The iGen iEverything Train is Coming, but Are You Ready?

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Technology is being consumed at an ever increasing rate causing executives, managers, and process improvement experts on the factory floor to re-define the methods of training and dissemination that have become obsolete.

Critical skills and tribal knowledge are being lost as boomers retire and training plans for new employees fall short of preparing workers for the sophistication of the new manufacturing environment.

Move over millennials, here comes the IGen! Born between 1995 and 2005 this group of tech savvy natives is the next cohort and are just now entering the workforce. IGen, or Gen Z as they are often referred, have grown up in a world of social media where Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter reign supreme. These kids are a force to be reckoned with and require access to information in ways that are familiar, immediate, and actionable. Our success depends on them because as the IGen goes, so goes the manufacturing industry, the nation, and the world.

Alliance Resource Group, in partnership with Sify Technologies has pulled together experts from manufacturing, academia and automated methodologies to develop a solution that addresses the manufacturing challenge of this next generation and identifies the key components of a successful framework including content management, dissemination methodology, scalability, and integration with current learning management systems. These components constitute a micro-learning strategy that facilitates current and future state requirements.

Alliance Resource Group (ARG), is a service disabled veteran owned business located in Newport Beach California. With a foundation in resource management, recruiting, and consulting,  ARG provides services to small and medium size companies throughout the United States.

View the ARG White Paper here! Better be prepared for total process transformation if you want to remain competitive.

MBEs: Get Certified Today

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diverse business group walking and talking

Why certify? Businesses that are certified as minority owned are subject to different laws and regulations than other businesses and as such are very different entities from typical enterprises. Unlike a standard business license or registration, a minority-owned business enterprise certification is not required to run a minority-owned business, although certification can provide many benefits for a company—especially in regards to government contracting.

Below are some of the certification processes your company can expect to navigate when seeking minority-owned business enterprise certification. Also listed are the requirements that must be met by businesses that are seeking certification.

  • Manufacturers – Maximum number of employees must not surpass 500 or 1500, depending on the product being manufactured.
  • Wholesalers – Maximum number of employees must not surpass 100 or 500, depending on the product being provided.
  • Service providers – Annual sales receipts must not be higher than $2.5 or $21.5 million, depending on the service being provided.
  • Retailers – Annual sales receipts must not be higher than $5.0 or $21.0 million, depending on the product being provided.
  • General and Heavy Construction businesses – Annual sales receipts must not exceed $13.5 or $17 million, depending on the type of construction the company is engaged in.
  • Special Trade Construction businesses – Annual receipts must not be higher than $7 million.
  • Agricultural businesses – Annual sales receipts must not be higher than $0.5 to $9.0 million, depending on the agricultural product being produced.

Business Requirements

1) The company applying for certification must have a racial minority owner who owns at least 51 percent of the company.

2) The same owner must hold the highest position in the company.

3) The company must pay a fee based on company annual gross sales and also file an application that details basic company information, such as what year the business was founded.

4) The company’s primary business locations must be available for site visits.

Getting Bids

Build Relationships. When it comes to winning bids in the government contracting marketplace, contacts are everything. Business owners are advised to take the time to make connections, build relationships and network extensively. The contacts a business develops are often the key to furthering their success in government contracting. Proactively networking with larger companies, agencies and even competitors can lead to subcontracting opportunities while also showing agencies that you are a trustworthy and reliable business partner.

Subcontract. Building a reputation as a professional enterprise is crucial to the success of any business. Winning a government bid isn’t only about the monetary aspects involved with a contract; other factors are evaluated, too. An agency will often look at company financials, work history and reputation before selecting a winning organization. It helps to have contacts who can vouch for your company and the work that you do. By subcontracting, you build your reputation and gain valuable experience.

You never know when the contacts you develop will come in handy. Therefore, you should make each and every relationship meaningful because in the long run, these are the relationships that will further your company’s success.

Government RFPs are a great way for minority-owned business enterprises (MBE) to win spot and term contracts. Every year, the U.S. federal government spends more than $200 billion on goods and services, all of which are provided by private companies and many of which are minority-owned businesses. From federal to state, local and special districts, all levels of government have programs in place to increase their involvement with certified minority-owned business enterprises. Only companies who have gone through the MBE certification process are eligible for the money that is made available through such programs.

Source: BidNet

Former Memphis Firefighter Launches New Career With America’s Top-Rated Home Inspection Company

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Former firefighter Byron Matthews in his Pillar to Post uniform

When Byron Matthews says he has a thorough understanding of building structure, he is not exaggerating. Recently, the 46-year-old Matthews became a franchise owner with the No. 1 home inspection company in North America, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®. Matthews serves clients throughout Shelby County and west Tennessee.

