Hello! I am Sinead. I started my tech career at Google in 2014, at the time I joined, there were 54,000 global employees, of which only 648 were black females! This equated to 1.2% of the entire workforce. Being part of the 1.2%, as a minority definitely came with its challenges but I found ways to overcome them and turn them into opportunities. During my time at Google, I co-founded the Afro Google Network (AGN) , an Employee Resource Group which focused on cultivating leaders within the Black Community, transforming technology for the greater good and creating a safe place for minority employees to uncover and bring their authentic true selves to work.
The AGN was a huge success and resulted in an increase in referrals into the company from the black community. We also created mentorship programs, hosted fireside chats, networking events and connected with global Employee Resource Groups to have a seat at the table to contribute to the Diversity and Inclusion retention strategy within the company. As my time progressed within the company, it was there that I discovered the passion to help businesses grow. I started as an Account strategist where I was tasked with ambitious performance goals working with a wide variety of Small and Medium sized Business advertisers delivering optimal advertising solutions.
My passion and understanding of online media grew, I was then promoted into the Large Consumer Sales team where I managed a multi-million dollar portfolio, providing integrated cross-platform advertising solutions to Google’s high value spenders within the Entertainment and FMCG vertical for the UK and Irish market. Hitting my targets and constantly developing I was promoted to a Video Specialist role where I facilitated project planning and delivery of video solutions.
My love for helping businesses achieve their goals ultimately expanded beyond the boundaries of the technology space and into the world of commerce where I founded my own shapewear ecommerce business and left Google to run it full time.
My business was devoted to providing the highest quality Shapewear, Waist Trainers, Gym gear and accessories to the most insightful and quality conscious women of all backgrounds. A large percentage of my customer base also included the LGBTQ community, which expanded my understanding further into the Diversity and Inclusion space. My business donated a percentage of profits to Commonwealth charities which I am very proud of till this day.
Years passed and the business grew from strength to strength, it was eventually acquired and freed me up with the time to go back into the corporate tech world and use my learnings to consult for large tech companies. This allowed me to then branch into the world of Customer Success, which is now one of my income streams. I have had the opportunity to work in billion dollar companies such as Salesforce and Shopify Plus to name a few.
Outside of Customer Success, in 2019 I founded We Are We, a charity dedicated to tackling societal pressures, gender taboos, discrimination and inequality uniquely faced by women in today’s society. One campaign close to our heart is the eradication of Period Poverty in the UK, through education, provision and policy. My charity believes that people who menstruate should have their periods with dignity as a fundamental right.
We are currently aiming to donate 50,000 sanitary products to women and people who mensturate by the end of 2021 and are pushing the Free Periods Bill to Royal Assent.
I am in a very blessed position where I have multiple income streams comfortably earning over six figures. My advancements in life have been as a result of me overcoming my adversities along the way. Challenges such as imposter syndrome, self-advocacy and self-promotion was something I struggled with earlier on in my career, which is something many women struggle with today. The moment I was able to push past those things through intentional planning, studying and faith in God, was when I was really able to excel in my truest form.
Other ways I overcame my setbacks was by putting myself in scenarios that scared me, for instance at one point I was terrified of pitching and presenting to senior stakeholders, when I admitted that to myself, I was able to intentionally look for the opportunities within the workplace where I could nominate myself to present or get involved. Now I would say I am one of the best when it comes to creating persuasive pitch decks and slides for meetings.
I would also encourage therapy sessions, it was through my regular sessions that I was able to tap into my subconscious, learn about myself in another light and communicate my emotions in a more concise way. There is a misconception that therapy is only for people with issues or troubles, I would argue that actually therapy is even more powerful when you’re in a happy place in life, it allows you to focus your energy on areas in your life from a place of gratitude and understanding.
As mentioned in my career story, one campaign close to our heart is the eradication of Period Poverty in the UK. We do this through:
Preparation: Preparing the next generation and encouraging co-education of unbiased teaching around periods, disposable and reusable sanitary products in schools and local communities. We also leverage education to change the narratives and stigmas associated with periods.
