MLT Blog

MLT Rising Leaders Making History: Ime Archibong

by: Avril Langevine

We at MLT are celebrating Black History Month by featuring the accomplishments of some of our more than 4,000 fellows and alumni. These Rising Leaders are blazing a path toward senior management, and thousands more are coming behind them. MLT is proud to support them every step of the way. Both as individuals and through their collective impact, our  Rising Leaders are making history every day, and leaving a profound impact on their organizations, communities, and industries.

Ime Archibong, MLT MBA Prep 2006 alumnus, is the director of product partnerships at Facebook. He talked to Nikita Richardson of Fast Companylast month about the diversity challenges he sees in Silicon Valley. Here are excerpts from his interview:

“I was born in Kansas, but was raised in North Carolina. … I went to school and undergrad up at Yale and double majored in electrical engineering and computer science.

“For my parents, the pragmatic outcome that they see from education is, ‘Oh, you need to go be a doctor or go be a lawyer.’ We couldn’t see what the pragmatic outcome was of going and getting a computer science degree. … Steve Jobs was around when I was going through school. Bill Gates was around when I was going through school. But I don’t look at a Steve Jobs or a Bill Gates and say, ‘Hey, that’s immediately someone who I think I can be like one day.’

“[I worked for several years at IBM where] you look to the top and there were two African-Americans. … So, those were some of the early figureheads for me that I would look to and think, ‘Oh, well, if they’ve done it, I can do something, too.’

“IBM [is] a hundred-year-old company that has been thinking about diversity longer than I’ve been alive. … So, it was an interesting thing to be dropped into IBM where there were 40 years of thought being put to how they were approaching [diversity] and then being transferred over to Facebook where it was all being put together in real time. Once we’ve attracted the right talent, similar to the rest of the employee base, how do we make sure that [Facebook] keeps that talent? I think it can all be fleshed out and thought about for individual companies’ needs. And then once you keep that talent, I think it’s all about growing that talent.

“I think that there’s been a lot of data and research out there that hammers home the notion that when you have people sitting around the table that have diverse backgrounds or cognitive differences in their backgrounds, better products end up getting built. We see this time and time again.

“Facebook continues to grow [and] if we’re going to go from 1.3 billion users to 7 billion one day, we need to make sure that our employees reflect the real world and make sure we’re building the most relevant and impactful stuff for the world.

“So long as we continue to push people to really care about the issues, opportunities, challenges for diversity out here in the Bay Area, there’s no doubt in my mind that the tactics that people take over the next decade will solve those issues and solve those problems.”

Read the full article here.

Silicon Valley will certainly benefit from change-makers such as Ime speaking out about the need for diversity in the technology sector. Ime has become a role model for other MLT Rising Leaders interested in a career in tech.

We are thrilled that Facebook, Google, Pandora, LinkedIn, Intuit, and Intel, MLT partners in the technology sector, are committed to diversity throughout their organizations.