BNY Mellon Models Collaboration as Key to Innovation and Success

A primary outcome of our Autism Advantage program is in having taught our students to effectively use their autistic traits as an advantage in the workplace. Doing so allows them utilize their unique perspectives, experiences, and talents to help their employers and teammates solve for complex problems. Innovative environments require many perspectives. Teaching our students how to use their skills to collaborate and compliment the skills of others helps grow innovative environments along with their own career success.

Two weeks ago, data analytic students from our most recent Autism Advantage class visited the BNY Mellon Silicon Valley Innovation Center in Palo Alto. This allowed our students to understand and anticipate new trends in data application. More importantly, it modeled for them how innovative environments thrive by fostering collaboration between different skill sets.

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Joyce Peacock, BNY Mellon Silicon Valley Innovation Center Engagement Director, provides an overview of the company to data analytic students of the Autism Advantage program.

Joy Peacock, BNY Mellon Innovation Center Engagement Director, provided our Autism Advantage students with an overview of the work of BNY Mellon since its first component was founded by Alexander Hamilton in 1784. Peacock also detailed how the company intersects with the technology sector and how BNY Mellon utilizes its Silicon Valley Innovation Center to conduct applied research and leverage open source and techniques to deliver strategic components for the BNY Mellon digital cloud. Like all innovative environments, collaboration between skill sets and diverse perspectives is key to its success.

Emphasizing the center’s collaborative process was Prakash Arunchalam, Lead Data Scientist for BNY Mellon. Arunchalam demonstrated the growth of data application into new areas, and how successful employees are ones who are skilled in translating the work of one area (such as data) into solutions for a variety of projects and departments. Arunchalam did this by providing our Autism Advantage students with an overview of machine learning along with a thumbnail perspective of how his team combines advanced machine learning and optimization techniques with “big data” to develop innovative financial services products for their clients.

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BNY Mellon Lead Data Scientist Prakash Arunachalam demonstrates concepts of machine learning and data utilization for data analytic students of the Autism Advantage program.

The session with BNY Mellon was held immediately ahead of a MeetUp event in the center convened by the Silicon Valley Financial Services Cloud Meetup Group. Founded in 2014, the group connects professionals across a broad spectrum of technology to share ideas, learn from subject matter experts, and track technology pertinent to modern financial services clouds. That evening, the group hosted a panel discussion on deep learning with Umair Akeel (Partner at CTO at Bessemer Venture Partners), Vivek Kumar (Director of the Advanced Technology Group at Dolby), and Dr. Adrian Kaehler (Founder of the Silicon Valley Deep Learning Group). There, our Autism Advantage students listened to how each panelist used their experiences to train and grow talent in deep learning.

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Autism Advantage students join the Silicon Valley Financial Services Cloud Meetup group to listen to a panel on the development of deep learning.

Our Autism Advantage students also leveraged their time at BNY Mellon to gain additional knowledge through informally networking with members of the Silicon Valley Financial Services Cloud Meetup Group along with BNY Mellon employees. Meeting future industry colleagues allowed them to model best practices and grow connections which will allow them to mature as employees throughout their career. Thank you to BNY Mellon and to the Silicon Valley Financial Services Cloud group for hosting us. The small investment of time you gave to our Autism Advantage students ensures that their future employers will one day be able to thank you as well.


bikeride1Hey! Our friend Kenneth is riding his bike this July for 100 miles from Washington, DC to the Atlantic Ocean. He decided to do this on his own to raise awareness and funds to train autistic adults through Autism Advantage. We think that’s awesome and hope you do to. You can support his effort by clicking here. Check it out!

County Federal Taps Autism Advantage as Wise Investment

No more charity, please. At Autism Advantage, we’re all about wise investments. One of the things I’ve loved most about basing our program in Silicon Valley is the ease at which the technology sector understands autistic workforce development as a crucial investment rather than as a charity.

For over 65 years, County Federal (Santa Clara County Federal Credit Union) has supported the rapid growth of Silicon Valley by providing financial solutions to the educators and service providers supporting the technology sector. County Federal is a credit union that understands the importance of financial independence and community investment, and we are excited to welcome them as our most recent community partner.

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County Federal’s commitment to Autism Advantage was witnessed by tech executives from across Silicon Valley at our most recent commencement ceremony. There, credit union representative Rachael Moreno stood alongside our data analytics training program graduates as she presented the program with a direct funding check on behalf of County Federal. However, County Federal’s investment in our students doesn’t end there. Like many of the executives in the room, County Federal has also provided input and feedback to students as they’ve sharpened their data presentation skills. That’s been crucial to their success.

We tremendously thank County Federal for the funding and coaching which the credit union has provided. We are also thrilled that County Federal will be deepening their investment in our program by providing financial literacy and financial independence coaching to students in future training cohorts. That’s huge. Autistic adults and their families routinely report financial independence and independent living as top concerns, yet few resources exist to help them solve for them.

Working with County Federal, we’re able to leverage their expertise in order to increase the return they’ve invested in our students. A small investment at the front-end of an autistic person’s career will scale to success throughout their entire life.


bikeride1Hey! Our friend Kenneth is riding his bike this July for 100 miles from Washington, DC to the Atlantic Ocean. He decided to do this on his own to raise awareness and funds to train autistic adults through Autism Advantage. We think that’s awesome and hope you do to. You can support his effort by clicking here. Check it out!

Going Beyond Graduation

In most commencement ceremonies, you can find a reference to how the word commencement means ‘a beginning’, That was certainly true for our most recent Autism Advancement commencement ceremony held this past Friday. However, unlike the majority of commencement ceremonies where it is often shared as a trope, we really do mean it.

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Some of our most recent Autism Advantage graduates prior to the arrival of guests for the commencement ceremony.

We graduated nine incredibly talented individuals from our Autism Advantage program last Friday. Over the past six weeks, they used our program to sharpen their data analytical skills while mastering approaches to successful workplace navigation. The commencment ceremony was held in an overflowing room filled with friends and family members of graduates as well as representatives from many of the companies we work with including Box, Citibank, EY, Mastercard, Symantec, and Visa. Representatives from Stanford University also attended, along with Santa Clara County Federal Credit Union, who presented the program with a donation towards future training cohorts.

Just as it would be an understatement to say that our team is incredibly proud of our graduates, it would also be an understatement to say that our graduates’ participation in the Autism Advantage program is limited to just six weeks of our core training. Like a commencement, the six weeks that Autism Advantage trainees spend in our classroom is only the beginning.

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Three recent Autism Advantage graduates present their final data project for review before commencement. A core component of the program is sharpening existing hard skills.

Autism Advantage continues to work with individuals far beyond their graduation from our training program. Upon commencement, we work with each individual to move them into quality employment. That includes interview preparation, placement, and support once hired. Once hired, Autism Advantage continues to work both with the individual and their new employer to assist and ensure that both develop the parameters they need for both parties to succeed.

As this program grows, we are incorporating new ways to grow opportunities for autistic adults. This includes fostering platforms which allow our graduates to connect with, and learn from, each other. That’s important. Learning occurs both in-and-out of the classroom. Growth occurs far beyond graduation. That’s why we are using our Autism Advantage program to help build support, learning opportunities, and autistic community within professional environments long after our trainees leave our classroom. Commencement means “a beginning” and that is the approach we are taking in Autism Advantage.


bikeride1Hey! Our friend Kenneth is riding his bike this July for 100 miles from Washington, DC to the Atlantic Ocean. He decided to do this on his own to raise awareness and funds to train autistic adults through Autism Advantage. We think that’s awesome and hope you do to. You can support his effort by clicking here. Check it out!