But prior to joining Pillar To Post Home Inspectors, Matthews spent 15 years as a firefighter and EMT for the city of Memphis. A Memphis resident, Matthews says his prior career gave him the perfect foundation for his new one. “Being a firefighter for 15 years and having an understanding of home structures, foundations and fire inspections make a great fit for being a home inspector,” Matthews said.

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the brand to which more than three million families have turned to for over 25 years to be their trusted advisor when buying or selling a home. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors has ranked on Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Franchise 500® for 23 years in a row, and the past 8 years they landed the top spot in their category.

A professional evaluation both inside and outside the home is at the core of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors’ service.

“I always wanted to be a business owner, so this was a great match for me,” Matthews said. “My goal is to expand my business and be a role model in my community.”

About Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®
Founded in 1994, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the largest home inspection company in North America with home offices in Toronto and Tampa. There are more than 600 franchises located in 49 states and nine Canadian provinces. The company has ranked in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise500® for 23 years in a row, the past 8 years as No.1 in Category. Long-term plans include adding 500 to 600 new franchisees over the next five years. For further information, please visit www.pillartopost.com. To inquire about a franchise, go to www.pillartopostfranchise.com.

Meet the 20-Year Old Entrepreneur Behind the Most Innovative Drone Technology

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David Opateyibo pictured in front of his drones on the floor

David Opateyibo is only 20-years old, but is already making international headlines for his ability to create and develop his very own drones.

Born and raised in Nigeria, as a young person, David was always passionate about technology and more specifically aircrafts. He started out creating airplanes from paper, cardboard, and other readily available materials. This led him to enroll in the International College of Aeronautics, Lagos Nigeria for aircraft building technology (ABT) in the year 2015.

He was so advanced that he was invited to also become an instructor while still studying.

In the year 2017, David was recognized for building a drone from scratch and presenting it to the State governor at that time.

Later, he obtained his remote pilot license (RPL) at the age of 19 in the United States of America under the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and became an active member of the Nigeria Unmanned Systems and Robotics Association (NUSA).

In 2018, after completing a 2 year diploma in Applied Aviation Science, he led a team of 5 students of the International College of Aeronautics in building an all metal 2 seat airplane: the Zenith CH 750 Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) at the Zenith Aircraft Building Company in Missouri.

A real entrepreneur.

Nowadays, David is works as a freelancer for various organizations to provide top notch drone services and products.

He believes that drone technology is where the future lies because drones are being used to carry out tasks that previously only manned aircrafts where known to do – ranging from military to civilian uses.

He comments, “We are in the era of data science, artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IOT), and with these, we cannot but fathom what the future will bring drones are not going anywhere any time soon.”

Continue on to Black Business to read the complete article.

Want a career in tech? Start here.

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group of diverse co-workers gathered around conference table with laptops

Technological advancements continue to transform the media industry, rapidly changing how media is created, distributed and consumed. This transformation requires new ways of thinking and doing. The Emma Bowen Foundation (EBF) is uniquely suited to provide a pipeline of talent to those companies at the forefront of digital innovation and connectivity.

For example, Njuguna Thande, a Princeton grad who majored in electrical engineering, took an internship at Discovery, Inc., learning software and hardware design at the media company. Here, Njuguna shares what he learned during his four summers immersed at Discovery.

EBF: You interned at Discovery for four summers. How did your role change over time there?

Njuguna Thande: Discovery was open to me shifting departments, so my role changed to fill in gaps in my general engineering knowledge. First, I worked in system design with media engineering for two years, then software design with the IT department, and finally hardware design with facilities engineering. My diverse roles gave me a fuller understanding of an industry-level engineering operation.

EBF: Tell us about a particular challenge or key takeaway.

headshot of Njuguna Thande
Njuguna Thande

NT: The biggest thing I took away from working at Discovery was a much more thorough understanding of engineering as a whole. It gave me a much better picture of how all these teams had some connection to what I was studying. One of the biggest moments was when the company completed the “Cloud Playout” project. This was a multi-year project that involved nearly every engineering team during its various phases. As an EBF intern, I was able to contribute to it from multiple angles through different teams. So, I felt a real sense of camaraderie when the company finally brought it to its conclusion.

EBF: How did EBF prepare you for a career in media?

