Episode 318: Dee Tuck

Dee Tuck is an engineering manager at Abstract, and currently lives in Nashville, TN.

As an engineering manager at Abstract, Dee Tuck juggles a lot. But whether it's overseeing teams or recruiting and retaining talent, Dee makes sure that diversity and inclusion are a crucial element of her work from day to day. That's where we began our conversation, but wait...there's more!

Dee talked about her time attending the illustrious Tuskegee University, gave insight on where her strong sense of ambition stems from, and talked about the importance of bringing your whole self to work. According to Dee, the journey isn't always easy, but the payoff is definitely worth it!


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Revision Path is a Glitch Media Network podcast, and is produced by Maurice Cherry and edited by Brittani Brown.

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Transcript

Maurice Cherry: All right. So tell us who you are and what you do.

Dee Tuck: Hey, Dee Tuck. And I am an engineering manager at Abstract.

Maurice Cherry: So what does being an engineering manager entail at Abstract? Like, what's a normal day like for you?

Dee Tuck: Oh man, lots of meetings. Lots of meetings. Yeah, so I currently run two teams. I run the platform squad and and enterprise and admin squad. And so I participate in a lot of meetings with product and our stakeholders. I'm also responsible for running our agile methodologies, so such as all of our scrum meetings. So I also act as a scrum master as well. So I spend a lot of time in meetings and a lot of time in JIRA.

Maurice Cherry: Wow. And you've been in the role now for well like about a year or so? A little less than a year?

Dee Tuck: Yeah. So I started at Abstract January of this year, but I've been an engineering manager for about two years.

Maurice Cherry: Nice. What attracted you to the company?

Dee Tuck: So I came across Abstract during a time where my previous company decided to outsource their engineering department. And so I was just kind of looking and I came across Abstract on LinkedIn and I was just like, I read the job description for their engineering manager role and like right there at the top, it talked about diversity and inclusion and I was just like, wow, this is different. And so I just kind of dug into it and I really looked on LinkedIn and I really saw that there were like a lot of people on LinkedIn that looked like me. And so I was like, okay, this is is a little different. And so, yeah, I was able to kind of reach out to one of their recruiters and yeah, the rest is history there.

Maurice Cherry: Now you're running two squads, like you said. What's the biggest challenge with your role? I mean, that sounds like a lot, managing two teams.

Dee Tuck: Yeah. So definitely my calendar is booked. Right? I definitely say, time is a big challenge with me. Kind of having a lot of meetings, whether it's with my team, or with our product managers. It's definitely a task to balance both, but I think I'm doing a pretty good job at it.

Maurice Cherry: And so as the engineering manager, you're also hiring for both of these teams, I'm assuming. Is that right?

Dee Tuck: Yes.

Maurice Cherry: Now how is it when it comes to kind of recruiting and retaining talent? Because just like you said you looked on LinkedIn, you read D&I, you saw people that looked like you and that made you interested in it. How is, I guess, the process, and you don't have to go like too far in the weeds on this, but how is the process for recruiting and retaining talent for you?

Dee Tuck: We get a lot of applications and so I definitely have to like spend time screening candidates. But one of the things about Abstract and one of the things that I enjoy is that we are very intentional in recruiting diverse talent, whether it rather than be sponsoring Lesbians In Tech, Afro Tech or any of the other D&I based tech conferences, we're usually there. And so I usually try to jump on board with our recruiting team to kind of get out there and meet candidates face to face.

Dee Tuck: And so I think one of the things that I can say when you think about like D&I and tech and hiring and is that you have to be intentional about it. And so, a lot of times that means putting money out there to actually do it, like sending your employees to these different conferences to kind of get out there and mingle with people, so.

Maurice Cherry: And I should also mention just for transparency, for people that are listening, Abstract has sponsored Revision Path also, which thank you for that. But no, I think it's a good thing about being intentional. I would say this was maybe about four or so years ago, I was doing consulting when I had my studio and there will be a lot of companies, big name companies that are so afraid of even sort of dipping their toe into the whole diversity and inclusion topic for fear of getting it wrong or saying the wrong thing.

