Being a rare Black product exec who identifies trends & develops new tech

Interview date:

February 22, 2021

Martie Burris

Director of Product Management

Martie Burris is Director of Product Development at Salesforce and one of the rare Black people identifying tech trends and creating new tech. She explains what a product manager in the tech industry does and discusses some of the products she has worked on, including pandemic software which is helping businesses operate safely and efficiently during the current pandemic.

"Every CEO of every major tech company was a product manager first...The greatest PM most people would know of was Steve Jobs. The way he would think of the future and what we do and how we interact with software and technology, that is what a product manager does."

"For a long time in football, you'd hear about these great Black quarterbacks. They'd get to the professional level and they'd be put into another position because for so long, we did not see Black people as being capable of leading. Much like how football has a quarterback, technology has a product manager. And because we have this huge job of figuring out what the next big thing is, a lot of the time [Black people] are not celebrated for being technologists, for being innovators. Even though most of the technology we interact with in the world today was either built by, created or designed by Black people."
Martie Burris in live chat with Saleforce CEO Marc Benioff
Martie Burris on graduation day with father


  • Take an interest in innovation: people, inventions, patents, processes.
  • Actively develop leadership and people skills.
  • Seek out mentors who can show you the ropes.