100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM – Tammara Combs of Serendipity Interactive

100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM – Tammara Combs of Serendipity Interactive

The 100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM blog series features a new business executive Monday-Friday and the exemplary work his or her company is doing to support 21st century STEM learning and workforce development- particularly for women, minorities and under-represented groups. Learn more and download the whole copy at STEMConnector.org/100Diverse. Follow the conversation on social media using #100STEMLeaders. Today’s Diverse Corporate Leader is Tammara Combs, founder and chief executive officer at Serendipity Interactive.

SERENDIPITY-CombsTammara Combs
Founder & CEO
Serendipity Interactive

Dr. Tammara Combs is recognized in digital marketing, social technology and data security. She’s held leadership positions in conceiving and executing innovations in technology, market strategy and business development for corporations, startups, and universities. Dr. Combs’ specialties include online communities, social networking, and engaging social influencers within organizations. She has served as interim CEO of technology startups, enhancing the value of companies while securing customers and funding. As a VP at Lowe’s, Dr. Combs held responsibility for the e-commerce website, online strategy and customer loyalty program, MyLowes. As an engineer & research manager at Microsoft, her work included product development, enhancing grassroots creativity and company-wide innovation. Dr. Combs is a member of the Executive Leadership Council, an organization dedicated to empowering corporate leaders to make significant and impactful contributions in the global marketplace and their communities. Dr. Combs resides in North Carolina with her two young sons.

About Serendipity Interactive

Serendipity Interactive, LLC is a marketing technology firm that develops strategies to match products and services with the right customers. Headquartered north of Charlotte, NC, the company develops software, conducts market research, and builds market strategies for clients looking to understand ever-changing consumer mindsets, obtaining competitive insights, and achieving executive buy-in. The company specializes in digital strategy, web development, operations planning and celebrity engagements. Serendipity Interactive was founded in 2010 and has served organizations throughout the United States and globally. For more information, visit www.serendipityinteractive.com, or follow on Twitter @Innovate4You.

Tammara on Diversity and STEM
How do we encourage students to continue their study of STEM subjects, particularly women and underrepresented minorities?

Women and minorities in STEM roles in organizations have to be touchable and show examples of hard work and hard play. The beauty of the diversity of STEM fields is that it can be used to make games for pure enjoyment as well as to develop medicine and apparatuses to save lives. It is exciting to see students’ minds open when they see the science in everyday things. For instance, I remember when I was taught to recognize that the Fibonacci Sequence occurs in nature in many difference occasions – in strawberries, pine cones, sunflowers, etc. I was so intrigued that I began to look for the sequence everywhere. We encourage students to continue their studies in STEM by finding something that truly intrigues them and by cultivating their curiosity, situating their natural thirst for knowledge in something STEM-related.

What do corporations need to do to create more STEM careers and fill existing jobs?

Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking if someone has a STEM-related degree that we no longer have to worry about retaining their interest in the field. That could not be further from the truth. There are many who have survived the grueling nights of writing and compiling code, developing cool apps and memorizing theorems only to find that the real world applications of their studies are not what they expected. In some cases, it is the divergent mind-set and of their work colleagues that have them wanting to explore different career options. In working with our clients, many executives recognize the need to do something different but there are many reasons why they do not move quickly. One main reason for a slowed pace of transition is the often heard mantra of the inability to find appropriate candidates. Corporations will need to partner with colleges and universities to recruit talented students and spend time trolling online communities for STEM-enthusiasts who may not have completed college but are skilled in their craft.

What counsel would you provide around “collaborating to achieve success” in STEM education and the workforce?

As we look to the next-generation global leader, current corporate executives must recognize that students today work in a highly collaborative environment at school, at home and in extracurricular activities. In order to foster collaboration between STEM educators, students and the workforce, more formal and informal intervention programs need to be established to allow students to see the diversity of STEM. They must see that for every success story, there were a dozen failures and many more lessons learned, understanding that no great success was ever achieved without failure. Educators should have their students research and study not just the commercial STEM projects that have succeeded but also those which were major blunders and what the industry learned. “When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel.” – Eloise Ristad

How can we advance mentorships and apprenticeships in the STEM pipeline?

We need programs that maximize the matching process for students to corporate leaders. Students will be able to apprentice with someone who would be of benefit to them and the corporate leaders will have eager students with whom to work. Even before individuals reach the level of working in a corporation, I am a firm believe in reaching while you climb. That means, at every level you find yourself, there is at least one person you can mentor who is trying to achieve the level you have completed. If you are in high school, mentor someone is middle or elementary school. Mentorship and apprenticeship should embody the meaning of paying forward.

How should those working to improve the STEM workforce measure success?

The most obvious answer to key performance indicators for improvements in STEM is the number of talented people, including women and underrepresented minorities, in the pipeline. Additionally, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. Many programs that are developed lack a systematic procedure for measuring success and those that do, are evaluated by internal employees with no audits or checks in the process at the level of sourcing and hiring.

  • michaelhallM4
    Posted at 17:03h, 23 December

    100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM – Tammara Combs of Serendipity Interactive. #ii395 #digigrass http://t.co/tdfMJjO840

  • ayandace
    Posted at 18:30h, 23 December

    RT @michaelhallM4: 100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM – Tammara Combs of Serendipity Interactive. #ii395 #digigrass http://t.co/tdfMJjO8…

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