Laura Teclemariam is a rarity in California’s Bay Area, and it’s not just because she is an African American female software engineer. She was actually born and bred in the Bay Area, too.
“I grew up in the Bay Area long before it was called Silicon Valley,” she says. “I’m one of the few natives here. Everyone is an import!”
Teclemariam, who currently works as senior product manager for gaming and entertainment giant, EA, has also been in the tech field before there was so much focus on diversity in tech. Fascinated by tech gadgets since she was a kid, Teclemariam graduated with a degree in electrical engineering/computer science from the University of California, Irvine.
Teclemariam jumps right into tech-talk, discussing some of the work she does at EA, “There are so many devices. We are moving into a period of time where people are overloaded with data.”
“With the phenomena of big data and [the] cloud, companies need to figure out how to streamline all that data, so users and customers don’t feel that overload stress,” she says.
Teclemariam then gives an example, citing EA FIFA and Madden gamers, “If you love FIFA or Madden, you are going to download Madden mobile, play it on PlayStation or Xbox, and you’re going to watch videos on YouTube. All of that info can be a lot, and it can consume a lot of time.”
To manage all of that data, EA takes an approach similar to Amazon. “Amazon has a relationship with me. When I press what I want to view or put it in my shopping cart, when I am at work on my desktop or phone, Amazon will remind me, ‘You have this dress in your shopping cart.’ Then it will tell me, ‘By the way, there are two other dresses you may like,’” she says.
That is very similar to what she and her team build out at EA, “[It’s] building conversations with our players, and how we can manage that data overload. What we are doing is really understanding behavioral science, and managing and targeting our players, [and] they end up saying, ‘I feel like I really have a relationship with EA.’”
Teclemariam can easily expound on artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual reality, and other technical matters. Although she works for EA, she herself is not a hardcore gamer. However, she did say, “My daughters play Plants Versus Zombies with me.”
Silicon Valley Living
Because she is from and currently lives in the Silicon Valley region, Teclemariam has technology embedded in all aspects of her world, even in her home life. She and her husband, who is also an African American engineer, have invested in Nest. “We have our thermostats and security systems all programmed,” she says, ticking off other tech that the couple has at home.
In addition to tech, she is very committed to furthering diversity in the industry. “I am on the board of our new employee diversity group,” she explains. “I do feel like one of the few [African American and female] pioneers being born and raised here. I take responsibility to pave the way for other young girls and boys of color, [to] let them know there are role models and resources for them to continue down the same path.”