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Robin Snipes On Closing the Diversity Gap in STEM

Date: 13 May 2016


Robin Snipes,
Account Executive, Dropbox

1. What do you do and what is your background in STEM?

I’m an Account Executive at Dropbox. I don’t have a formal education in STEM, as I was a music major, but there is actually a high correlation between musicians and people who code. I started working at IBM in sales training after graduation. I worked there for a few years, then I moved to another software company, and then to Dropbox.

2. Why do you believe in supporting diverse STEM talent?

There’s a high correlation between success and diversity. You want to be able to have a broad reach, and you want to be able to speak to different audiences – having a diverse workforce will enable that. 

3. What is the biggest challenge in achieving STEM diversity?

Having an open mind and being able to think outside the box. Instead of just recruiting from the same schools, it would be nice if every year they diversified the schools that they reach out to and recruit from. 

4. What inclusive hiring strategies do you see as key for closing the STEM diversity gap?

Here, we have different months that celebrate different cultures. So if businesses were to focus on celebrating our differences, it would help those from underrepresented communities feel more included. Having mentors is also really important; if you have mentors in higher places they can act as your champion and help you come up with strategies on how to deal with issues that may arise in your job. Having an internal mentor can also help change the perceptions of others. You might be working really hard and it’s not being recognized, but if you have someone higher up who can fight for you, that’s really important.

5. What is your advice to diverse talent looking to join or progress within the STEM sector?

Attend various networking events. I’m invited to a technology company event almost every week. That’s something that everyone should look out for because they are breeding grounds for recruiting. It’s also important to be yourself. In tech, people really value your uniqueness. Finally, be comfortable doing something outside your job role. While I am in sales, that is not all that I do at Dropbox. I’ve helped with recruiting and I’ve conducted interviews – if I just stuck to sales, I wouldn’t have been able to thrive here as much as I have. Don’t be confined to your job description, be open to trying different things.