NT: Joining EBF has been the best decision I’ve made. I wouldn’t have understood so many aspects of media and media technology if I hadn’t decided to become a fellow. Knowing I can lean on them has kept me on track and stopped me from losing focus when things got tough. I couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of EBF. Career-wise, EBF allowed me to take a deep dive into how a media company works. Working at Discovery year after year helped me nail down what I liked about engineering. It created a feedback loop that helped me chart out my path forward.

EBF: What advice do you have for students working toward a career in media?

NT: Your first internship isn’t your last internship. Your first job isn’t your last job. Don’t give up and try to get the most you can out of it. The work you do is meaningful, but it’s more important to understand the people that you work with and how they work with you. With support from more than 75 corporate and nonprofit partners, the Emma Bowen Foundation recruits promising students of color and places them in multi-year paid internships at some of the nation’s leading media and technology companies.

Learn more at emmabowenfoundation.com.

The No. 1 job of 2019 pays $140,000 — and its hiring growth has exploded 74%

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human hand touching robotic hand

Career and job site LinkedIn released its annual “Emerging Jobs” list, which identifies the roles that have seen the largest rate of hiring growth from 2015 through 2019. No. 1 on the list: Artificial Intelligence Specialist — typically an engineer, researcher or other specialty that focuses on machine learning and artificial intelligence, figuring out things like where it makes sense to implement AI or building AI systems. Hiring for this role has been tremendous, growing 74% annually in the past 4 years alone.

Hiring for this role has been tremendous, growing 74% annually in the past 4 years alone. “AI has infiltrated every industry, and right now the demand for people skilled in AI is outpacing the supply for it,” Guy Berger, the principal economist at LinkedIn, tells MarketWatch. “This is the third year in a row a role related to machine learning or artificial intelligence has topped the list, and we can only expect demand to increase.”

The pay is impressive too, with AI roles often commanding six figures. Jobs site Indeed notes that artificial intelligence engineers in San Francisco, for example, rake in $120,000 to upwards of $160,000. Sometimes AI roles can garner pay of $250,000 or more.

LinkedIn isn’t the only company to highlight an AI specialty role as a job to watch. Indeed’s annual list of the “25 best jobs of 2019” named machine learning engineer as No. 1, citing a 344% increase in job postings in the past few years and an annual base salaries of $146,000, among other perks.

So what’s behind this rapid growth in AI jobs? Berger says that “almost everyone” is hiring for these roles from the obvious (tech and automotive) to the more surprising (higher education and sports).

And these offer a real opportunity even for people who aren’t currently in AI: “We’re in an extremely tight labor market so companies are really looking to hire whoever can get the job done,” says Berger — who notes that learning skills like TensorFlow and Python, as well as diving into machine learning and natural language processing, could help you land the role. You can often take these kinds of classes as certificate programs from local universities, coding schools and more.

Rounding out the top 5 jobs on LinkedIn’s emerging jobs report are robotics engineers (40% annual hiring growth), data scientist (37%), full stack engineer (35%) and site reliability engineer (34%). “While many of these jobs are tech roles, they’re not necessarily in the tech industry. Every company has had to embrace tech at some level and we’re seeing that reflected in these high-growth jobs,” adds Berger.

But interestingly, there are also a number of client-facing roles that are experiencing rapid hiring growth, such as customer success specialist and sales development representative. Many roles like this “are heavily reliant on relationships, so being skilled in things like communication, problem-solving and collaboration are key,” Berger notes, adding that for these kinds of gigs companies “will rely on people skills that can’t be automated, successfully complementing new technologies.”

LinkedIn’s Top 10 Emerging Jobs
1. Artificial Intelligence Specialist
2. Robotics Engineer
3. Data Scientist
4. Full Stack Engineer
5. Site Reliability Engineer
6. Customer Success Specialist
7. Sales Development Representative
8. Data Engineer
9. Behavioral Health Technician
10. Cyber Security Specialist

Continue on to MarketWatch to read the complete article.

How Black Girls Code transformed from basement experiment to international movement

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Kimberly Bryant stands behind a podium wearing a shirt that read Phenomenal Woman

By Halley Bondy

Throughout her biotech engineering career, Kimberly Bryant was the only black female in the room most of the time. And as Bryant rose the ranks to become manager at companies like DuPont, Phillip Morris and Genentech, she yearned for a more inclusive world for her daughter Kai.

Kai had developed a knack for gaming and coding, which is a very male, white and Asian-dominated business.

“It happened that I stumbled into this issue of diversity of inclusion and tech,” said Bryant in an interview with Know Your Value. “My daughter was about to go to middle school and was interested in tech and video gaming and gaming in general…I found that there wasn’t a strong program that would focus on girls of color and getting them prepared in the skills they’d need to move into this career field.”