Maurice Cherry: I remember one client in particular, which I'm not going to name, but one client in particular, big media company was like, yeah, we really want to try to recruit more black creative talent, designers and developers. And I asked them if they had thought about just like going to like an HBCU job fair and it was like you could see people's minds exploding at the thought. Like, we never thought of that. Like yeah, like go where they are. Like, build the relationships and like you said, be intentional about it. That's sort of what it takes.

Dee Tuck: Yes. Yep, it does. And another thing too is a lot of companies will focus on hiring like senior engineers and I honestly think that there's a big conflict there, right? So, if you want to focus on like D&I and inclusive hiring, right? If you only focus on hiring those who have 10 years of experience, then like it's going to be hard. It's definitely going to be hard. So I think like definitely opening up the gates to be able to support those who are coming out of boot camps is definitely the way to go now for D&I.

Maurice Cherry: Yeah. There's this one company, I think it's ... Actually, I don't even remember what the name of the company was, but what I could tell is that it's clear they were just trying to find like black and brown versions of who their ideal employee would be. And oftentimes, that person may not exist because of a number of different circumstances, socioeconomic circumstances, education, etc., that they're just not going to be in that same pipeline or level of who you would really want.

Maurice Cherry: But if you're being intentional about diversity and you're able to kind of determine what are the base things you need, what are like nice to have sorts of things, I find that that probably makes the process a lot easier from a recruiting standpoint.

Dee Tuck: Yep.

Maurice Cherry: Now I would say part of that, you know, is the recruitment but also retaining. So, like how diverse ... I say diversity and inclusion are like two sides of the same coin. Like, it's one thing to bring diverse people in, but how do you keep them? Can you talk a little bit about sort of what the culture is like at Abstract?

Dee Tuck: Yeah. So I definitely agree with you. You were saying like there's, kind of like two sides to that coin, right? I once read diversity is inviting people to the party. Inclusive is playing music that they can dance to. Right?

Dee Tuck: One thing at Abstract I can definitely say is that like there are events that support different backgrounds. One of the things that we just did recently in the San Francisco office is that we had a Latin in Tech tech event. And so, really just making sure that like everyone feels included. One of the things that I thought was like super cool when I got to Abstract is that we have a People of Color Slack channel. Right. And that was like culture shock for me, right? I'm usually the only one at my company. I'm usually the first black or first LGBT. I've always been the first, because I've moved around the South in tech and so it's just definitely just stuff like that to just like be like, okay, here's a space for you to connect with your people. And like I said, Abstract is very intentional in supporting different backgrounds and groups of people.

Maurice Cherry: Nice. Now let's switch gears because you're talking about the South here. You're located in Nashville, is that where you grew up?

Dee Tuck: No. So, I'm originally from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Maurice Cherry: Okay.

Dee Tuck: Yep. So I'm born and born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I left Cincinnati at 18 and went to Tuskegee to study computer science. And so after graduating from Tuskegee, I actually stayed in Alabama for about four years and just moved around missile defense companies there. So, yeah, then I eventually found my way to Nashville.

Maurice Cherry: Was I guess tech and that sort of stuff, a big part of your childhood growing up? Like, were you exposed to it early?

Dee Tuck: I would say yes and no. Right. So one would be ... One of the things that really made me fond of computers is that like my uncle, he used to work at Pioneer. The audio company.

Maurice Cherry: Yeah.

Dee Tuck: And so he was just kind of like a super cool guy. He always had a nice car. He was the first person that I knew that ever flew out the country. He used to go to Japan all the time. And so he was also the first person who had a personal computer.

Dee Tuck: And on my weekends I would like spend my time upstairs and I mean, he bought a two story house from our grandmother. He moved upstairs and she moved downstairs.

Dee Tuck: And so I would spend weekends at my grandma's and yeah, I would spend hours upon hours just sitting at his computer. I mean, I was in there like changing all the settings. I mean, I don't know what I was doing on his computer. It had like Windows 95 on it. But I mean I was just doing everything. I would stay there for hours upon hours.

Dee Tuck: And then one day I came downstairs and my grandpa was sitting on the couch and he was just like, "You know, what are you doing upstairs?" Like, "What are you doing up there?" And I was like, you know, "I'm on the computer." And he was just like, "You've been up there for like nine hours, 10 hours."