Provision: Providing a consistent supply of sanitary products to places in the UK where menstruators can’t afford them. We are currently aiming to donate 50,000 sanitary products to women and people who mensturate in need by the end of 2021
Policy: Lasting change comes through policy. We are working around the clock with other organisations to ensure that Period Poverty has a seat at the table when legislation is reviewed and passed. For instance we are pushing the Free Periods Bill to Royal Assent. We have a long way to go, but together can make a genuine difference in the lives of menstruators in the UK.
This is an important initiative because we believe that every person who menstruates, deserves to have their periods with dignity as a basic human right.
A second campaign is dedicated to black and people of colour communities as many from those groups have reported finding it difficult to talk about their periods due to cultural and historical stigmas they have had to endure. We host talks and sessions on ways to overcome these stigmas with the aim to break these barriers preventing these women from expressing themselves freely, connecting with their bodies and getting the help they need.
I think what gave me the drive and determination was: The fear of being average and full of potential and being a product of my environment
Outside of work my hobbies are being an avid tea drinker. I drink at least 7 cups a day! I even go as far as mixing different brands with different blends to create the best taste. I went to a tea garden in China and was able to taste over 1000 unique teas to create my very own blend. Researching into the immune system and learning about natural ingredients for boosting and detoxing the body I created a tasty tea that focused on replenishing me from inside every sip at a time. I also enjoy exploring new restaurants and trying new recipes from other cultures. When I was younger, I played the cello up to grade 5, I would like to pick that back up again and get my grade 6. I also studied the Spanish and Russian language both at university level but have not had much time to practice since embarking on my career journey, I have put that on my bucket list to brush up on this again.
My top three tips to give to young females starting their business would be:
Believe in your hustle I know this sounds cliche but having belief in your ability to deliver and create a self sufficient system is key as it starts with you.
You will find that other people’s encouragement and belief in you can only take you so far especially during times of uncertainty.
Being someone of faith in something bigger than me, I have learned to submit my desire to that source, claim it has been received and work with the resources available to me to make it happen. Through this exciting journey you will also find that opportunities will appear in different forms, some not as beneficial as it seems at first glance.
There is never a perfect time just start and be patient You can prepare, research and secure investment for your business but I have realised that no matter how much you prepare you can not predict how things will go! You just have to start and ensure you are as equipped as you can be at that present time, utilizing the resources and knowledge around you.
Get a team asap Having a secure support system is key to the successful launching and running of your business. I had to find out the hard way with my first venture where I was doing everything! I found that although I was achieving the targets set it was at the expense of time and energy which could have been invested elsewhere.
My advice I would give to women aiming for leadership positions would be:
1. Get a mentor
2. Work on characteristics needed to be an effective leader
3. Consider attending short courses- renowned universities such as Cambridge and Oxford offer short leadership courses often over a 6 week duration, which is open to anybody to apply if you can demonstrate a few leadership competencies in your experience
FOMO (Fear of missing out) is overrated, sometimes you must do what it takes to lead others, even when it is not the most popular or easiest decision to make.
It’s important to ensure that you are certain of your core values, these values will be what you lean on and use to navigate difficult decisions. It acts as a compass.
The best piece of advice I’ve been given is If the opportunity is for you, nothing or no one can prevent you from having what’s yours. What I mean by that is no matter how competitive the world is, patriarchal or biased, with all the odds stacked against you, knowing that you have what it takes to make things happen is key.
For me when I stopped operating from a place of fear and scarcity, things changed for me, not only from a stress level point of view, but I was able to actually stay in my lane and operate from a tunnel vision that catapulted my career to the next level. I was also able to bring others with me
What I would say to my 16-year-old self: It’s okay not to be perfect, you are perfect in your imperfections. Get involved in as many opportunities as you can, that way you can learn from early what you do and don’t like. You are also able to fail faster, learn from the mistakes and keep moving forward.
Embrace the emotions that come from failure and rejection vs shutting them down, these very emotions will help you make the decisions that matter
Society’s beauty standards are not your beauty standards, be bold in who you are and set your own trend, the older you will thank you for it later.