Sheffie Robinson, Founder and CEO of Shamrck, seriously doubted she would ever succeed in the technology industry. “I’m a Black Woman self taught in a male dominated arena,” she said, “complete imposter syndrome.”
Now, she represents a marginalized demographic dedicating her life to solving racial and gender equity in the field where she once felt alienated. “It’s just a space I love to be in,” she said. “Some people deem code as being pretty pictures and numbers and now we’re changing lives.”
Robinson is one of Google’s top 50 Black Founders, recipient of the Cloud Solution of the Year by M12 (Microsoft’s venture capital fund) and Women in Cloud, named Top 10 Under 40 and Top CEO by Mississippi Business Journal, a SheEO Venture semi-finalist, Databird’s “Rising Star,” a military wife, a mother, a Black Woman.
However, she is more than a name for February Black History Month or a name for March Women’s History Month.
Her name is Sheffie Robinson. She is the only Black woman that she knows of working in AI workforce development.
Robinson’s startup, Shamrck is an AI solutions company that is revolutionizing workforce development in underserved and minority communities. “Everything we do looks at success from a social lens – cause and effect. How many lives can we change? How can we change the world with our technology?” she said.
“How many lives can we change?”
Robinson has always been social-impact driven. Even since childhood, Robinson could be found combining sociological theory with technology. This tech CEO/Founders’ whole life changed the day her mother brought home one of the first computers.
“At 12 years old, AOL was the thing. My Mom couldn’t afford AOL! We ran out of time on the free disks. So I remembered all the MS Docks commands from Oregon Trail, went into the back, and hacked my way into AOL. I realized I can do so many different things with code. It’s fun for me to see how much I can create with lines of words. It just snowballed from there,” said Sheffie Robinson.
Robinson has accumulated 23 years of experience in software engineering, spending seven years in the tech workforce as a freelance software engineer. Seven years masking a hidden talent as a mere hobby; “I have been building software since 1999 and I’m completely self-taught. I had a passion for finding ways to provide technical solutions for the underserved and I still possess that passion,” she said.
Although Robinson had work experience in technology, the lack of diverse representation in leadership throughout the industry discouraged the now, award winning innovator. In 2014, Robinson’s husband suggested she turn her side hustle into a career. In 2015, Shamrck was founded. Yet, not with the purpose of its work now. However, 95% of Robinson’s consumers were female or minority.
“How can we change the world with our technology?“
Obtaining a Sociology degree from Thomas Edison State University, in Trenton, NJ, in 2020 amidst the commencement of a global pandemic, with a son entering his senior year of high school, Robinson had an insiders perspective of the pitfalls of COVID-level learning.
Shamrck’s business plan pivoted. Studying to be a mechanical engineer, her son’s high school didn’t offer the correct class for his high level course requirements. Robinson went to the local community college and school board. Resulting in a created a class for her son and the six other students they found with the same issue.
“It was like, wow, how many parents don’t know they can advocate for their kids this way? And how many schools don’t know they need these programs or have the resources behind them. How can we effect the future workforce in a way that gets them what they need not necessarily what we think they need. What are you going to college for? You’re not? What assistance do you get from there? Influencing diversity and equity in the workforce has to go back further than teaching college students and adults, otherwise, the next generation will have the same issues,” Sheffie Robinson said.
“Our goal is to make a community impact.”
Children in Hawaii believe in order to get a good job, they have to leave their home and family to receive proper training. However, Shamrck is repairing and impacting an entire island of overlooked people. The AI workforce development startup is currently integrated in a large high school in Hawaii stimulating economic development, solving long-stemming issues, and providing resources to students all without them having to leave the island.
Repurposing and expanding its preexisting AI functionality, Shamrck is standardizing education, creating metrics and facilitating benchmarks as it relates to current industry standards. Robinson changes lives and impacts communities, many of which are underrepresented and marginalized. Having personal experience in an industry lacking diversity, Robinson is first-handedly shaping the future for the better.
Yet, she’s as humble as she is heroic. “The work is more important than I even thought. People are recognizing. It’s just a highlight to the problem and the effort that is necessary to solve it. To me, that just means I gotta keep going. Were at the very beginning. We haven’t even touched a smidget of the capability of what the platform is or can do,” said Sheffie Robinson in response to her many awards and accolades.