June 27 2019

2019 Tech Award Winner Profile: Annmarie Lanesey

CEG’s 2019 Tech Awards will be held on Thursday, June 27 from 4:30 – 7:30pm at Rivers Casino
in Schenectady. Join 100s in celebrating our region’s brightest minds, innovators, researchers, technologists and organizations making a difference in our community and beyond by advancing technology across multiple industry sectors that affect our lives.

2019 Technology Trailblazer: Annmarie Lanesey

When Annmarie Lanesey was taking a course at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Human Factors in Design, which explores the cultural and psychological impacts on human-machine interactions, a few things about the class culture stuck out. She noticed there were very few women in the class and that about a third of its students had a natural aptitude for computer coding, compared to others who, like herself, could learn it with effort, or some others who completely struggled with it.

It was years after Lanesey received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from RPI in 2001 and 2004 that she realized the significance of these observations. Lanesey spent her first four years out of college as a consultant for a firm involved in Deutsche Bank’s 9/11-related $6 billion disaster recovery lawsuit. Then in 2008, she started her own software consulting firm. For her custom software development company, Greane Tree Technology Group, she hired a software developer who had learned to code through the traditional four-year college route and another who had a couple of months of self-taught experience. The self-taught developer’s ability to perform as well as the one with the degree reminded Lanesey about the natural aptitude to learn to code she had observed in certain students and the underrepresentation she had noticed back in college.

“People are walking around our community with the aptitude for software sector jobs, yet they have no idea they have that ability.  There are tons of jobs out there, and these are high-paying jobs” said Lanesey, a North Greenbush native.

With that a lightbulb went off and the idea came for what would become her next venture, Albany Can Code Inc., which has earned her the Technology Trailblazer Award at the Center for Economic Growth’s 23rd Annual Technology Awards. 

In summer 2016, Lanesey launched Albany Can Code, a nonprofit dedicated to supplying the Capital Region’s talent pipeline for software, data and information technology firms with talent from non-traditional backgrounds. The mission is to shift mindset about who can work in technology, remove cultural and economic barriers to joining the tech workforce, and establish and promote pathways to tech careers throughout the region. This includes women and minorities and others who had never matriculated in college computer science degree programs. Some of Albany Can Code’s most gifted students have included, a trumpet player, an ex-marine and an education administrator.

With support from CEG, the Workforce Development Institute, KeyBank, the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership and the Capital Region Economic Development Council, Albany Can Code has expanded now offering courses in partnership with Hudson Valley Community College, Schenectady County Community College and SUNY Adirondack. Albany Can Code will soon be providing training for one of New York State’s first software development apprenticeship programs. The nonprofit offers classes in Front End Wed Development, JavaScript Frameworks, Automated Web Testing and SQL/ETL. Albany Can Code has gone from having nine students in 2016 to so far 53 this year, with two-thirds of them being women.

In many cases, program graduates have gone from working in warehouses, bars and temp agencies to earning $45,000 to more than $62,000 in software positions. Not all of Albany Can Code’s students are coders. Some are, like Lanesey, what the software industry calls a “scrummaster.” These are individuals with knowledge of the technology and who facilitates a team of software developers to ensure its work aligns with the demands of customers and delivers the user experience they desire.

For Lanesey, technology is a tool for innovation, community development and economic empowerment. Looking forward, Albany Can Code is poised to expand the program into other regions across the state.

  • – James Schlett, CEG director of research & communications

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