Dee Tuck: He's an older guy. He's just kind of like, what are you doing? I was like, look, I'm just on the computer, I have fun. And he was like, you know what, when I retire, I'm going to buy you a computer. And so I was like, cool. And I never said anything about it, but as soon as he retired, he called me and was just like, "Hey, I want to take you to Circuit City and buy you a computer."

Dee Tuck: And like at that moment I was like, ecstatic. And so I think the engineer was born in me at that point. I became like the family tech specialist. I was going around fixing people's computers and printers. That's kind of how it started.

Dee Tuck: And also too like the schools that I went to, they exposed us to tech through NSBE, National Society of Black Engineers. And then there were some other programs that I stayed in contact with. But even when I got to college, I'll be honest, like I thought I was going to ... When I signed up for computer science, like I thought I was going to be like fixing computers, installing Word, like I didn't know anything about coding though. Like that thing, like I didn't have any experience in my childhood where I was actually like developing things. And so yeah, when I got to college it was definitely a whole new ball game.

Dee Tuck: So yeah, I just remember my first day at Tuskegee in my Computer Science 101 and our professor like pulled up the terminal and started like typing some C++. And I was like, what is this? Like, you know, I was like super confused and I'm like, I don't know if I signed up for the right thing. It took some getting used to, but I made it.

Maurice Cherry: Why did you decide to go to Tuskegee?

Dee Tuck: Yeah, so I go back to this uncle again. You know, he definitely saw something in me. And so I just remember one day he called me and was just like, "Hey, I'm going to give you this phone number to this church and they're doing a black college tour and I want you to figure out all the information and how much it costs and let me know if you want to go."

Dee Tuck: And I was like, okay. And you know, now that I'm older, I knew what he was doing of like, if you're serious then you'll call and you'll come back and report information. If you don't call, then I'm not going to waste my money because you're not serious about it.

Dee Tuck: So now that I'm older, I understood his tactic, but you know, I called and you know, I got him the information. I remember the lady telling me on the phone and she was like, it's like $575 and I'm just thinking like, that's a lot of money. I'm in fifth grade at the time, so I'm like, okay.

Dee Tuck: Well, I called him back, and I was like, so it's like $500 bucks. And he was just like, all right, how do I pay? And I was like, okay. So he actually paid, sent me on a black college tour. And honestly, it changed my life, my whole perspective on after high school and like what I was going to do in like college, like college became real at that time. But I went to Tuskegee and honestly, it felt like A Different World. Like, it did. I'm talking about the Cosby Show.

Maurice Cherry: Yeah, I know what you're talking about. Yeah.

Dee Tuck: Yeah, yeah. And so-

Dee Tuck: ... Cosby Show.

Maurice Cherry: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know what you're talking about, yeah.

Dee Tuck: Yeah, yeah. And so, honestly, I got there and I was just like, "This feels like home." I was able to learn a lot about the history about Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver. And so, these names that I had heard and I was able to really just like, little old me from Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm able to just really be immersed in this history. It was definitely just exciting. And so out of all the colleges that I went to, Tuskegee just felt like home. It felt like home and yeah. Yeah.

Maurice Cherry: Nice. I've been to Tuskegee before. As folks know from listening to the show, I'm from Selma, so I've been to Tuskegee. I've been to Alabama State, Alabama A&M, Stillman, like you name a black college in Alabama, I've most likely been to it.

Maurice Cherry: I think actually when I was in high school, I think we marched there. I was in marching band. I think we marched through Tuskegee or something at one point. Tuskegee was like on my short list of schools to go to as well because I wanted to get out of Alabama so bad and I was getting scholarships and things and I was like, yeah, I'm going to go to Stanford. I'm going to go to Harvard. My mom was like, nope, you are not going that far. I'm not getting on a plane and visiting you out in California or wherever, you need to go somewhere close.

Maurice Cherry: And I went, it wasn't a black college tour, but it was sort of like, well, in a way it was a tour because they took us to the Atlanta University Center here in Atlanta where there's like five or six black colleges in one huge campus.

