Black Tech Night at F5 Tower Ignites Inspiration

IGNITE Worldwide Program Director, Lauren Johnson (right) with F5 Chief Product Officer, Kara Sprauge (left)

In the heart of Seattle, the F5 Tower recently hosted an evening highlighting innovation led by diversity. Black Tech Night, part of a series dedicated to inclusivity in the tech industry, fulfilled its promise to “bring together the local Black tech community and allies to connect, learn, and celebrate successes.”

IGNITE Worldwide’s Program Director, Lauren Johnson, attended the December 5th event, a collaborative effort by the City of Seattle and F5FAB (F5 Appreciates Blackness), which featured a night of networking, showcasing local Black artists and Black-owned businesses, and meaningful conversations.

The event was headlined by a conversation with F5’s CEO, François Locoh-Donou, moderated by Janine Rubenstein of People magazine.

François shared his remarkable journey, from his upbringing in Togo, West Africa, to leading a major tech company. The narrative unfolded with tales of hurdles, successes, rejections, and invaluable lessons that carved the path to leadership. The takeaways were eye-opening for those navigating their own professional journeys:

Rejection is a Force Pushing You to Do Something Bigger:

François spoke of rejection not as a roadblock but as a catalyst for growth. The setbacks, he emphasized, are the stepping stones to something greater.

Leverage Your Adversity Quotient as a Huge Strength:

Adversity is not a foe; it’s an ally. The ability to turn challenges into strengths, known as the Adversity Quotient, emerged as a theme throughout the conversation.

Your Career is a Sprint, Not a Marathon:

Be prepared to capitalize on those pivotal “moments of truth” that define and shape your professional trajectory.

Ideal Qualities of Tech Leaders:

François underscored the importance of leading not just with expertise but with character: Humility, generosity, and courage

Win by Inspiring Passion and Commitment:

Success is not merely about the talent you have on your team; it’s about inspiring passion and commitment within that talent.

Amidst his advice and insight, François shared his optimism about the future of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the tech sector. He believes the younger generation’s demand for inclusive organizations is a force that will help reshape the landscape for the better.

“It was amazing to be in such an uplifting space where everyone genuinely wants to support each other and share resources to support the larger community,” Johnson said.

On the heels of an inspiring evening, we look forward to our first IGNITE Field Trip with F5 in January 2024! 

About IGNITE Worldwide

IGNITE Worldwide is a 501(c)3 nonprofit STEM education organization that aims to change gender and racial equity in STEM permanently and systematically. We work directly with teachers during the school day to provide programming that promotes gender equity and representation in STEM academics and careers. Through our award-winning program, IGNITE provides engaging, hands-on events that connect students with STEM professionals from industry leaders from around the world. Learn more at