targeting urban youth.
Al Zollar, President And Ceo, Lotus Development Corp.
On preparing the next tech-savvy generation
Wealth creation in our society has been driven by technology, especially over the past few years. It’s extremely important to me that African Americans and people of color in general not be left out of this wealth creation wave, as we have been left out of other wea
lth creation waves throughout history. In order for that to happen, we have to become very comfortable with technology. That starts with our youth.
We really have to solve the problem of our African American and Hispanic children. Many of them are opting out of math and science; attrition is particularly acute around the sixth grade. I think many of the reasons for this have to do with the educational system in general. It’s up to us to make sure that we are adequately prepared through the rigorous study of math and science. Many of the schools that our children attend have teachers who don’t have the same credentials as those in other communities and private schools teaching math and science. The ability to motivate students to pursue these fields is always going to be linked to the teacher’s ability to connect with these students. To use my own personal example, it was a series of teachers through my high school years who motivated me to become interested in math and, ultimately, pursue a college degree in the subject.
Mentoring programs are also very important, and it’s crucial for African Americans who are in the technology field to give back and provide that type of guidance. We talk a lot about the Digital Divide and how we have to get access to technology. But at the end of the day, it’s people who inspire each other, not the tools they use.
Al Zollar was named president and CEO of Lotus Development Corp., the industry leader in messaging collaboration and knowledge management software, earlier this year. Prior to that, he was general manager of IBM’s Network Computing Software Division. He holds a master of arts degree in applied mathematics from the University of California at San Diego.