Maurice Cherry: So Morehouse, Spelman, Clark Atlanta, Morris Brown at the time, the Morehouse School of Medicine and the Interdenominational Theological Center, like all in one big huge campus here. They are distinct schools but they share like the same proximity. You could easily walk between and through all the campuses and stuff.

Maurice Cherry: And it's funny you mention A Different World because of course, as folks know, A Different World is based off of like Morehouse and Spelman. I was also a big fan of School Days, so I remember we took the tour and there's like a little walkway that cuts between the big lawns of Morehouse and Clark Atlanta. Wait, have you seen School Days?

Dee Tuck: Yeah, yeah, I've seen School Days. Yeah.

Maurice Cherry: Okay. So you know the opening in School Days where they show the big like, I guess it's like the administration building. So that's on Clark's campus. And then at the end of the movie when they're ringing the bell? That's on Morehouse's campus. So that bell is right outside of Sale Hall. And I remember walking that walkway and like looking in one direction and seeing the administration building, looking in the other direction and saw the bell. And I was like, oh I'm going here. I'm going here.

Maurice Cherry: And like it was right at the time where it was right after the Olympics, it was post-Freaknik but Atlanta was still like popping. This was like, '98, '99. Something like that. So Atlanta still had that like pop and I mean Atlanta always has that popping energy. But back then, woo, a totally different story.

Maurice Cherry: I was like, I'm going here. This is where I'm going. And also Morehouse gave me a good scholarship. So I was like, I'll do it. I'll go. What was your time like at Tuskegee?

Dee Tuck: Oh man, Tuskegee was great. Anybody who's graduated from Tuskegee, we refer to Tuskegee as Mother Tuskegee. Right?

Dee Tuck: It's almost one of those experiences that like even when you try to explain it it to people, only people who have gone to Tuskegee truly understand what you mean. But yeah, like, I mean, Tuskegee was just amazing. There was professors that were like super supportive.

Dee Tuck: One thing about going to like an HBCU is that like those professors are there because they want to see black people succeed, like hands down. They're there for that reason and it's one of those things that you definitely feel in classes, office after hours, you definitely feel a sense of like, hey, this person wants me to win and so I can just definitely just say that had a lot of support.

Dee Tuck: I mean it's challenging at times. During the time, I mean I graduated high school in 2003 so I went to Tuskegee in 2003 and so thinking about you know, technology, you know, we were still like getting courses online and things of that nature. There was some challenges there, but it definitely made me a different person, made me grow up, made me learn how to survive.

Dee Tuck: I feel like Tuskegee taught me like I could live I can do anything. I can live anywhere and do anything. I mean, Tuskegee was just just amazing. And then honestly the computer science department hands down like one of the best computer science departments and I say that not that I've experienced like coursework at other colleges, but just knowing like the emphasis of really exploring different languages as a developer.

Dee Tuck: They also have a lot of connections. During this time when I was there was a lot of connections with some of like the big, big name missile defense companies such as like [inaudible 00:05:41]. And Microsoft, as well.

Dee Tuck: So all those big name companies would come to the school. There was a lot of alumni that went there and so they would come back and talk to us. And so I felt like that was definitely valuable. Because like I'm sitting, I'm having a conversation with someone who like works for like the FBI. Right. And he this person graduated from Tuskegee so he understands like what we're going through. All the professors were there when he was there, so I was able to kind of like create bonds with like alumni that would like definitely come back and give students like, nuggets. So yeah, it was cool.

Maurice Cherry: You know, HBCUs sometimes don't get the best reputation in the world, I think particularly when it comes down to like technical disciplines, like getting a technical education there. But it sounds like Tuskegee really kind of prepared you for the working world, like once you graduated.

Dee Tuck: Yeah. Yeah, it did. Definitely. I took my first role in missile defense at Lockheed Martin and so honestly, I was there for like three years and I continuously said college was a lot harder than the things I was working on. So like, you know, it was definitely a challenging program and so it made navigating the industry a lot easier.

Maurice Cherry: Yeah. So you were able kind of right after you graduated, you were really able to like start your career right away in what you were studying.

