Akua

Tell us about your journey into tech?
When I graduated from university, it was quite difficult to get an IT job. I kept being informed that I lacked experience, and there weren’t as many graduate programmes as there are now. As part of my degree, I completed a 14-month placement at Rolls-Royce Motors Ltd as an IT Infrastructure Support Assistant, but this still didn’t assist with finding a role after graduation. I continued self-learning and working hard to look for the right role.

I decided to apply for a sales advisor role at Carphone Warehouse, as I would be around technology and build my customer service skills, which are important in any industry. After nearly three years working at Carphone Warehouse, I found a first line support role at UK Mission Enterprise and continued my role at Carphone Warehouse part-time for five years alongside other roles to pay off my student loan.

How do you feel you have made a difference in what you do?
In any role that I have worked in, I have always helped improve procedures to make them more standardised and have a seamless process.

In the technology field, there are continual changes and to deliver the best service we have to move with the times. I am very process driven and have compiled technical documentation on configuration of applications and systems that I share with my colleagues and created knowledge articles. Knowledge is power and we should share our knowledge to help others.

What would you say is your biggest achievement?
I have been fortunate to have a few achievements in my life so far, but receiving the CEO Inspiration Award at London Stock Exchange Group for my initiatives in Technology, charity work, volunteering and driving change in the diversity & inclusion networks has been my biggest achievement. This was an award for all the key elements of my life that makes me who I am as a person.

How do you think people can go about making a difference, in regards to spreading awareness of Black Women in tech?
I think we need to see and hear more about the fantastic work of Black women in tech, from Flavilla Fongang, Izzy Obeng at Foundervine, Kike Oniwinde at BYP, Vanessa Sanyauke Girls Talk, Charlene Hunter at Coding Black Females to Kenyadiaries or Frida Nzaba. It is what we do with tech not just in the business world, but how it helps others in charity or volunteering, that is important too.

We want and need to encourage more young girls to get into STEM subjects!

What do you believe are the most effective ways to engage other ethnicities and genders to embrace diversity?
In every organisation, we need to keep having open conversations and change the narrative. Where I work, we had Nova Reid (activist, speaker) assist with listening conversations on anti-racism and allyship. Also attending listening sessions organised by the Korn Ferry Institute following the death of George Floyd in America. Last year, I organised and facilitated events on training staff through “Show Racism the Red Card” to discuss inclusive language and microaggressions. Lastly, we had health experts join us to discuss the different forms of cancer that are more likely to affect the black community.

At my current workplace we have different employee networks ranging from Black Empowered, Women’s Inspired, Multicultural, LGBTQ+, Ability, Parents and Carers, Wellbeing, Charity and religious communities. We provide educational and conversational events that focus not only on career development but also on how we want us as an organisation to grow together and support each other.

It is also important to have conversations with the Executive team and for senior leadership to have that level of understanding and show support to embrace change. How employees embrace diversity should be reflected at all levels of the business and in recruitment.

What is the best advice you ever received?
Be true to yourself and who you are but self-care is important. To help others you need to help yourself.

Two people that I admire and help me through reading their books, I leave the quotes below:

Dr Maya Angelou – Self-care is where you take your power back.

Nelson Mandela – Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

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