Women of color earn less than 10 percent of bachelor’s degrees in computing, according to the Kapor Center. And black women make up less than 0.5 percent of leadership roles in tech. Even in women-led small tech businesses, women of color only comprise 4 percent of the workforce.

With Kai’s help, Bryant called upon colleagues at Genentech to put together a six-week coding curriculum for girls of color in 2011. She conducted the first educational series in a basement of a college prep institution in San Francisco, which was loaned to Bryant for free. Bryant expected about six students, but the class attracted about a dozen girls, including of course, Kai.

Bryant’s small community effort attracted the attention of ThoughtWorks, a global tech consultancy company. ThoughtWorks invested in Bryant in January 2012 and gave her access to space and resources across the country, as well as in Johannesburg, South Africa. In a few years, the operation transformed from a basement experiment into a global non-profit with 15 chapters. They called themselves Black Girls Code.

The more mature chapters might boast up to 1,000 students a year, according to Bryant, who runs the organization full-time.

“I didn’t know it would be a nonprofit,” said Bryant. “This was us just trying to test the waters and make something locally where I could bring my daughter, so she could find a tribe of girls interested in the same thing, but it took off from humble beginnings.”

The Black Girls Code curriculum teaches everything from web development to robotics to Artificial Intelligence. Many of the first-year students are now in college, including Kai, who is in her sophomore year studying computer science.

Bryant wants to expand Black Girls Code into a life-long support network to help retention rates in tech.

“One of the things that I’m really excited about is building out this alumni network that we’ve grown over the last eight years,” said Bryant. “Many of the girls…are about to go to college, and they have a need for support as they continue their career and collegiate journeys.”

Bryant said she was never interested in coding — that was all her daughter. Instead, Bryant studied engineering at Vanderbilt University. She said she met only one other African American female engineering student in her four years there, and that none of her professors were even female, let alone black.

“I didn’t have any role models,” said Bryant.

Still, she excelled. Bryant was only 25 when she became a manager at DuPont in Tennessee. She said her manager there—whom she otherwise adored—jokingly introduced her to the team as a “twofer,” because she was black and a woman.

The Black Girls Code curriculum teaches everything from web development to robotics to Artificial IntelligenceCourtesy of Black Girls Code.

“I’m positive those men had never worked for a black woman as their manager,” she said. “It was a learning experience. I spent most of my career in these types of positions. There were always these implicit and explicit biases that I had to deal with as I tried to establish authority as a black woman.”

Continue on to NBC News read the complete article.

Da Lucky Spot: Meet the Charlotte Man Behind Walmart’s First Black-Owned Barbershop

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Entrepreneur Shaun Corbett cuts the ribbon on Da Lucky Spot, Walmart’s first Black-owned barbershop.

The philosopher Seneca said luck is where opportunity meets preparation. For Charlotte, North Carolina, barber Shaun “Lucky” Corbett, his golden opportunity paved the way for what would become Walmart‘s first Black-owned and operated barbershop.

On Sept. 26, Corbett was joined by dozens of community supporters eager to witness the moment he opened the doors of Da Lucky Spot Barbershop at the Walmart on Wilkinson Boulevard. The grand opening festivities were replete with balloons, laughter and plenty of smiles as folks gathered to celebrate the accomplished businessman.

Corbett, 40, has established himself as a leader in the local community over the last several years with his charitable give-back programs. As a licensed barber, he envisioned his shop as a space offering fellowship and suppport, especially for the neighborhood’s youth.

The road hasn’t always been smooth, however, and like most business owners, Corbett relied on his faith to get him through the rough spots.

“How I landed it was never giving up, seeing the vision [and] just working diligently,” he told Atlanta Black Star via phone. “Development is the main thing … understanding and being intentional about conversations I have when I have the opportunity to help.”

Corbett got his start in 2005 after enrolling in the No Grease barber school, the Charlotte Agenda reported. He spent his weekends cutting heads at the barber shop and served up slices at a local pizzeria to cover his hefty tuition — $10,000 to be exact.

By the next year, he was a full-time barber with his own chair. Corbett was eventually able to open his first Lucky Spot shop on North Tyrone Street in 2010.

The space quickly became more than just a barbershop. Corbett hosted a number of community programs, including his handing out of turkeys to families in need each Thanksgiving, after-school tutoring sessions for the kids and a backpack drive for students headed back to school in the fall. The local leader is perhaps best known for his acclaimed Cops & Barbers program, which aims to build trust between police and the communities they serve.

