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10 questions with Tilden on everything from LGBTQ+ progress to coming out advice

“Stories like mine are just not seen. And when they are seen, they are often not told.” Tilden Chima, Cloud Engineer

Tilden is an up and coming solution engineer in our Cloud Solutions Hub in Santa Monica. He specializes in IoT and Robotics, but that’s not the only place he’s blazing a trail. Tilden is also the founder of the Oracle Pride Employee Network (OPEN) chapter in Santa Monica. He’s deeply passionate about social change, increasing minority representation in tech, and helping the LGBTQ+ community positively impact their communities.

Tilden’s OPEN chapter has recently been recognized by Out & Equal which handpicked them as one of three finalists out of more than 700 companies worldwide. Given this wonderful accolade and the fact that National Coming Out Day is here, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to sit town with Tilden who is taking the tech world by storm—and shows no sign of slowing down.

1. Why did you choose to launch your career with Oracle? What did you hope to achieve?

I graduated magna cum laude in biomedical engineering from the University of Southern California (USC). During my college years I had been privileged to engage in strong strategy and business consulting experiences while in a rigorous engineering curriculum.

Going into the workplace, I wanted to be in a role that would allow me to bring my engineering, strategy consulting, and customer-facing skills into impactful projects. The solution engineering role at Oracle was one of my top choices for launching my career because it allowed me to bring all of these talents to the job (and much more).

More importantly, I was also keen on joining a company that had strong diversity and inclusion initiatives. During my senior year of college, I had co-led our school’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) to become the overall best chapter in the nation by strengthening the academic and professional resources available to members, with support from a few university staff and classmates. I wanted to be at a company where I could continue that work of lifting up traditionally underrepresented communities.

2. Tell us about your role in the Oracle Cloud Solutions Hub.

I’m a cloud solution engineer on the custom applications and integration team. In this role, I primarily consult for our mid-market and enterprise customers who are looking to build out custom solutions on Oracle cloud by integrating two or more Oracle or non-Oracle applications.

3. What type of emerging technologies are you working with?

In the hub, I also lead our IoT and Robotics birds-of-a-feather community. My unique background in medical device engineering has helped me take on (and bring others up to speed on) our IoT and streaming analytics suite of services. Just last year, I spearheaded the development of an IoT demo solution for cardiac arrhythmia monitoring that showcased Oracle’s strength in streaming analytics, application Integration, and API management.

This was a demo, along with some machine learning and AI projects, that my colleagues and I got to showcase to Executive Vice President, Rich Geraffo, and then CEO, Mark Hurd. Subsequently, we were chosen by senior leaders to present this to an audience of more than 50 domestic and international reporters at Oracle’s global Media Day 2019, for which we got an overwhelmingly positive response from the larger tech community.

4. Why is diversity so important to Oracle? How do you experience it in your own role?
I think for Oracle the importance of diversity is in our ability to re-invent and continuously innovate.

The hubs, for example, are a mix of people from a wide variety of backgrounds and life experiences. I come from a device engineering background, and there are colleagues in the hub with computer science, cognitive science, and even history degrees. Our ability to consistently deliver for our customers and produce cutting edge solutions is a result of our investment in the diversity of our employees and our inclusiveness of different perspectives.

5. What's it like to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community at Oracle?

It continues to be a personally and professionally rewarding experience. This experience is perhaps best reflected in some of the amazing/outstanding events we’ve done and I’ve been privileged to lead.

For example, just last October, in Santa Monica, we partnered with the Los Angeles Pride ERG chapters of Amazon (Glamazon), Microsoft (GLEAM), Grindr, and Out in Tech Los Angeles to host a “Breaking into Tech” panel event that aimed to share industry tips for making it in the tech industry. The event, which saw over 200 registrants, was targeted especially to queer minority students (especially minority students of color) and saw great attendance from both students and professionals alike.

Also, as part of last year’s National Coming Out Day Celebration, Oracle Santa Monica also partnered with the Red Cross Organization to host a local blood drive. We used the blood donation event to spotlight the need for A, B, and O blood types while highlighting the challenges still faced by the LGBTQ+ community in regards to blood donation. Our blood drive saw 46 units of blood collected; the equivalent of 138 lives saved.

