In celebration of Black History Month and International Women’s Day, Qualcomm is proud to feature Fatim Mbaye, who has been extremely influential in recruiting and empowering African and African American employees.
Fatim Mbaye, a program manager based in San Diego, has always been an advocate for diversity in the tech industry, which gets a bad rap for being very white, very male and very unable to reconcile its shortcomings.
But at Qualcomm, she has found an entire community dedicated to representing, recruiting and supporting African and African American employees. And from attending her first event with the group, she’s understood the diversity and inclusion work being done at Qualcomm is the real deal.
“Leadership at Qualcomm is investing more and more in our diversity initiatives. I believe that’s a good reflection of the evolving and progressive culture,” Mbaye shared. “I am most proud of our efforts in recruiting black talent. With Qualcomm’s buy-in, we have been able to attend conferences and bring in interns and new hires.”
We spoke to Mbaye about how her work with Qualcomm’s African and African American Diversity Group (QAAAD) has made her everyday work feel more meaningful, how the group is approaching intersectionality in tech and how Qualcomm’s support has made their campaigns feel worthwhile. She also shared her best advice for women who want to do inclusion work within their organizations — and spoke to the recruiting event that she was able to participate in years after it supplied her an early-career internship.
How long have you been in your current role and what were you doing previously?
I have been in a Program Management role at Qualcomm for four and a half years. Prior to that, I was a Program Manager at Texas Instruments for supporting new product development of high-performance analog products.
How and why did you first get involved with Qualcomm’s black affinity group? Did the group draw you to Qualcomm?
I was not recruited by QAAAD, but I looked for them as soon as I joined Qualcomm!
I have always been an advocate for diversity and was an active member of the Black Employee Initiative, as well as Women’s Initiative, at my former employer. Once I reached out to QAAAD, the group was getting ready for their main annual recruiting trip at the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) convention and I volunteered to join them.
NSBE holds a special part in my heart because I was very involved as a university student and was the secretary of my school’s chapter while completing my graduate studies. I actually got my first internship through a NSBE conference! I was so excited to go full circle and talk to candidates at the Qualcomm booth, hopefully opening the doors to their first job or internship.
I came back from that trip feeling like a part of the QAAAD family and accepted the invitation to be part of the Operating Council. I’ve been serving on the board ever since.
What have been the benefits of getting involved with your affinity group? Who have you met? How have they helped you in your professional journey?
There are so many benefits! From networking with peers and senior management to making an impact in our local community through event sponsorships to hosting middle and high school minority students and inspiring them to pursue STEM to being part of a mentorship program. Ultimately, there’s a feeling that there are others around you with a shared experience.
What has the affinity group accomplished that you’re most proud of?
I am most proud of our efforts in recruiting black talent. With Qualcomm’s buy-in, we have been able to attend conferences and bring in interns and new hires. And with the support of our Diversity and Inclusion team, the Qualcomm University recruiting team added two new universities that are historically black to their list of targeted campuses for their annual recruiting campaigns. We are already seeing an increase in our numbers.
What’s the #1 thing you think you colleagues should know — but probably don’t know — about the group?
The talent is there — we need to go to it. Diversity in a technology field is very important and QAAAD can be a powerful tool to help attract black talent. With the emergence of AI, it is even more important to ensure that all voices are at the table to come up with better solutions and counteract unconscious bias.
How does the black affinity group engage with or collaborate with other affinity groups? How has this intersectionality created value at Qualcomm?
One of our goals this year is to collaborate more with other diversity groups and I am looking forward to it. Our first effort of synergy will be with the women affinity group, Qwomen. We are co-sponsoring a symposium organized by the San Diego Commission on the Status of Women and Girls on human trafficking. The topic is very timely and both organizations want to raise awareness within our community. The event will be held on the Qualcomm campus and is open to the public.
How are your company’s affinity groups reflective of the overall culture at Qualcomm?
I’ve personally noted that leadership at Qualcomm is investing more and more in our diversity initiatives. I believe that’s a good reflection of the evolving and progressive culture at Qualcomm.
What is your advice for women who want to make the company they work for more inclusive?
It starts with women! We need to be more supportive of each other and mentor and sponsor our junior colleagues. In addition, we need to recruit more male allies, as this cannot be done without their support.
As a longer-term strategy, there is power in numbers; we need more women to pursue engineering and STEM in general. So, let us inspire all young girls through mentoring and school visits to show them that the possibilities are endless. I truly believe in reaching out to the youth because representation matters and can make a difference in what someone can dare to dream of.
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