Continue on the Atlanta Black Star to read the complete article.

JAY-Z Is the First Hip-Hop Artist to Become a Billionaire: Inside His Fortune

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JAY-Z in blue suit and white collared suit on stage before performance

When JAY-Z rapped “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man” on Kanye West’s 2005 track “Diamonds From Sierra Leone,” he really meant it.

According to a new report released by Forbes on Monday, the rapper turned mogul has become the first hip-hop artist to amass a billion-dollar fortune with his impressive investments across liquor, art, real estate and companies like Uber.

Before becoming a musician, JAY-Z, 49, was a drug dealer in his hometown of Brooklyn. In 1996, he started his own label, Roc-A-Fella Records, to release his debut album, Reasonable Doubt. Since then, he has earned 14 No. 1 albums, 22 Grammy wins and a reported $500 million in pretax earnings, according to the outlet.

In order to calculate JAY-Z’s net worth, Forbes says they first looked at his stakes in companies like Armand de Brignac champagne (which he owns 100% of) and applied their customary discount to private firms. They then added up his income and subtracted “a healthy amount to account for a superstar lifestyle.” Additionally, they say they ran the numbers with a roster of outside experts to ensure that the estimates were “fair and conservative.”

Since its launch in 2006 in JAY-Z’s music video for “Show Me What You Got,” Armand de Brignac is estimated by Forbes to now be worth $310 million. JAY-Z’s cognac D’Ussé, which is a joint venture with Bacardi, is estimated to be worth $100 million.

JAY-Z is also estimated to have $220 million in cash and investments, including a stake in ride-share service Uber which is estimated to be worth $70 million itself.

JAY-Z’s music-streaming service Tidal — which launched in 2015 with a number of celebrity investors including his wife, Beyoncé, Kanye West and Calvin Harris — is estimated to be worth $100 million.

Continue on to Yahoo entertainment to read the complete article.

He Was Abandoned Near A Dumpster As A Baby. Now He’s The CEO Of A Company Valued Over $62 Million

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CEO Freddie Figgers is pictured wearing a dark blue suit and tie leaning against a wall in a confident pose

Freddie Figgers, 30, was abandoned near a dumpster at birth and was adopted when he was just two days old by two loving parents. He is now the CEO of a telecommunications company valued over $62 million.

Figgers got his first computer when he was 9-years old. It was broken when he received it, but he quickly figured out how to make it fully operational.

That was the start of his innovative future.

Later as a child, after learning that his Dad had Alzheimer’s, he invented a shoe for him that had a GPS tracker and a two-way communicator that he sold for millions.

He got his first job at the age of 12 as a computer technician, and by age 15, he had already started his own cloud computing services.

He kept developing and inventing, and before the age of 30, he had his own telecommunications company, Figgers Communications.

“He is now the founder and CEO of Figgers Wireless, a black owned telecommunications firm valued at over $62.3 million dollars, that you may have never heard of,” the caption of one of his YouTube videos read.

Now he’s creating devices that will help people with diabetes.

“Diabetes is a major public health problem that is approaching epidemic proportions globally,” Figgers wrote on Facebook in August. “The prevalence of diabetes is rising at an alarming rate. Nationwide, 1 in 12 adults has diabetes, and type 2 diabetes has become a commonplace childhood disease as well.

For far too long, large diabetic medical supply corporations has made billions of dollars profiting from this horrible disease by taking advantage of consumers with outrageous cost. We could have easily sold our invention to any Medical supply company, but that would only be adding to the problem.

We have a solution that’s all in one and it remotely manages diabetics 24/7. But best of all affordability for all patients. WE PUT PEOPLE OVER PROFIT.”

Continue on to Sunnyskyz.com to read the complete article.

The Best And Worst States For Entrepreneurs In 2020

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black man looking excitedly at his laptop

There might be an ongoing trade war and recession worries, but small businesses in the United States continue to flourish. According to a report by Guidant Financial, 78 percent of small businesses are reporting profits, with both confidence and happiness indices ranking among the highest in recent years. Approval rates for small business loan applications at big banks rose from 26.7 percent in Sept. 2018 to 27.9 percent in Sept. 2019, according to Biz2Credit.

Thus, the overall small business climate looks favorable for an enterprising entrepreneur. However, one fundamental factor that can change business climate is geography. Depending on the state — not to mention the city — where you want to start a business, these overall conducive conditions can change dramatically.

