Wendy Gonzalez Sama CEO women in tech global conference

    For too long, doing well in business and doing good in life have seemed like opposing goals — especially with the breakneck pace of technological developments in industries like AI. But having a double or even triple bottom line isn’t just possible: it’s happening right now.

    Wendy Gonzalez is Sama’s CEO and oversees the company’s ongoing mission to give dignified, meaningful work, not aid, to women, youth, and others with a lack of formal employment opportunities in East Africa. Just last fall, Sama hired 2,100 more Kenyans to give them a path to the digital economy and have a say in one of the most critical parts of AI development: the data annotations that help models make decisions.

    She’ll share how her journey led her to realize that she could both empower communities and grow a business; why social business or impact business is not just viable, but in everyone’s purview; and ways to make it a reality in your business.

    1. Motivation to Speak

    Are you excited to speak at the Women in Tech Global Conference and what motivated you to join our community of 100,000 women in tech, minorities, and allies?

    Absolutely, I’m excited! When women succeed, whole communities succeed, and this conference is designed to help women around the world succeed and continue breaking barriers in tech. I’m looking forward not just to sharing my story, but also hearing from some of the other speakers as well. I was motivated to join the community because of this focus and understanding that we need to lift each other up both professionally and personally.

    2. Background and Inspiration

    Share with us about your background, your journey in tech, and what inspired you to develop your career in this direction?

    Throughout my career, from consulting to the enterprise to where I am now at Sama, the question I’ve been looking to solve is: How do you use technologies to move businesses forward? As my career progressed and I had three kids, I began to question how I could serve communities as part of my full-time work. This inspiration comes from my husband in particular, who always keeps his judgment and moral compass intact in business while also working to lift people up.

    Sama spoke to everything that has been a focus in my career from the beginning, and I’m working every day to be a proof point that social business is possible in tech.

    3. Why is the topic “Positively Impacting Communities AND Succeeding as a Woman in Tech” so important to you?

    At Sama, we believe that talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. When we share our successes with others by positively affecting the communities we live and work in, we can create those opportunities even in places where they haven’t always been available. Since our founding in 2008, we’ve helped lift more than 65,000 people out of poverty. That is directly due to our focus on both business success and community success.

    4. Who would you advise to attend the Women in Tech Global Conference and why?

    I believe that for technological advancements, AI included, to live up to their fullest positive potential, everyone needs to have a seat at the table. We need to give a wide range of voices a say in how these things are developed, how they’re used, and whom they are ultimately meant to serve. Only then can we realize the maximum positive impact.

    I think it’s vital not just for women and minorities to attend, but for anyone who’s looking to build a better future through tech to attend, too — no matter their gender or ethnicity. The more people hear our voices as women and minorities, the more they will consider how to incorporate these diverse perspectives into the development of these technologies. The WTGC may have a bigger impact than we’ll ever know.