Skills, Both Soft & Hard, Lead to Success in STEM — In Conversation with Dr. Vanessa G. Hall

Inspiration And Insights
4 min readJun 12, 2024


According to recent research by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in STEM occupations has grown by 79 percent in the last 30 years — and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. But, while the demand for a workforce well-trained in STEM continues to grow, Black, Hispanic and women workers continue to be underrepresented in those industries.

Today we are in conversation with Dr. Vanessa G. Hall, a business owner and leader in the field of Information Technology. Dr. Hall is passionate about the need for leaders like herself to mentor young people in STEM literacy. Today, she is explaining her work as a STEM coach.

You’ve been working as a STEM coach for many years now. What drew you to the field in the first place, and how have you seen it evolve?

Technology is evolving so quickly that even at my experience level, we must be continuous learners and interject professional development weekly. Everything relates to STEM now. When I started this coaching, it used to be that people wanted to be engineers or something very technical like code. But now, STEM is a basic skill set for survival.

As a STEM coach, we have a program called STEM UP for EQUITY with a very popular component called “The Inner Win”. The message of having the heart to win is resounded in every setting of our lives, we have to start introspectively before moving forward. We delve into processing the wins that happen on the inside, not just the external successes, because that’s what presses you to succeed, to become whatever you want in life. The students and early career professionals that go through this program come out knowing what they love — that may be a path different from their initial position entering the program. We help them to discover “THAT” thing which will keep them passionate all day; otherwise, they may not be fulfilled. Being conscious of the choices we make is critical to truly winning within. One of my favorite quotes is “Every Choice in life either moves you forward or keeps you stuck”. ~Oprah Winfrey

So you approach STEM coaching from a holistic perspective?

“Yes! We have to do that. Young people today need guidance and support to develop the necessary tools to succeed professionally. I grew up in a very disenfranchised area and had limited resources. My parents were a constant force to guide me but corporate mentors were nonexistent in my career seeking. Being an African American female in technology, I had to press extremely hard to find mentors and advocates. Every moment felt like I was always digging to find my way through. My experiences have created a passion to remove those roadblocks for the next generation. I want the next generation to realize we are here to help. In addition to the academia portion of the program, we are here to expose them to opportunities, include them in critical conversations, and make sure they have the tools, community, and expertise readily available for tangible progression. We desire to build a trust bond by investing our time, providing our expertise and knowledge, and holding them accountable to accomplish their defined goals.

The big concern for most underrepresented communities is financial support and exposure and you can’t reach people if their basic needs are not met. So we can’t just talk to them about this great future if they think they will not have the financial support or the decision-making advocates they can access for their future. Instead, we prepare them with the right skill sets, both the soft and the hard. Things like how to present yourself, how to properly handshake, the power of eye contact, and how to bring your authentic self to the table. We also stress exposure to opportunities, even if they can’t afford college. We explain all available options so they have the information necessary to make an intelligent decision. There are currently a lot of technology jobs that you can start upon graduating high school via certifications. Some corporations are willing to hire High School graduates with professional certifications and will support the financial burden of continuing education. We teach them about scholarships and how to apply effectively for results. We hone in on the power of following up and sincere relationships. Our coaching includes practical relatable steps because we want everyone to leave understanding what are next steps. Our goal is for everyone to leave the experience with a roadmap for success and we take time to instruct individuals on ways to adjust their roadmap because we all know “life be life-ing”, but we must build a core of perseverance WITHIN to never stop pressing forward!

Thank you for sharing your insights, Vanessa!

More about Vanessa: Dr. Vanessa G. Hall is an accomplished Information Technology (IT) professional with more than 24 years of experience worldwide. She is the owner of Crossroads Information Technology Group (IT Group). Dr. Hall has a proven ability to implement change while building productive and trust-based relationships.

Connect with Vanessa G. Hall on LinkedIn