Austin Urban Technology Movement (AUTMHQ) and Michael Ward Jr

Innovatively Redefining Career Readiness and Eliminating the Skills Gap in Tech




As Featured In:

INNOVATE® Austin Volume 2

Throughout history, a lack of career readiness and workforce development have stunted the advancement of society and its ability to overcome challenges. Take, for example, the industrial revolution where we witnessed mass migration to the North for factory jobs, the call for nurses and doctors in our healthcare system as it has been overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, and more recently, the shortage of teachers to educate our children. However, not everyone has had equitable access to programs that cultivate career readiness and workforce development. When examining the tech industry in particular, you’ll find a predominantly male, white, and Asian workforce, and a skills gap due to the lack of access, training and development of all members of our society.

In 2022, technology is one of the fastest growing industries and has more than 4 million jobs unfilled in the United States. With the demand for tech jobs outpacing our current education framework, there is a need for innovative solutions that upskill and reskill members of our society. However, innovating is easier said than done. Employers’ reliance on traditional recruiting methods and the government’s tendency to push the status quo, makes implementing change a slow process, if it is able to happen at all.

Michael Ward Jr., President and CEO of Austin Urban Technology Movement (AUTMHQ), is challenging tradition and pushing past the status quo through AUTMHQ, a 501c3 tech nonprofit he founded. AUTMHQ bridges the gap between the Black and Hispanic communities and the tech industry through job placement, career development, and networking opportunities. AUTMHQ provides career pathways for those looking to get into tech, a job board for those looking for employment, and events to connect techies within the Global Majority. As stakeholders search for talent and individuals pray to excel in tech, AUTMHQ has built a one stop shop for career readiness and workforce development through their own tech ecosystem of 50+ partners. As a result, AUTMHQ is removing barriers, regardless of the end-user’s background, income, or education, to help its participants reach their next career level in tech.

Ward’s resume ranges from work at Oracle, ADP, and leading Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), all of which have contributed experience and lessons learned on his journey towards social entrepreneurship. However, it’s his current servant leadership roles that have provided Ward a platform to amplify AUTMHQ’s work and create incremental change in the tech industry. In addition to leading AUTMHQ, Ward is a member of the Innovation and Technology Caucus of the Texas House, the Texas Science and Engineering Fair Board, the University of Texas at Austin Cockrell School of Engineering Board, and the Greater Austin STEM Ecosystem Board.

Ward sees the lack of diversity in tech and the tech industry’s skills gap as an opportunity for innovation to take shape and to improve the quality of life for those that have been historically underrepresented and underserved. However, in order to take advantage of this opportunity, it will require society to release the status quo and traditional ways of solving problems. Through AUTMHQ, Ward is challenging the world to do just that by facilitating a movement towards diversity, equity and inclusion in an industry that can no longer afford to be exclusive.

In 2016, Austin Urban Technology Movement (AUTMHQ) originated from an association of Black tech leaders seeking advancement opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Communities in the technology a broad-based coordinated movement to address its persistent lack of diversity. By 2019, AUTMHQ had incorporated into a state nonprofit and by 2020 earned its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. Along the way. AUTMHQ has transformed ideas about the delivery of workforce development by combing online technology skills training with a robust slate of career advancement opportunities – networking events, mentoring, job shadowing, volunteering, and job placement. AUTMHQ is reshaping the technology industry and making its underrepresented groups self-sustaining and long lasting presence.

Michael, who is originally from Miami, FL. began his career in enterprise sales at Oracle, concentrating on cloud and on-premise technologies. Michael also led Oracle’s Black employee resource group at this period, with the goal of increasing the upward mobility of Oracle’s Black employees in the United States. Canada, and Brazil. Michael graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Political Science and Global Studies. Michael Ward Jr. is a social entrepreneur that is interested in technology and socioeconomic development. Michael is the current President and CEO of the Austin Urban Technology Movement (AUTMHQ). He serves on a variety of boards in Central Texas focused on STEM and workforce development, and he just joined the IT Caucus as a Community Partner.

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