The lack of diversity and inclusion in the tech industry has been a longstanding issue. While more and more companies are headed in the right direction, it is still difficult for a member of an underrepresented community in tech to look up to a role model whom they can identify with.
In a Forbes article, Senior Vice President of Marketing at MAX Digital, Kim Evenson, wrote about the importance of having diverse role models. She shared how having a woman CEO in her workplace was an empowering moment that opened her eyes to possibilities that previously never even crossed her mind.
“My belief at that moment in the specific possibility of being a female CEO just skyrocketed. I didn’t know my division head that well, but my brain started drawing a bunch of simple parallels that seemed convincing…It sounds superficial, but it was a visceral change that helped me envision new possibilities for myself and my peers in a way that was fresh and welcoming.”
Diversity is an issue that is close to Flockjay’s heart. For the past three years, the tech sales academy has been making continuous efforts to foster a learning space that is welcoming, safe, and supportive for everyone—regardless of social and ethnic backgrounds, genders, and sexual orientations.
What Diversity Means to Flockjay
Flockjay operates with a strong belief that diversity and inclusion should be weaved into every organization’s DNA. This is reflected in the makeup of its own student body, team members, and business partners.
Out of all its staff: 75 percent are Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC), 51 percent identify as female, two percent identify as non-binary, 48 percent are First Gen or Immigrant, and 20 percent identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“We believe diversity and equity matter everywhere, not just for ourselves but in the companies we work for, lead, and invest in,” Founder and CEO Shaan Hathiramani said.
The academy also works closely with a diverse group of investors and partners. Previously, it raised close to $3 million from women and BIPOC investors in the likes of Coatue, Serena Williams, Will Smith, Y Combinator, F7, and others.
In February this year, Flockjay had another exciting announcement: its $11 million Series A, led by e.ventures, and with participation from Lightspeed, Salesforce Ventures, Impact America, Cleo Capital, Gabrielle Union, and other lighthouses for economic and social justice.
Flockjay is also aiming at enabling over one million individuals with the proven skill sets but do not have a four-year degree, otherwise known as Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs), to translate learning into $20 billion in higher earnings by 2030. This is a common goal shared with Opportunity@Work, a nonprofit seeking to make career opportunities accessible to all Americans.
What Can I Gain From Learning With Flockjay?
Flockjay is offering an entryway into a career path that is highly rewarding yet often overlooked: tech sales. With its 10-week course, career changers and tech newcomers will learn the relevant skills they’d need to become knowledgeable, efficient, and proactive sales development representatives (SDR).
The idea, according to Mr. Hathiramani, came from his own experience and observation while working in Silicon Valley. “Even the best companies had difficulty hiring and retaining top sales talent with the necessary digital fluency.”
“There was no credential, no certification that told companies what made a good tech salesperson. No one teaches sales, no one knows how to hire for it, and there’s no correlation between where you went to school, or if you went at all, and how well you’ll do,” he added.
“Over 50 percent of roles in top tech companies are ‘non-technical and sales reps are often among the highest-paid employees in tech. That led me to a larger conclusion: You don’t have to learn code to build a future-proof career in tech. You don’t even need a college degree.”
To date, hundreds of Flockjay’s graduates have experienced an average salary increase of 250 percent. The academy aims to train and help 1,000 more people launch a tech sales career this year.
What Flockjay Graduates Love About the Program
To get a better glimpse into the learning environment at Flockjay, three graduates—from three different backgrounds—share their experiences below.
Nisheet Shah: “Flockjay offers more than just classes, it was a whole community, and that kept me going.”
Nisheet Shah is a first-generation American whose family is from the Gujarat state of India.
Growing up in a Gujarati household, Nisheet said entrepreneurship runs in the family. Naturally, when he was mulling over his career options, he wanted to pursue his dream of opening a restaurant—a dream that Nisheet shares with his wife.
Unfortunately, the restaurant had to close its doors when Covid hit, leaving Nisheet to look for other opportunities. To make ends meet, he turned to private ride-hailing services. However, that venture only lasted a few months due to the pandemic.
“It was February of last year. I was jobless. I didn’t know what to do so I started driving for Uber. I made decent money for about two months and then the pandemic forced them to go into shutdown mode.
“I was super scared, I didn’t know where my next paycheck was going to come from. Fortunately, my family was supportive and they loaned us enough money to survive while I figure out my next step,” he said.
That was when a family member recommended Flockjay to Nisheet, adding that his former experience in the hospitality sector aligns well with the scopes of a tech sales role.
“Being in customer service has been a majority of my career in one fashion or another. My last role before starting my own business was a manager at four hotels in the Bay Area. So, I jumped on a call with Flockjay. I told them I need to be in the program, I have skills that will all play into tech sales. Right before the first class started, they told me that I’m in,” he said.
How was his experience at Flockjay? To put it simply, “It was great”. Nisheet said he loved that Flockjay has curated a flexible retraining program that can be taken by anyone and everyone—even if they’re juggling a day job at the same time. He also said he has formed lifelong friendships with inspiring people that he met during his time at Flockjay.
“What was offered here was more than just a class, it was a whole entire community, and that’s what really kept me going. It was sort of a melting pot of people that I saw at Flockjay. One of my buddies was a real estate lawyer who has made millions of dollars in his career but at the end of the day, he was intrigued by tech sales,” he said.
After a month of completing Flockjay’s program, Nisheet was hired by Zoom to work in the business development department. He said he has never been happier.
