In honor of Black History Month, we’re spotlighting leaders in our community and sharing their stories. Today, we feature Byron Smith, Vice President of Mainframe Security at M&T Bank, who will share his journey as a millennial mainframer and thoughts on diversity in the mainframe space.
Byron started his 10-year career in mainframes as an intern at IBM during his sophomore year at University of Maryland Eastern Shore (Go Hawks!). Even though he didn’t have the proper grades, IBM saw his hunger and motivation. What drew him to the mainframe was its value to society. He says, “I realized that the mainframe played a critical part in our everyday lives. It’s the backbone of our society. I noticed how different components, different organizations, different ethnicities, backgrounds, were all working to support an economy on a global spectrum, and not just in the United States. I can join an industry where I’m actually doing something and making a difference, and not just a programmer writing code.”
Byron believes that “diversity is going to play a critical part in society’s succession towards technology advances because technology is going to overpower a lot of things moving forward.” It helps that diversity is a foundation in the mainframe space. “Believe it or not, it was always there. There were women, there were people from different ethnicities and backgrounds, there were people from different affinity groups like the LGBT community. It’s diverse by design,” he adds.
Because of this, the mainframe has the power to take the society to the next level. He says it starts with the hiring managers. Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace is still a sensitive topic for most people. He explains that “In order for us to change a century-long issue, we got to start by looking at what we are now. How can we change for the future to help us help each other, help our business partners, and the society, in general? My piece of advice for hiring managers is to start looking at the content of character, not just the skills because that will take you far more. I can teach you mainframe, I can teach you cybersecurity, and even integrity. But I can’t teach you how to be transparent. I can’t teach you how to be honest.”
Learn more about Byron’s inspiriting story and interesting perspective in the video below.