progression strategies. Through sharing insights and resources, I try to help my incoming and current community members recognize, transition, and apply their existing skills and experiences to thrive in the tech sector. I’m committed not just to increasing representation, but also to empowering Black professionals to continually level up and redefine their success in the tech industry.
Chan: What would you like to build next?
Chandler: Before entering tech, I was an esthetician and I’ve been working to fuse my passion for tech and beauty together. I would like to eventually focus on launching my tech x beauty brand called Dark Mode Beauty, which is a tech themed beauty brand that is focused on making beauty products so multifunctional and accessible that you can simply carry and apply them with one hand.
Chan: What is a lesson you’d share with your younger self?
Chandler: Don’t overwhelm yourself by feeling guilty for things that you cannot change, especially that you can’t change alone. Instead, help to make change in a capacity that is healthiest for you. It’s okay to take breaks and prioritize happiness and positivity. It’s okay to choose when and how you want to go to battle. You don’t need to constantly lend your time and energy to every single problem that the world has. What and how everyone else decides to start and end their day does not have to define yours.
Chan: What projects or businesses are you working on now?
Chandler: We’re getting ready to launch an AI powered recruitment platform as part of Black Tech Pipeline. We used to offer traditional recruitment in the past where we would source candidates in our talent database for employers. Now, we are launching a recruitment platform that allows candidates to create talent profiles that employers can easily filter through and reach out to our job seekers.
Chan: Any career advice for this year?
Chandler: Go for what you want. I think it’s easy to go on social media and see all the cool, amazing things that people are doing and accomplishing and feeling that you’re not doing enough. I encourage you to take a step back and ask yourself what it is that you want for yourself. Do you want a lot of money? Then go after the opportunities that are going to get you the most money? Do you want to just stay afloat and chill? Then go after opportunities that aren’t going to be super demanding, but at least allow you to get your bills paid. Don’t look at what everyone else is doing in their career. Do what you want. This is your life.