“Flockjay made me feel welcomed. I think since day one they have been working towards a more inclusive environment. Honestly, I have nothing negative to say because Flockjay really changed my life. I was hitting the low bracket of five figures last year and now I’m at six figures—in just a short period of time.”
Tammy Bowen: “Flockjay taught me that I don’t have to apologize for being who I am.”
Tammy Bowen wears multiple hats: she is a mother, a caretaker, a Psychology major, and more importantly, a go-getter. The New York-born had some experience in web development but she wanted a career where she could incorporate the skills that she learned from her bachelor’s.
After some research, she found that a career in tech sales sounds promising so she decided to apply to Flockjay. As a mother, Flockjay’s schedule works well for her. She also raved about the amazing structure of the lessons.
“I love that the classes are just three hours every night for four nights a week. It’s a no-fluff training. It is a little intensive, on top of managing other responsibilities but the team, instructors, and fellow students were so supportive,” she said.
Tammy said more than technical training, Flockjay taught her important life lessons: to be unapologetic for who she is and recognize her worth as a valuable employee.
“There were things that I found relevant as a woman in the training. Our instructor brought up some statistics about how women are quieter in a workplace when the instruction is to raise their hands, which led men to speak up more. This stuff is real.
“Even with being a mother. Going into corporate, you feel like you have to apologize for being a mother and having responsibilities. Flockjay taught me to build up my self-esteem and reassured me that I am worthy to explore big roles in big companies,” she said.
She said it was evident to her as a student that Flockjay strives to create a learning environment that is more diverse, welcoming, and inclusive. “They brought in diverse groups of leaders who are already in the tech industry. The kind of people I could see myself in. It reminds you that you’re just as qualified to be there like everybody else.”
“At Flockjay, it’s a super big family made up of cool and nurturing people. It’s kind of corny but really, it’s an environment where we can lean on each other.”
Now, Tammy is happy at her new job at Seesaw Learning where she has taken on the role of an associate account executive.
“My company does portfolios for students. Interestingly, my son’s school had used their service a few years back so I’m familiar with the company. As soon as this opportunity came up, the alumni manager hit me up, said that I would be a good fit. I went for an interview and I got it.”
Hong Ho: “I enjoy working and talking to people from different backgrounds at Flockjay.”
Hong Ho is a big-picture person who enjoys leaving positive impacts on others. After several years of working in event management, she knew that it was time to take the next step toward her dream career: a customer success manager.
“Working in events was fun. I got to meet and network with people from all walks of life, which I really enjoyed. But I was working even on weekends. I wanted a career that would make me happy, allow me to make more impact, and be financially stable at the same time.
“I went on multiple interviews for customer success roles but I was turned down because I didn’t have any sales experience. I didn’t like this objection so I thought, let me go find that experience. I looked up how to get into sales and Flockjay popped up on my radar,” she said.
Hong said Flockjay stood out to her because of its mission statement: helping people from non-traditional and diverse backgrounds reskill and break into tech sales.
“I grew up in Oakland, which is a huge melting pot. As I grew up, I kind of lost that. When you go to work, you only see and become friends with people that you work with. I rarely see diversity at the workplace, we only had one black director. When I go to Flockjay, I get to relive those interactions that I enjoy. Talking to different people from different backgrounds and learning so much.”
She admitted that initially, she had to deal with impostor syndrome. She was starting to doubt her own capability and potential as an SDR until the work she put into the program started to yield positive results.
“It felt like a lot. I’m an introvert so the idea of talking to 40 people every day made me nervous. Then, we had a fireside chat and it was mentioned how most successful salespeople are introverts. When I finished my capstone project, I did really well and surprised myself. That’s how I slowly build confidence.”
Hong said as an Asian-American, it was difficult for her to relate to successful individuals holding top leadership positions. Now, as she inches closer to her dream job, her wish is to someday become the role model that she never had.
“I like helping people grow. That’s why I took up the TA role at Flockjay after my program. I struggled to find sales leaders that look like me, at least not on my LinkedIn feed. I want to go into management and I want to elevate those at the bottom who are trying to grow their careers. That, to me, is what good management is.”
Just earlier this month, Hong secured a job at Curriculum Associates as an Account Development Specialist. Hong only has one piece of advice for others who want to go down the same route: “Flockjay will help you build the structure for success but need to have grit. You’ll probably have pushback from yourself but that’s how you grow.”
Flockjay actively shares short interviews with students and graduates who are ready for new roles as a part of its Tech Fellow Spotlights initiative. According to the academy, this serves as an alert to potential hiring partners and also as a medium to showcase the varied diversity of its students. You can find these interviews under #FlockstarSpotlight on Flockjay’s website and social media. If you’re interested to learn more, you can also visit its Fellow Feature page.
Flockjay Identity Groups (FIGs)
At Flockjay, you’re a part of a larger family. To encourage healthy discourse and provide a supportive atmosphere for all students, Flockjay has come up with outlets for connection called Flockjay Identity Groups (FIGs). Students can build stronger connections and celebrate unique experiences in tech with peers with whom they share common grounds with. At the moment, there are FIGs for Womxn, LGBTQ+, Allies, Parents, Blacks, Faith-based, First-generation, Indian American, and Asian American flockmates.
Join the Flock and Unlock a New Career in Tech Sales
This is your sign to find your place in tech. Flockjay is building a more diverse tomorrow by opening the doors to a career in tech sales for everyone from all walks of life. For more details, visit Flockjay’s website to speak to the admissions team.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.