Seek Capital conducted a study of all 50 U.S. states to determine which ones were the best and which ones were the worst for entrepreneurs wanting to start and maintain a successful business. The study analyzed states in terms of 21 factors, ranging from socio-economic factors such as the five-year increase in working-age population, unemployment and labor force participation rates, to factors more specifically focused on entrepreneurial activity, such as the rate of new entrepreneurs, the opportunity share of new entrepreneurs (the percentage of entrepreneurs who said they started their business out of opportunity rather than necessity) and startup survival rates, sourced from the Kauffman Indicators of Entrepreneurship.

There are definitely some geographic patterns that emerged from the results of the study. The list of the top-10 best states are a combo of states located in the U.S. West and South regions, as designated by the Census Bureau. Midwest states are scattered across the middle of the rankings. And among the 10-worst states, the list of states includes those located in the South and the Northeast, the latter being the most unfavorable region in general for starting a business.

Here are the top-10 best states for starting a business:

  1. Utah
  2. Florida
  3. Texas
  4. Colorado
  5. California
  6. North Carolina
  7. Idaho
  8. Oklahoma
  9. Georgia
  10. Wyoming

Each of these states saw sizable injections of venture capital into new companies in 2018. California startups received the most money, with 2,869 companies getting $77.3 billion in venture capital funding, for an average of $26.9 million per company. No. 6 North Carolina was no slouch either, with $2.6 billion in venture capital funding going to 173 companies, for an average of $15.1 million per company. Not coincidentally, these 10 states had very active entrepreneurs. Florida has the highest rate of new entrepreneurs with 0.46 percent of its population starting businesses, followed by 0.45 percent in California and Wyoming.

The 10 Worst States for Entrepreneurs in 2020

The states that made up the worst states for entrepreneurs shared several traits. One of them mentioned is geographic: Six out of the 10 worst states are located in the Northeast — Pennsylvania (41st overall), New Hampshire (44th), Maine (47th), New Jersey (48th), Connecticut (49th) and Rhode Island (50th). The remainder of the 10 worst states are located in the South.

Declining working-age populations was shared by all of the 10 worst states with the exception of Arkansas. In absolute terms, Pennsylvania lost the most, suffering a decline of 148,126 working-age people from 2013 to 2018. In percentage terms, Louisiana and Maine lost the most, down 2.2 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively, over the last five years. Business taxes in these states are also mediocre to outright unfavorable

Here are the bottom-10 worst states to start a business, with No. 1 being the worst:

  1. Rhode Island
  2. Connecticut
  3. New Jersey
  4. Maine
  5. Alabama
  6. Maryland
  7. New Hampshire
  8. Arkansas
  9. Louisiana
  10. Pennsylvania

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

 

From Science Class to the Stock Exchange

LinkedIn
Stephon Henry-Rerrie headshot

By Gina Vitale | MIT News correspondent

Stephon Henry-Rerrie grew up in Brooklyn as the oldest of five siblings. He loved math puzzles from a young age and chose a premed track in his specialized high school. He never thought he’d study at MIT, but after being accepted to MIT’s Weekend Immersion in Science and Engineering (WISE), a program for high school seniors from underrepresented communities to learn about the MIT experience, he changed his mind.

Before visiting MIT, “I could never see myself here, because it was just this ivory-tower looking place,” he says. “Whereas when I was here, and I was talking with people, I was like, ‘Oh, wow I can hang.’ Maybe I do belong here.”

Henry-Rerrie, now a senior, has discovered many passions during his time at the Institute. He realized early on that he didn’t want to pursue medicine, and chose to major in chemical engineering. Then, after realizing how versatile physics could be, he picked that up as a second major. In four years, he has helped create particle simulations, worked on a trading floor, conducted research in the chemical engineering industry, and mentored younger MIT students. He would never have predicted ending up where he is now—but he wouldn’t trade it.

“I have a very weird, nonlinear trajectory that I’ve taken,” he says. “But along the way I’ve learned lots of things about myself and about the world.”

In the market for growth

When Henry-Rerrie accepted an internship at Morgan Stanley the summer after his first year, he had no idea that he’d be working on the trading floor. Some similarities to the movie Wall Street were uncanny, he says—he was surrounded by bond traders, and his mentor underwrote municipal bonds. He says the experience of working in finance fundamentally changed his life. Not only did he learn to speak up among many powerful voices, he also realized that science and engineering are directly tied into economics. Research doesn’t happen in a vacuum—when scientists make discoveries, that impacts the economy.

“I think I needed that exposure,” he says. “Because if I hadn’t, I feel like I wouldn’t have the perspective that I have now on, what does this all mean? What is going on? What’s this larger system that we exist in?”

