Black History Month at Facebook

I attended a black history month event at Facebook, yes you read that correctly, a black history month event at Facebook.

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Let’s talk about it!

It’s a pretty interesting time writing this blog post considering Mark Zuckerberg was recently grilled by REP. Joyce Beatty regarding Civil Rights.

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However, this post is not about me adding in my two pence. I’m here to tell you all about the spectacular event that BAME professionals working at Facebook delivered.

I feel like Black History Month in the UK has now become somewhat of a tick boxing exercise. The Facebook event left me feeling inspired, empowered and happy to be in a room filled with 500 black people in Tech.

Myself and @XetsX at the boomerang booth

The theme for the event was ‘Unlock your Superpower’.

The event took place at the Facebook office, we were greeted with rum punch upon arrival and I instantly gazed at how beautifully designed the room was. There were black businesses with mini stands selling items such as: traditional African clothing, Bags, and Basketweavers from Senegal. It was evident that a lot of thought and effort went into ensuring that this was a meaningful event.

The keynote speaker for the evening was Ric Lewis, Chairman & Co-Chief Executive of Tristan Capital Partners.

Admittedly, I had not previously heard of Ric or his company, but wow was I amazed at the valuable points he provided.

Here are a few key points I jotted down:

This really resonated with me. We are all a walking brand and it is up to us, as individuals to bring out the best in ourselves. I didn’t really succumb to the idea of being a brand until this year and that’s when I started investing in myself.

2.

It is verrrrry easy for us as humans to compare our journey with someone else’s. It can be second nature sometimes but we are all unique in the sense that we have our own superpowers/USP and we need to develop what resides within us.

3.

The next speaker was Paulette Rowe, Head of Payments and Financial Services Partnerships at Facebook. Paulette was the 2017 honouree in the PaymentsSource Top 25 Most Influential Women in Payments.

It was very refreshing for a senior black woman in tech to speak to us about unlocking our superpowers. We are all aware that the number of women in tech is very low. I really appreciate Paulette paying it forward by speaking to a room of underrepresented people in tech, this was very encouraging. Representation matters.

I managed to very briefly speak to Paulette during the event. She asked about my current career and spoke encouraging words regarding my potential transition into tech. Paulette also mentioned she previously worked at Barclays and I was totally fangirling!

It was time for a break and I did a bit of mingling, well what I really mean is drinking.

Next up was a panel event hosted by Adwoa Baah, a Content Strategist at Facebook. The speakers were:

  • Izzy Obeng, Founder, FounderVine.
  • Vanessa Sanyauke, Founder, Girl’s Talk London
  • Kike Oniwinde, CEO, BYP Network
  • Ric Lewis, Chairman & Co-Chief Executive of Tristan Capital Partners.

The panel spoke to us about using our Power and Privilege. My main takeaway was; we should focus on developing our superpowers and use them as leverage in job interviews, pitching to venture capitalists and starting a start-up.

An audience member asked a very good question in regards to being turned down by Venture Capitalist for funding. The shared response from the panel was that we will be told ‘no’ countless amount of times. However, we should keep it moving because there are individuals out there who could potentially be our ‘yes’.

The evening ended with brief talks from individuals who are doing great work in tech and for the community:

  • Ashleigh Ainsley, Co-Founder, COLORINTECH
  • Rommel Wallace, Co-Founder, SERIOUS ABOUT YOUTH
  • Raphael Sofoluke, Founder, UK BLACK BUSINESS SHOW

I encourage you all to check out the great work they’re doing!

The event was nothing short of a success. I really hope more organisations in tech put on Black History Month events. I believe events like this really push the needle as it connects likeminded underrepresented people of color in tech with recruiters, coders, VC firms and a community.

That’s all from me folks!

Follow me on Twitter @MillennialRach

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