Dee Tuck: Yep, yep. I was. I started as a software engineer in missile defense. So yeah. I was working on some pretty cool stuff. I worked on the space systems team, so I worked a lot with radar sensors and missiles. So, it was cool.

Maurice Cherry: Nice. Nice. Yeah. And so, now you're at Abstract. You're working remotely. You mentioned before we started recording that you're in Nashville right now. I mean, as much as you can talk about, is there a Nashville tech scene? Because I feel like a lot of tech coverage in the South tends to get ignored or like tech news or even tech communities in the South get ignored. Like people look I think as far west as Texas, they look as far north as DC and then they may be talk about Miami. Atlanta will come up every now and then, but you never really hear about tech stuff going on in Tennessee or Mississippi or Arkansas or Alabama or anything like that. As much as I guess you can talk about, like does it feel like Nashville kind of has a tech scene of some sort?

Dee Tuck: It's definitely growing. So I don't know if you've heard, but like an Amazon is bringing their headquarters here.

Maurice Cherry: Oh, okay.

Dee Tuck: Yeah. It's definitely on the come up. Yeah, it's definitely on the come up. But honestly, I've been here about six years and I've always had opportunities. So there's definitely opportunities here. It's just a matter of what you're looking for.

Dee Tuck: There's a lack of diversity here in Nashville, when it comes to tech, to be honest. So, it won't be uncommon for you to be the only minority on the team. That's kind of been my story since I've been here. So.

Maurice Cherry: Yeah, I find that, I don't know, it's sort of that way in Atlanta. In a way, it's like that. I mean, certainly there are firms here where you'll go and you won't be the only one. But I know even if I go to events or just certain rooms that I'm in that have to deal with tech or with design, it still can be very much segregated in that way. But then I'll tell them like, oh I do such and such for this company. And then all of a sudden like the conversation changes like, oh wow, you do that? Wow, that's great. I'm like, yeah. Before, you didn't want to pay me any attention, but now it's a totally different story. So, no I totally understand what that feeling is like, I mean even in a city like Atlanta that has a big multi-ethnic, multicultural population, largely black, that still exists in a lot of tech spaces, which is, you know.

Dee Tuck: Yeah, it does.

Maurice Cherry: In 2019 that's a sad thing to say, but it does exist.

Dee Tuck: Yeah. And I've found that same scenario in Nashville. Any conferences that they hold here. I mean, if they're homegrown conferences meaning that it's like a Nashville group that actually put it together. They have like the Music City Code conference every year and I feel like over the years, I mean, it's gotten a little better where you'll see more diverse talent because of honestly honestly, the reason why you kind of see more diverse talent popping up here is because of the boot camps.

Dee Tuck: There's a lot of people going to the boot camps. And so that has actually helped a little bit. But honestly, I still haven't had the opportunity to work with a lot of minorities and I get the same kind of response that you mentioned of like, once I have a conversation with someone and then it's kind of dry and dead.

Dee Tuck: They ask me what I do and I'm like, oh yeah, I'm an engineering manager. And then they're like, oh yeah, really? Then, it's a whole thing. So, like what are you doing over there? Sometimes, it can turn into a job pitch.

Maurice Cherry: Yeah. It's interesting how that conversation just kind of ends up shifting like that. But yeah.

Maurice Cherry: So as I was doing my research, I saw that you gave an interview with Abstract. One of the questions that you asked, for people who have been on the show before, they know that I always ask something called the Oprah question and you said that if you could have dinner with one famous person that you would choose Oprah. So I was like, okay this is cool.

Maurice Cherry: And you said the question that you wanted to ask her is, can you walk me through your greatest failure? So I want to ask you to like walk me through your greatest failure and talk about how you emerged from it.

Dee Tuck: Yeah, okay. I would say like one of my greatest failures, the one that I felt like in my heart of like, aw man, this is bad. It definitely had to deal with tech. Right?

Dee Tuck: So as I stated, I went to Tuskegee and I took my first computer science class and I had no idea what I was doing. Like, I mean, I was picking up the concepts and I was doing enough to get a C on the test. I was skating that line of one wrong move would be a failure. But I did good. So I was right at the 70% mark. I was the C. I thought I was going to pass the class. I stayed in the computer lab like overnight. I mean, I bugged a lot of the more like the upperclassmen. Everyone was like helping me, teaching me concepts. I would be there until like, 1:00, 2:00.