Most recently, we had a 24 hour of Pride event, which saw North America, Latin America, and our Europe, Middle East, and Asia (EMEA) groups, come together to do 24 hours of programming for Pride.

All of the aforementioned impact and programs to connect and uplift others in the LGBTQ+ community has been so much more that I initially hoped to achieve and makes it all the more rewarding.

Tilden Chima with colleague at the Oracle blood drive

6. How have you seen Oracle embrace diversity and inclusion?

I think Oracle’s embracement of diversity and inclusion is most evident in its policies and benefits.

For example, when it comes to LGBTQ+ benefits, Oracle provides same-sex partner medical benefits and transgender benefits in many countries.

And we keep pushing the envelope. Just recently, thanks to a larger OPEN initiative for gender-neutral restrooms, Oracle passed a policy which led to the verbiage “Restrooms for All” being put on single use restrooms (stalls) across all Oracle properties in the US.

The hope now is to extend this to non-Oracle owned properties, in Santa Monica, and perhaps even outside the US.

7. How does OPEN support your own engagement?

OPEN supports my engagement through its large professional network.

We are currently more than 43 chapters in 21 countries across our 4 main business regions with close to 3000 registered members. In Santa Monica alone, we’ve built the community from just 2 members to currently 91 members strong. There is never a shortage of faces to say hi to and partner with.

8. What is your mission as chapter lead?

It is not lost on me that as a black, gay man who graduated top of his class, was the flag bearer for his graduating class, and is now working out and proud as an engineer in one of the most prestigious companies in the tech industry, I am essentially a unicorn.

Stories like mine are just not seen. And when they are seen, they are often not told.

This is why my personal mission as a black, gay and proud LGBTQ+ employee is to increase the number of minority employees, especially in the LGBTQ community, who succeed professionally and are poised to positively impact their communities.

In all the major events our chapter did whether it was working with our amazing US Diversity and Inclusion team to sponsor organizations such as Project Angel Food or collaborating with key Oracle executives and our Oracle Latinos Alliance to host a professional development panel for new hires, this mission has always been at the forefront.

Tilden Chima presenting on diversity in tech with Oracle Latinos Alliance and OPEN employee resource groups

9. Congrats on Santa Monica OPEN being an “Outie Finalist” for New ERG Chapter of the Year! Why do you feel your chapter earned this recognition as a top employee resource group?

First, let me start by saying, on behalf of my fellow community members, that we are immensely humbled and honored to be chosen as one of 3 honorees for New ERG Chapter of the Year out of 700+ companies attending worldwide. We are the only US-based chapter to make the final three and that means a lot to us.

Without a doubt, this recognition is a reflection of the strength of the work we’ve done at Oracle and Santa Monica in regards to LGBTQ+ education, empowerment, professional development and community outreach.

Our uniqueness as a chapter is in the fact that the majority of our chapter's core ERG team are queer, young, passionate employees with only a few years of career/corporate experience under our belts. Yet, we have taken what we learned from past experiences running queer and minority student groups in our different colleges and previous jobs, picked up more than a few lessons from the trailblazers ahead of us in the workplace, and actively won over the minds and hearts of our peers and leaders alike to drive quantifiable change in our workplace.

10. October 11 is recognized as National Coming Out Day. Do you have any personal reflection or advice for any of our readers?

Our Santa Monica story is proof that any group of employees can drive real change—irrespective of their position on the corporate totem pole.

Making a bold impact is not a question of how much funding you have or how many executives/managers you can get to initially co-sponsor. All it really takes is passion, authenticity a willingness to learn, and determination to create an environment where all feel comfortable, connected and cherished.

So, my advice is simple – Be You. Be True. Dare to Dream.

Do you want to follow in Tiden’s footsteps and join a company where you can be true to who you are, enact real change, and succeed in your career? We’re hiring for a diverse range of roles around the world. Explore our career opportunities and create the future with us.

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