Celebrating Black History Month: What Does It Mean to You?
By Rae Evans, Brand Manager
In celebration of Black History Month, Rae Evans, Brand Manager, sat down with Senior Product Manager, Wole Olusola to discuss his career journey, his biggest inspiration, and how he feels we encourage more diversity and representation within the tech community.
Nigerian-born Wole moved to the UK in his childhood. He has been part of the Axiologik squad for two years and has worked on some of our most impactful projects, such as the passenger locator form, during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Wole prides himself on owning the product and its strategic roadmap, delivering world-class user experience by adding value to our clients using lean agile processes.
Wole, how did you get into tech?
After completing my degree in Computer Science at Leeds Metropolitan University, I worked at Phones4U as a Store Manager. I enjoy collaborating and believe I have brilliant interpersonal skills, so working with people comes naturally to me. So, I felt doing a masters in HR would be a great pathway into working with people. Straight after finishing my Master's, I bagged myself my first job, which funnily enough happened to be in tech at World Pay, as a Business Analyst.
You have been working in the tech sector now for 10 years, what do you like about working in tech?
When I was a child, I had this vision of being a pilot, but I realised that vision would not be possible, as I am scared of heights! After completing my GCSE's, I enrolled at the Leeds Technology College. I have always possessed a real passion for computers; growing up, there weren't any black role models in tech that I can say I looked up to, but I did admire Bill Gates.
Have you experienced any discrimination in your role?
Looking back, I don't feel I have experienced direct racism. However, on one of my very first projects, which was working on a very high-profile digital transformation project, I experienced quite a lot of unconscious bias. I did not feel my skill sets were being utilised, leaving me feeling undervalued and unaccepted.
However, growing up, one experience has stuck with me; I wanted to go and play football, but I did not know how to get there. I explained to the bus driver and told him the place, and he responded with, "Do you want to go to the immigration office?"
What black role models inspire you?
My biggest inspiration is Will Smith because he is admirable, talented, and tenacious. His skill set is diverse, and I have always admired him because he empowers me to feel like I can be the best version of myself.
My second is my father because he is the most hard-working person. He is so persistent, committed, and resilient, many traits I hope have been instilled in me. I want to inspire my children, the way he has inspired me.
How do you feel, we can we encourage more diversity in tech?
Awareness. I was unaware of the experience I shared earlier around unconscious bias.IfI had identified it earlier, I could have spoken up, made changes, and called out those for their actions and mistreatment, equipping people for the future and educating others.
People aspire to be what they can see. There is a real lack of black leaders within the tech and digital sector.I saw a statistic recently by McKinsey that just 3% of technology executives in C-suite positions are black. There have been many occasions I have attended digital events and been the minority, which is why community groups such as BYP are so powerful. However, the lack of representation can discourage black people from applying for leadership roles or continuing to pursue a tech career.
From my perspective and drawing on my own experiences, we can start dismantling systemic inequalities within the tech industry by addressing unconscious bias and systemic inequalities and working together as a collective.
Lastly, I advise anyone even considering a career in tech to believe in yourself. Without self-belief, you won't get far. While you may get discouraged at times, you need to remain optimistic. There is always outside help for those who need a safety net to cushion any falls, but most of all, everyone has the power to be who they wish to be or do what they want to do.
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