He really enjoyed working within the financial sector. And, after meeting a number of former physicists (and chemical engineers) now working in financial roles at Morgan Stanley, he realized that studying physics rather than economics wouldn’t hurt his chances of getting a job in finance—so he took on a double major and was thrilled to study another area he’s always been fascinated by.

In his sophomore year, he worked in the lab of Assistant Professor James Swan, creating particle simulations with PhD student Zachary Sherman. The pair looked at how varying two different kinds of interactions between nanoparticles in solution affected those nanoparticles. Henry-Rerrie likens it to having a bunch of people (representing the particles) in a room where temperature and wind are controlled by two knobs. As you turn up the temperature knob, or the wind knob, or both knobs in varying amounts, the people will react.

“What will those people be feeling? What will they do? … I can turn those knobs and record, what did those people do at each specific value? And then after that, can we see a trend in how people will react?”

The following summer, Henry-Rerrie took an internship at chemical engineering company Praxair. The people there were great, he says, but as he considered his options for the future, he found his heart was with financial markets. The following summer, he took a job at investment management company BlackRock.

“I also found that finance touches everything, everybody’s life, in a very real way that you can’t get away from, at least now,” he says.

For him, BlackRock was the perfect compromise between chemical engineering and finance. As much of his role involved risk and quantitative analysis, he was able to practice many of the techniques he learned in engineering, as well as do real work in the finance sector.

“At my internship at BlackRock, I was able to apply everything that I learned,” he says. “Not necessarily the technical stuff, but the way of problem solving, of thinking.”

Chocolate City

When Henry-Rerrie was first visiting MIT, he was introduced to a living group called Chocolate City, in New House. The group consisted of black and Latino men supporting each other socially, academically, and professionally.

“When I saw that, that was the signal to me that MIT is just a special place,” he says.

He was accepted to live in Chocolate City his first year and has been there ever since. He has served in a variety of roles, including athletics chair, social chair, co-chair, and now resident peer mentor. He describes himself as the big brother of the house, working to get people to socialize and bond with each other. Living in the group has had its challenges, as its members come from diverse backgrounds and often have conflicting opinions. But that’s all part of the learning experience that makes it so valuable, he says.

“Being in that ecosystem has, I think, developed me into the person I am now, and helped me to feel like I can take on, I can take on anything after I graduate here.”

Henry-Rerrie loves being part of Chocolate City, and is grateful for how much it has developed him as a person. That’s why he’s chosen to give back to the other residents this year as the resident peer mentor, and why he plans to continue to help out as an alumnus. To him, Chocolate City is much more than a place to sleep and study.

“I feel like I’m home,” he says of being a part of the living group. “I don’t feel like I’m at a dorm; I feel like I’m home.”

Science in context

Henry-Rerrie is grateful for the context that his humanities, arts, and social sciences (HASS) classes have given him in his scientific pursuits. He recalls one class, STS.042 / 8.225 (Physics in the Twentieth Century), that introduced him to an entire world of physics history. He learned everything from the politics underlying physics to the fact that Erwin Schrödinger himself was skeptical of quantum theory—he only made the cat analogy to show how crazy it was.

“A lot of ways that we evaluate people and what they’ve done can be super muddled if we don’t understand the history of how things came about,” he says.

It’s that kind of learning, bridging concepts that he never assumed were related, that Henry-Rerrie really enjoys. The applications to engineering and broader society are what drew him to finance; his research and economic work at BlackRock was so fulfilling that he’s accepted an offer to return after graduation full time.

Longer term, Henry-Rerrie isn’t sure where exactly he’ll end up. He’s considering business school in his five-year plan and would love to end up back at MIT for that. His broader goal, at least right now, is to figure out where his skills can be put to the greatest use.

“I’m all about finding connections. Between, I guess, very weird things. Things that don’t seem that related,” he says.

Photo: Stephon Henry-Rerrie/JAKE BELCHER

Source: Reprinted with permission of MIT News (http://news.mit.edu/2019/student-stephon-henry-rerrie-0501)

Chef Big Shake Debuts New Online Store, Offers Deep-Fried Turkey for the Holidays

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Chef Big Shake in Chef's uniform smiling with arms folded

People line up at Big Shake’s Nashville Hot Chicken, excited to get the array of unique flavors being served up. Now, people across the country can simply log online and buy whatever they want, and it will arrive at their doorstep within two business days. With the launch of the online store, Chef Big Shake has made it possible for everyone to get in on the hot chicken, deep fried turkey and “famous” shrimp burger action.

