Riviera Partners Data Science Team Receives Prestigious National Science Foundation C-Accel Award

Riviera Granted up to $1 Million for Application That Puts Women and First-Generation College Grads on Guided Path to STEM Careers

SAN FRANCISCO – Sep. 11, 2019 – Riviera Partners, a leading retained search firm specializing in placements of executive leadership in engineering, product and design talent, today announced that its data science team has been given the prestigious Convergence Accelerator (C-Accel) award by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Riviera, partnering with the University of Virginia Economics department, received the grant for its proposal to build an AI-powered application that can help people successfully navigate STEM, with a focus on developing a long-term career trajectory in tech. The tool, which builds on Riviera’s proprietary algorithms against thousands of technology candidates and hiring insights, will study the role of individual characteristics such as education, skillset, peer self-assessment and others to guide peoples’ career planning. The solution has the potential to impact U.S. labor supply by addressing the increasing demand for technology talent, which has resulted from the rapid digitization and automation of the labor market. It can help bridge the gender and diversity gaps in the high-tech industry by better equipping women, minorities and underrepresented groups in developing a successful technology career path.

A Path for Workers Seeking 21st Century Skills

In the next few years, 140,000 IT jobs will be left unfilled (1). Only 26 percent of the software engineering workforce were women in 2018 (2), only 2.2 percent of first-generation graduates major in Computer Science (3), only 3.41 percent of software engineering degrees are awarded to Hispanics, and only 1.3 percent of degrees are awarded to people who identify as black or African American. There are slightly more Asian graduates at 8.7 percent (4). The Riviera NSF project aims to change those percentages, giving more women and minorities a path to break in to high-demand tech careers, closing the tech skills gap. 

"We believe that anyone can achieve anything if the path and direction are clear,” said Tammy Wang, VP of Data Science and Engineering at Riviera Partners. “There are large populations in the US that don’t know where and how to start a technology career.  Riviera will work with nonprofit organizations to reach out to these communities to make sure our tool is easy to use and gives them perspectives that are practical, feasible, and that can transform their career trajectory. Data science and technology can make life better for everyone, and we are on a journey to help the tech field be more diverse to bring opportunities to more people.”

As a funder of research and education across all fields of science and engineering and with relationships with universities and funding agencies around the world, NSF is uniquely positioned to pilot this approach to accelerate discovery and innovation. NSF C-Accel brings teams together to focus on grand challenges of national importance that require a convergence approach. The teams are multidisciplinary and leverage partnerships; the tracks relate to a grand challenge problem and have a high probability of resulting in deliverables that will benefit society within a fixed term. NSF C-Accel is modeled on acceleration and innovation activities from the most forward-looking companies and universities. Rivera’s project was chosen as part of the C-Accel National Talent Ecosystem track, the ultimate goal of which is to support research and development leading to innovative approaches for employers to support workers seeking the skills required for 21st century work related to AI, data science, predictive analytics, and other technologies of the future.

Riviera matches top engineering and product talent with tech innovators.  Having worked with nearly half of the Tech Unicorns, serving hundreds of clients, placing thousands of tech execs, and working with the most influential VC and PE firms in the business, Riviera already leverages its proprietary AI-driven technology to reduce hiring risks and deliver better candidates to its clients. Through Riviera’s platform, called Sutro, recruiting partners leverage the collective experience of the entire firm, have access to historical, enriched, and real-time data and can leverage machine learning-derived signals, scores, and success factors run against two decades of recruiting process data, With the National Science Foundation grant, Riviera will use its technology to identify and illustrate the typical career paths for engineers, tech product managers and designers, revealing candidate likelihood of achieving overall career goals. When released, the app will be free and available to the public.

“Our data science team is one of the best in the world, and this award is a testament to their amazing talent and innovative thinking,” said Will Hunsinger, CEO of Riviera partners. “Our technology platform is crucial to our ability to place highly skilled technology leaders at the world’s leading companies, and now, thanks to this support from the National Science Foundation, we’ll be able to apply our technology and accumulated knowledge to help more underrepresented people navigate successful tech careers.” 

About Riviera Partners

Riviera Partners is a key driver of innovation for today’s most influential companies by expertly placing executive talent in the crucial areas of software engineering, product management and design. By combining nearly two decades of recruiting expertise with a proprietary platform that uses machine learning to score and predict the best candidate for a company's specific needs, Riviera is the go-to talent partner for leading venture capitalists and technology innovators. Learn more about what Riviera Partners can do for your business at www.rivierapartners.com 

  1. Talent Gap Widens
  2. Women in Technology, May 2019
  3. NACE Journal, November 2016
  4. DataUSA.io

Our Quest to Bridge the Diversity Gap

National Science Foundation Grant to Contribute to National Talent Ecosystem in STEM

As a tech recruiting firm in the heart of Silicon Valley, we have a front row view of how skewed the supply and demand are in tech recruiting. Qualified candidates in software engineering or data science can walk away with multiple offers within a few weeks with a compensation package that makes you wonder, “How can the companies ever make progress at this level of talent shortage and cost?" Yet, we also know that this hot talent market is remarkably skewed with gender, racial and socio-economic background. Only twenty-six percent of the software engineering workforce were women in 2018[1], only 2.2% of first generation graduates major in Computer Science[2], and only 3.41% of software engineering degrees are awarded to Hispanics, only 1.3% degrees are awarded to people who identify as black or African American. There are slightly more Asian graduates at 8.7%.[3] The data makes you wonder whether we could have a better talent supply if the STEM field could be more inclusive. In the big picture, this talent shortage signifies a warning signal that the effort in innovation and shifting to AI-powered digitization will be limited by a growing shortage of qualified talent.

As a recruiting firm with a strong Data Science and Technology focus, we really wanted to help. Partnering with University of Virginia Economics department, supported by the Convergence Accelerator awards from the National Science Foundation, Riviera is starting the journey of building an AI-powered application that can help people successfully navigate STEM careers with a focus on developing a long term success in tech. This application brings insights backed by Riviera Partners’ success in tech recruiting with thousands of successful placements, across the U.S. over two decades. We’ve captured 18 years of recruiting process data and can identify and illustrate the typical career paths for engineers, tech product managers and designers. The app considers industry trends and reveals a candidate’s likelihood of achieving overall career goals. When released the Riviera app will be free and available to the public.

We believe that anyone can achieve anything if the path and direction are clear. There are large populations in the US that don’t know where and how to start a technology career. There are communities, even in the hotbed of the Bay Area, that don’t have access to the information and network that Silicon Valley employees benefit from naturally. Riviera will work with nonprofit organizations to reach out to these communities to make sure our tool is easy to use and gives them perspectives that are practical, feasible, and that can transform their career trajectory.

We are so excited by this opportunity. We always believe that data science and technology can serve people and make life better for everyone. We believe the tech field can be diverse and bring opportunities to everyone. This is our journey to help.

[1] Women in Technology, May 2019

[2] NACE Journal, November 2016

[3] DataUSA.io