December 17, 2020

Meet Tammarrian Rogers Snap’s Inclusion Engineering Director

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Tammarrian Rogers has had an accomplished 30-year career in tech. Her journey began after graduating from HBCU Tuskegee University and Stanford. She’s worked at General Motors, Apple, and Microsoft before joining Snap as their first Black ‘Inclusion Engineering Director’. We had the pleasure of talking to Tammarrian about her career journey, the power of curiosity, her role at Snap, and what advice she has for people of color in the industry.

This interview was condensed and edited for clarity.

How did you develop an interest in tech?

Initially, I wasn’t even very interested in tech. I wanted to be a construction worker and have my own T-shirt business. My mom said: ‘hell to the no’. When I reflect on it now, I think she was thinking about my safety and the sustainability of providing for myself. So I went back to the drawing board and decided to be an engineer [my father was a civil engineer]. This was where my curiosity about tech began.

Didn’t that curiosity land you a job at Microsoft?

Yes! During my interview at Microsoft, I was merely curious. I wasn’t expecting even to get hired because it was a practice interview. But by being curious and being unafraid to ask questions was how I got into tech!

With 30 years in the industry, can you talk about your experience as a Black woman in senior roles?

Being a Black woman in tech, I feel fortunate to have been in the industry for as long as I have. I don’t see as many women choosing to stay because it can be challenging to navigate. There have been times that I’ve found myself depressed, anxious, and feeling undervalued. I decided to look at what I can do to shift my environment [or pull myself out]. Those are the times that I’ve had to revisit my values. When I did this, I started to attract environments and experiences that were more aligned with my values. I was then in a better position to thrive.

What is the Black Girl Tech Summit?

Black Girl Tech Summit is an event created by Girls Talk London and this year Snap was a sponsor. It’s about creating a community for young women who are considering or entering tech. They created this forum to demystify the interviewing process and what it looks like to work at tech companies like Snap. It’s also a place for us to answer questions. I was able to share my story, share what was important to me, how I navigated my career, and also leave the audience with some words of wisdom. It was a wonderful group and space for all of us to come together, listen, and learn from one another.

Are there any other initiatives you’re involved with?

Black women in STEM is an organization I co-founded back in 2018. It was really about creating a community for Black women in science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing. We saw the need after attending a Black Women in Tech event. We wanted to broaden the group of women, specifically to include those in manufacturing! 

In your opinion, how can tech companies build more inclusive and equitable environments for employees?

They need to clearly articulate the company’s values that are in alignment with building an equitable workplace.  Those values need to be very descriptive of the specific behavior they expect to see. Next, they have to root the review and promotion processes in these values because that’s where people get feedback and it’s tied to reward and recognition. Finally, we have to be intentional in celebrating the folks who are exhibiting the behavior that is in alignment with company values.

Another powerful way to do this is to invest in leaders in the company who have a proven track record of embracing differences, who are not afraid of hiring people who are different, and who know how to elevate, promote and engage with different perspectives and do it repeatedly. These are the leaders who help the rest of the organization evolve.

What would you say to someone who is unclear about their path in tech?

One thing is to be very clear about your values and be specific about them. Be very clear about what brings you joy, what feeds your soul, and be very descriptive about it. When I was unclear about my path, I decided to create a blueprint of what I envisioned as my perfect day. After I did this exercise, I found myself attracting those experiences. This is what happened when I was leaving Microsoft, and I didn’t know what I was going to do. After being clear with my values, I suddenly had this offer from a company called Snap. I wasn’t even looking for the next gig, but a lot of what I had envisioned was manifesting.

Being very descriptive about what makes your heart sing is the ingredient for creating experiences where you are more likely to thrive rather than just surviving.

Any last words of advice?

Remain curious. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you find yourself stifled in curiosity, not asking those questions, not motivated to learn something new, then really ask yourself why. You may need to rethink how you’re looking at your environment. Curiosity has been the cornerstone of my success and how I’ve navigated my life throughout my career. Being clear of who you are, what’s important to you, and remaining curious will create an environment of surprising and amazing successes.

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Keisha Morant

A freelance writer with a passion for telling impactful tech stories online.

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