Jamaica’s Kamilah Taylor, a senior software engineer at LinkedIn, has been ranked at Number 42 on Business Insider’s list of the 43 most powerful female engineers for 2017. The list was compiled in honor of National Engineer’s Week, which runs from February 19 through 25. LinkedIn is a popular social networking site for professionals and has more than 380 million members around the world. Taylor has worked on many major projects at LinkedIn, such as rewriting its major app, messaging, infrastructure and the LinkedIn Learning iOS app.
Taylor attended Mona Prep in Jamaica until Grade 5, receiving her first introduction to computer programming there. Her family then moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where she attended Holcomb Bridge Middle School and North Springs High School, a magnet school for the sciences and performing arts. She focused on advanced math and science and was president of her maths team. She returned to Jamaica after high school and spent a year at Campion College before entering the University of the West Indies, studying maths and computer science. After graduation, Taylor went on to earn a Masters degree in computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, specializing in robotics. Her first job at Wolfram Research convinced her that she like software engineering, so she applied for work at LinkedIn in 2011 and was hired in 2012. She has spoken at several industry meetups and conferences, including IEEE’s International Conference for Robotics and Automation, the Grace Hopper Conference, and the Swift Language User Group (SLUG) meetup.
Her parents still live in Jamaica, where her father Ashley Hamilton-Taylor, who is originally from Portland, teaches computer science at the University of the West Indies. Her mother is from Accompong and teaches at St. Andrew’s Prep. Taylor’s younger sister attended Immaculate and is now at Columbia University in New York, also studying computer science with a minor in materials engineering.
Taylor cites her Jamaican roots for giving her the determination she needed to get a job in Silicon Valley. “I think that Jamaicans have this belief that we can do whatever we want, and it doesn’t really matter if the odds are against us or that we’re a small island,” she stated. Taylor still loves Jamaica and has visited the home island twice in 2017 already. She remembers growing up in the country with her mother’s family in Accompong and St. James. “Nothing like a Doctor’s Cave beach day or some mannish water!” she said.
In the future, Taylor would like to start her own company and do more with science in technology in Jamaica. She believes there are many Jamaicans in the Diaspora who are doing important things and that this energy can be harnessed back home. She and her sister plan to open a STEM research center in Jamaica some day. She also hopes to encourage more Jamaican girls to take advantage of the opportunities available in the technology field.
The 43 powerful women engineers on the list are from a broad spectrum areas in the field including developers, designers, engineering directors, bioscientists, nuclear scientist and rocket scientists.