Dee Tuck: They were, you know, everyone was helping me, teaching me concepts and I would be there till like one, two o'clock in the morning, you know, I was there. Like I put my heart and I put everything into it. And so when I got my grade for the course, I got a D and ...

Maurice Cherry: Oh.

Dee Tuck: Yeah. And I'm like, "No." Like I mean I calculated this grade to a T, and I'm like, "No. I know I passed." Like I know I've got a C, right? And so to be honest, I immediately started crying. I was just like, "Oh my God." You know, like, "I can't do this." Like, you know, I gave it my all and I still failed. And so I went to my professor's office, and I was just like, you know, "I just don't understand, like, why I didn't pass, and why do I have a D? I have to take the class over. Like, why?"

Dee Tuck: And what he did is he turned to the whiteboard and he was just like, he put some logic on the board and he was like, "Solve this." And so I went to the board and you know, I ended up solving it. I ended up solving it. And then, I mean it took some time. There was, you know, he had to add some input in there, right?

Maurice Cherry: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dee Tuck: That kind of helped me solve it. But he was just like, "See, if I pass you to the next class, you'll just fail." And so he was just like, "trust me, take the class over and things will be a lot easier. Like, I don't want to move you to the next level and you fail." And you know, that kind of like ... I left out of the office and I was like, "Okay, he has a point." But I was still kind of like, "Man, like, is this going to be a pattern of, can I really do it?"

Dee Tuck: Because I really gave my all, you know, and so I talked to one of my friends at the time and I was just like, "Look, I failed my first computer science class, maybe I need to switch my major." And I had the pamphlet with all the courses and the different majors. And so I'm flipping through it and I'm just like, "Oh, maybe I can do construction science management." And my friend was like, "Look, you love computers. Like, you love tech. Like, go register for this class and get off my phone."

Dee Tuck: And so I was like, "Yeah, you're right." Because I really couldn't find anything. And then I was just like, "I'm not a quitter." And so, but it was one of those things like, it hit hard. It hit hard for me to fail that class. But he was right. I took the course over, I ended up getting an A and then from there the rest is history. And by me taking that class over, I was able to build a foundation. He was right, if I had went to the next class, I would have just failed. And it would have just been like an ongoing thing of like, fail, pass, fail, pass, and nobody has money or time for that.

Dee Tuck: So I definitely would just say him making me realize that like, hey, you know, you need to spend more time on the fundamentals before you can go to the next level. And yeah, I mean it definitely was the best decision that somebody ... he made the decision for me but you know, definitely that opportunity changed me, you know.

Maurice Cherry: What do you think kind of helps, I guess, fuel that sense of ambition that you have? Like where does that come from?

Dee Tuck: Ah, yeah. I mean I would definitely just say my parents and just like, you know, people in my family and definitely just specifically the women in my family. They are, you know, go getters and really would just ... You know, worked hard and never wanted to be in a situation where they had to ask someone for anything. And so I would definitely say that has always stuck with me, is like, I always wanted to be independent. I've always wanted to be able to take care of myself. And so really just watching the women in my family do that and so it definitely just drove me to be the best person possible.

Maurice Cherry: When you look back at your career, like the work you're doing now at Abstract and even your previous roles and things, what do you wish you would have known when you first started?

Dee Tuck: I would definitely say don't be afraid to bring your whole self to work on day one. Yeah, I would, I would definitely say that. I think just always being ... I mean, just coming from a history of always being the only black in the room, or the only woman in the room. You know, it took a second for me to really come out of my shell. Like, you know, I have a nice sense of humor. There's other things about me, like I'm very invested in technology, you know, I like geeky things and so yeah. I think like just really bringing my whole self to work day one probably would be the best thing I could have done in the past, yeah.

Maurice Cherry: What are you most excited about at the moment?

