Technology is constantly evolving, but Shayna Atkins, Founder, and CEO of AtkCo Inc., offers learning with in-person certification courses, online curated curriculum, and coaching for lean product development to prepare employees for tech’s next curveball. In this interview, Atkins shares her insights on the rapidly changing Fintech space, the importance of recruiting from underserved communities, and why it’s important to have great expectations.
There are a few things that even the best psychics can’t tell you; lottery numbers, Super Bowl champions, and exactly what the Fintech industry will bring tomorrow. From blockchain to AI and remittance technology, it’s no surprise that many financial services companies are asking themselves the same question; ‘how do we prepare ourselves for an industry that’s rapidly changing?’
It’s a question that Shayna Atkins, Founder and CEO of AtkCo Inc., has pondered on more than one occasion.
“I’ve often asked myself why companies have such a hard time evolving their systems and after working in the industry for eight years, I’ve observed that many organizations often look externally when it’s time to adapt to change. When this happens, they often neglect to reskill and retrain the internal talent and that can create significant issues in a space where things are always changing.”
But that’s just one -- albeit significant -- piece of the puzzle. Atkins says that businesses also fail at reskilling and retraining their staff because they have a hard time predicting tech trends.
“One big problem tech companies deal with today is that their employees don’t have the skills to stay ahead of the curve. Some businesses will try to see what’s around the corner but because tech is so unpredictable, that can be really hard.”
To solve this problem, Atkins founded AtkCo Inc., which helps businesses incorporate new, emerging technology into today’s workforce. She helps companies stay up-to-date on the latest tech systems by providing curriculum, training, and coaching companies in agile methods and practices at scale.
She says the agile approach is a practical response for an ever-evolving industry, particularly because it encourages adaptive planning, evolutionary development, continuous improvement, and an openness to flexibility and change.
“When it comes to technology, particularly in the financial services, you’re always going to be asking what’s next. You can only predict so much, but the key is to be adaptive. You might not know what’s coming next, but if you’re flexible, than you’re better prepared to roll with it.”
For AtkCo, Atkins is asking the same question. In the spirit of what’s next, AtkCo leveraged WiSTEM to launch and expand her product offering into the digital space to be able to make a greater impact as a hybrid learning company on and offline. We are building a platform that leverages artificial intelligence, digital interaction, and gamification to take the learning to the next level. Learning emerging technology is already hard enough, AtkCo is looking to make the learning process engaging and fun. Atkins believe this is key to absorb complex topics.
And after she secured a number of major Fortune 500 and Fintech companies to her client roster, Atkins realized that her company could help serve more than just the tech community.
“My initial thought process was, ‘how can I help emerging tech professionals within corporations?’ Eventually, I found that companies not only had a hard time upskilling their professionals but also had a hard time finding diverse talent, so another one of our focus areas is to help companies bring in and train diverse teams.”
To increase the pipeline of diverse talent, AtkCo Inc. provides scholarships for individuals in underserved communities and trains them in the latest tech and agile practices. Atkins’ efforts have helped companies diversify their talent and continue to recruit the best and brightest employees. While increasing organizational diversity in the workplace is part of her business, Atkins says it’s also a personal passion.
“In addition to my company, I launched the Queen’s Brunch, which is a business brunch event for women of color. We spent a lot of time discussing entrepreneurial issues and that’s really helped build my company.”
The Queen’s Brunch is also where Atkins began hearing about WiSTEM, 1871’s 12-week accelerator program for women entrepreneurs. At first, Atkins was apprehensive about joining the program because she didn’t believe she was prepared.
“One of the unifying threads for the women tech founders who found themselves at the Queen’s Brunch was WiSTEM and I had actually looked at the program for more than two years before I actually applied. I took too long to apply because I was focused on being 100 percent ready, but I’d say one of the best decisions I’ve ever made was letting go of the need to be perfect and just going for it.”
And ‘just going for it’ is a good way to sum up Atkins’ current perspective on both business and life. Today, she focuses on setting high goals and follows the old adage; shoot for the moon, because even if you miss -- you'll land among the stars.
“What I admire are big visions and actively going after them. As a woman of color, I am motivated by other women of color who have taken big steps. Are there barriers for us? Yes. But that’s why it’s important to go for your vision and your passion -- if you see an opportunity, take it. You might not think you’re ready for it, but you’ll figure it out as you go. That’s the Agile way. That’s the AtkCo way.”
Learn more about WiSTEM and the other companies of Cohort 6.