Culture at Braze

A Look Back at AfroTech 2023

By Ashley Baird and Caitlyn Grundy Nov 15, 2023

Braze participated in AfroTech in Austin, TX for the second consecutive year with the aim to build connections with Black tech professionals and source diverse talent for future roles at Braze. This year, our booth featured enhanced branding, drawing a considerable crowd of conference attendees. We provided resume reviews and engaged in meaningful conversations with numerous individuals, many of whom were actively seeking new career opportunities!

Let’s take a look at what two of our Braze participants had to say!

Left, from top to bottom: Stephanie Chang, Senior Sales Director, GSA, Ashley Baird, Lead Web DeveloperAshton Bray, Team Lead, Support Engagement Lead, Blair Pettit, Corporate Social Responsibility Sr. Lead, Danada Hart, Global Compensation Manager, Tiffany Parkes, Senior Strategic Customer Success Manager, Global Strategic, Caitlyn Grundy, Customer Success Manager II, Enterprise, Rachel Waitt, Sr. Operations, Social Impact. Right: Ashley Baird, Lead Web Developer.

From Ashley Baird, Lead Web Developer, Braze

Attending AfroTech was like stepping into a vibrant new world. With over 20k+ attendees, the atmosphere was electrifying, and I had the privilege of representing the unique culture of Braze while also contributing to our recruiting efforts.

The sense of community and representation at AfroTech is nothing short of invigorating. It serves as a powerful reminder that while we may be scattered in various pockets, there's a substantial number of us making waves in the tech industry. This realization brings life to the notion that success knows no boundaries.

One poignant encounter with a cab driver encapsulated the impact of representation. Living in Austin and originally from Africa, he expressed his excitement at seeing me in the cab. He shared how witnessing the success of Black professionals at AfroTech had instilled hope in him and his daughter. His daughter, initially doubtful about her prospects in America, was inspired to work harder after realizing the vast opportunities available to her. This story resonated with me, highlighting the profound ripple effect of representation on individuals and their aspirations.

Working the Braze table was equally fulfilling. Each conversation revealed a tapestry of unique experiences and skills among the attendees. The difficulty in ending conversations stemmed from the richness of each interaction. What stood out was the genuine interest in Braze Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Many attendees were eager to explore the human aspect of our company, and they were actively seeking to create similar safe spaces in their own workplaces.

One memorable moment was when a woman returned to our table, having left earlier, just to inquire about the learnings we had shared and how she could implement them in her company. It was a testament to the impact of sharing experiences and knowledge, fostering a sense of community and empowerment among Black professionals. AfroTech isn't just a conference—it is a catalyst for change, inspiring individuals to strive for success and build inclusive spaces in the tech world.

Left: Ashton Bray, Team Lead, Support Engagement Lead. Middle: Ashton Bray, Caitlyn Grundy, Customer Success Manager II, Enterprise, Blair Pettit, Corporate Social Responsibility Sr. Lead. Right: Tiffany Parkes, Senior Strategic Customer Success Manager, Global Strategic.

From Caitlyn Grundy, Customer Success Manager II, Enterprise, Braze

Have you ever wondered what a real-life Wakanda might resemble? The AfroTech Conference in Austin, Texas embodies just that vision. It's more than just another affinity conference; AfroTech brings together thousands of technologists, professionals, and entrepreneurs over several days, with attendees hailing from every corner of the globe. AfroTech provides a unique opportunity for attendees to leave with more than they initially came with—they cultivate valuable relationships, acquire knowledge, and establish connections that enrich their personal and professional lives.

AfroTech's programming covered a diverse array of topics in tech, including AI, Health, FinTech, and a captivating Women's Summit. This comprehensive lineup not only provided valuable insights from industry experts and thought leaders but also opened doors for participants to explore exciting new career opportunities while connecting with like-minded individuals.

Now, there would be no Wakanda without Vibranium—the rare and powerful fictional metal that fuels the nation's advanced technology and prosperity. Much like Vibranium, AfroTech's sponsors played a pivotal role in making this conference possible. I had the privilege of representing Braze among a distinguished group of over 150+ companies, including some that are Braze users today.

Whether I was on the bustling conference floor or navigating the streets of Austin, Texas, one question consistently dominated conversations: "What is Braze?" It was often followed by, "I've never heard of it before." While you may not recognize our name, you undoubtedly interact with Braze and the brand interactions we power on a daily basis. Braze goes beyond being just a customer engagement platform; it serves as your essential connection to the world.

Sharing the Braze narrative, articulating our core values, and shining a spotlight on the heart of our organization—our people—was a privilege. While interacting with each participant and engaging in every conversation, the overall experience became even more enriching. It made me proud to see the individuals we chatted with embracing our core value of "Take Your Seat at the Table" and sharing their unique talents and perspectives. Even when the discussion wasn't directly related to Braze, many participants expressed that they had never seen such diversity and places of belonging at a company before through our Employee Resource Groups.

Leaving AfroTech, I was filled with a sense of fulfillment and excitement for the future of tech. Whether it was through the new friends I made or the professional relationships I cultivated, I'm confident that our connections will extend beyond AfroTech. This could be through future collaborative ERG events or as we unite to shape the future of Braze as colleagues.

Whether you're a student aspiring to intern with us in the future, a seasoned professional seeking new opportunities, or simply someone eager to explore new horizons, we thoroughly enjoyed meeting you and look forward to continuing the conversation. Your perspectives, experiences, and unique talents are incredibly valuable. As I mentioned earlier, at Braze, we wholeheartedly believe in ensuring that every individual has a seat at the table, and we are committed to offering something meaningful for everyone. Until next year, AfroTech.

Ashley Baird and Caitlyn Grundy

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