This comes just in time for the holiday season, giving people the ability to order Chef Big Shake’s custom deep-fried turkey that they can serve up for their special meals with family and friends.

“There are many people who have been waiting for this store to go live, so it’s an exciting time,” explains Shawn Davis, otherwise known as Chef Big Shake, the creator of The Shrimp Burger and owner of Big Shake’s Hot Chicken & Fish. “The online store will let everyone get a taste of our food, whether for themselves or as a special gift for someone else. Some say you can’t find a better gift than my famous hot chicken.”

Chef Big Shake’s online store, located at ShopBigShakes.com, serves up a full menu of options to choose from, including his famous Nashville hot chicken, seasonings and peppers, shrimp burgers, and more. For those wanting to ensure their holiday meal is simple and a big hit this year, they may want to order Chef Big Shake’s deep-fried turkey, for only $89.99.

The deep-fried turkey offered through the online store serves 10-12 people and is shipped Monday-Wednesday. After it has been expertly deep-fried, it is then frozen to seal in the flavor, then packed in a reusable cooler with dry ice, and shipped anywhere in the country, arriving in two business days. Once the person receives it, they put it in the freezer, and then follow the simple instructions for heating it in the oven, so it’s ready for that special holiday gathering. Chef Big Shake’s deep-fried turkeys are crispy on the outside, and tender and juicy on the inside. They can also be ordered infused with their award winning Nashville Hot Chicken heat injections: such flavors as CryBaby® – Mild, Stop Drop n Roll® – Medium, Rambo – Hot. Or, classic flavors such as: honey butter, honey BBQ, Cajun butter, Jerk, lemon pepper, and classic seasoning.

“Whether you are someone who lives near a Big Shake’s or you wantDepp fried turkey being cooked someone who doesn’t to try the food, we want to make sure you have the best tasting turkey this holiday and ready to help,” added Davis. “But be careful, once you go Big Shake, you never go back! This food will keep you coming back time and again.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, and the day before Thanksgiving. Here are some safety tips for those who plan to deep-fry their turkey themselves for the holidays:

  • Never leave food cooking in the kitchen unattended, and don’t leave the house while the food is cooking.
  • Make sure that children stay away from food that is being cooked, so they don’t get burned.
  • Keep the outdoor deep fryers away from flammable sources, including garages and balconies. Also, check the weather to ensure that it will not rain or snow.
  • Be sure that the turkey is completely thawed, which will help eliminate flare-up risks.
  • Those using a propane-powered deep fryer will need to ensure there is a two-foot buffer between the burner and tank. Ideally, you should use a fryer that has temperature controls, so that the oil is not heated beyond its smoke point.
  • The fryer must be on a level surface before it can be used. If it’s not, there is a risk of it being tipped over, starting a fire.
  • Avoid overfilling the oil in the fryer, which can ignite if it comes into contact with the burger. Check with the manufacturer’s directions for the correct amount to use.
  • When it’s time to submerge the turkey, shut the burner off. You can turn it back on once the turkey is submerged in the oil.
  • Use protective gear, such as safety glasses and oven mitts when working with the fryer.
  • Once the turkey is done, remove the pot from the burner and place it in a safe, level place to cool overnight, before disposing.

Big Shake’s currently has three locations, in Franklin and Goodlettsville, Tennessee and Huntsville, Alabama with a fourth location opening soon in Huntsville, Alabama. Chef Big Shake became famous for his signature shrimp burgers, which were featured on the hit show “Shark Tank.” They have sold hundreds of thousands of them. The restaurant has also become famous for its hot chicken plates, chicken sandwiches, hot chicken and waffles, hot chicken tacos, and more. They also feature a variety of fish entrees, including whiting and catfish. Diners can choose their level of heat, ranging from “cry baby” to “executioner.”

To learn more about Chef Big Shake’s online store or to order a deep-fried turkey, visit the site at: https://shopbigshakes.com/. To learn more about Big Shake’s Hot Chicken & Fish, visit the site at: bigshakeshotchicken.com/.

About Big Shake’s Hot Chicken & Fish

““Chef Big Shake,” was named after and founded by Shawn Davis, a man who worked his way up from restaurant dishwasher to chef to entrepreneur. After being passed up on the reality business show “Shark Tank,” he received the funding he needed to take his business national. Today, his product line, which features five varieties of “The Original Shrimp Burger,” is available in over 2,500 stores, and he owns Big Shake’s Hot Chicken & Fish restaurants. To learn more about the restaurant chain, visit the site at: bigshakeshotchicken.com/.

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