Empowering Underserved Communities through Tech with Irma Olguin Jr.
Growing up in a farming and agriculture community, Irma Olguin Jr. never imagined a life and career in tech. Taking the PSAT as a sophomore and being offered a scholarship to attend college in Ohio completely changed the trajectory of Irma’s life. Inspired by her own story of opportunity and life changing decisions, Irma has made it her life’s work to positively affect and change the lives of people from underserved communities through tech with Bitwise Industries. The idea of Bitwise was hatched in 2012 over a Red Bull (hers) and a gin and tonic (his) with her then IP attorney, Jake Soberal. Fueled by a series of aha moments, they decided they were in a unique position to build such a mechanism for progress. At Bitwise, Irma oversees the screening and interviewing of all employment candidates and apprentices, including that of Bitwise Workforce Training and Bitwise Technology Services. Her goal is to ensure Bitwise always remains faithful to its mission of strengthening Fresno’s tech industry and turning it into a driver of real economic progress. Previously, Irma created 59DaysOfCode, a competition highlighting and encouraging the Valleyʼs tech industry. She co-founded Hashtag, an open co-workspace for designers and developers alike. She also co-founded Edit LLC to solve efficiency and data issues in the ag industry. Irma holds a degree in computer science and engineering from University of Toledo, Ohio and has been a contributing advisor on several community boards, including 59DaysOfCode, President’s Advisory Board for California State University – Fresno, the American Red Cross (Central Valley Chapter), Kingsview Behavioral Health, and Youth Leadership Institute. Her dog, Bruce, is the king of her world and is widely recognized as the mascot for Bitwise Industries.
What You Will Hear in This Episode:
2:16 Irma’s personal story
13:08 First job and first significant paycheck
15:32 Bitwise, opportunity and potential
17:58 What differentiates Bitwise
27:05 Success defined
29:31 Personal motivation
“Sometimes it's something as simple as a bus ticket that stands in the way of your next opportunity.”
“The truth is that an average person, an average mind with an average skill, can make an above average contribution in the technology industry because of the state of the world. Because technology is the fastest growing industry on the planet, because it is pervasive and it shows up in all of the different places in our lives, you need talent, you need human capital to power that, to make that continue to grow and so there's space for all kinds of minds, and it doesn't just have to be the kid that got an 800 in math on his SATs,
“At the end of the day, all of these trappings and all the pretty words about what Bitwise is and does it all comes down to whether that person found a way to take advantage of the opportunity to change their own lives and then implicit in our culture is, did you take that and then use it to deliberately contribute to the success of somebody else?
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