Dee Tuck: Being in a position where I can directly impact diverse candidates. Right? Being at the table, right? That's one of the things that, like the last five years I started to realize, like, "Hey, you know, I'm the only person in the room." I don't ... Just being that minority and being the first and being the only was just, it really started to get to me and so that helped drive my decision to move into leadership. And so I'm just really excited to really make changes and you know, be able to be on the panel where hiring decisions are made, right.?

Maurice Cherry: Mm-hmm (affirmative). What does success look like for you at this point in your career? I mean it sounds you're at where you want to be, but you know what does success look like?

Dee Tuck: Yeah, I would definitely just say really just growing as a leader, you know, perfecting my leadership abilities to run teams and produce high quality work and also just really make changes in the D&I space for tech.

Maurice Cherry: Yeah. The D&I space in tech is interesting because I mean, it's something that has always been a regular conversation, but I feel like within the past, I don't know, maybe like 10 years it's taken on this very interesting ... what's the best way that I can put it? Because interesting is not a good way to put it. It's almost like a racket in a way. Like you certainly have people I think that are walking the walk, talking the talk with diversity. And then you have people that just do the conference circuit, and all they do is just talk about the issue. But they're not actually actively contributing to it; they're kind of just keeping it in people's minds in a way.

Dee Tuck: Yep.

Maurice Cherry: What do you think about that? Like where do you see kind of the diversity in tech conversation from your unique vantage point? Where do you see it?

Dee Tuck: Yeah, so going back to what I said before about bootcamps and really like, hiring less experienced engineers and nurturing that talent. And so I'd definitely say bootcamps are the way to go. If you're not hiring from bootcamps then I don't know how serious you are about D&I, right?

Dee Tuck: And it's really understandable that like, okay, you have a complicated product, or really this high profile product and you need some experience to kind of get it off the ground. Like, I totally get that. But I think there are some companies who totally, totally disregard bootcamps and scream D&I all over their website and it's like, no, you're not serious if you're solely focused on experienced individuals.

Maurice Cherry: Yeah.

Dee Tuck: So yeah. So I think just, definitely one of the things that I feel like the industry needs to move towards is really fostering that talent. There's actually bootcamps out there where companies can sponsor scholarships and then, you know, give those people who are awarded that scholarship through their company, they can actually hire that talent directly from that bootcamp. There's all types of creative ways and strategies to increase D&I and I think just going to talk about it or you know, posting on your website is just not enough. It's not enough.

Maurice Cherry: Where do you see yourself in the next five years? Like what kind of work do you want to be doing?

Dee Tuck: Yeah, so next five years. So I have plans to move out to the Bay Area permanently. So I definitely see myself living on the West coast. And with that I'd like to really get out there and just really do more talks, do more podcasts like this. This is my first one. And so I'd really like to get out there and just really talking to people who are interested in coming into the field, mentoring. Definitely really giving back to the tech community, to be honest. And really just growing as a leader as well.

Maurice Cherry: All right, well just to, you know, kind of wrap things up here, where can our audience find out more about you and about your work and everything online?

Dee Tuck: So you can find me on LinkedIn at Dee Tuck and then I'm also on Twitter as well. Deetuck_ and that's D. E. E. T. U. C. K. _

Maurice Cherry: All right, sounds good. Well Dee Tuck, I want to thank you so much for coming on the show. I mean first I want to thank you for just sharing a little bit about what life is like at Abstract, but also really, you know, going more into your personal journey.

Maurice Cherry: One thing I think that really stood out to me was that you had this uncle, this possibility model as Laverne Cox calls it, of someone that is doing something that you could see yourself doing. Like it's a possibility for you to be, you know, where he is doing the things that he's doing and tech is sort of the vehicle to get you there. And so it's good that you had that kind of inspiration to be able to get to where you are right now.

Maurice Cherry: And then also just sharing like your experiences at Tuskegee. I think more people really need to look at HBCUs and invest in HBCUs because there's some really special stuff that's going down there. I went to an HBCU myself. Like I mentioned, I went to Morehouse. A lot of good stuff going on there. Like, don't just look at it as like, "Oh, it's the black school." Like, there's something special happening at HBCUs.

Dee Tuck: Yeah.

Maurice Cherry: But no, thank you again so much for coming on the show. I really do appreciate it.

Dee Tuck: No, thank you for having me.