As IBM Z’s Chief Penguin, Dr. Melissa Sassi created her own IBM job title, job description, and leads Student & Entrepreneur Experience worldwide within the IBM Z division of IBM. This role includes being the Founder & Global Head of IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator, an IBM program focused on empowering early-stage startups to build and scale via business and technical enablement. Dr. Sassi has 100 startups in her existing portfolio with 40% early-stage fintechs. Dr. Sassi’s Accelerator also includes celebrity Producer & multiple-Grammy award winning startup – Beatclub – Timbaland’s latest music startup.
Dr. Sassi is also a Call for Code Judge – a tech4good hackathon, startup competition, and coding camp rolled into one – focused on solving the world’s wickedest challenges such as climate action via tech innovation.
Prior to IBM, Dr. Sassi was an impact investor at Microsoft focused on building and scaling internet and energy access solutions and bringing digital skills to the newly connected.
As Founder & CEO of MentorNations, Dr. Sassi created a youth-led digital skills movement teaching tens of thousands of youth changemakers to code in twelve countries. Dr. Sassi is Chair of IEEE’s Digital Skills & Readiness Working Group and Founding Member of Coalition for Digital Intelligence with WEF, OECD, IEEE & DQ Institute. She holds several Board positions in digital inclusion nonprofits.
Dr. Sassi’s doctoral research is on the digital inclusion of underserved and underrepresented communities and the tie that access, skills, and utilization of technology play to make meaningful use of the internet. She serves on a UN Round Table for the High-Level Panel for Digital Cooperation, chaired by Jack Ma and Melinda Gates with advisory leadership from Vint Cert – the Father of the Internet. Dr. Sassi is an avid speaker on startup innovation, digital skills and inclusion, tech entrepreneurship, tech4good, community building, youth empowerment, imposter syndrome & personal branding. You can find Dr. Sassi on Twitter at @mentorafrika.