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Black Leaders Awareness Day 2022: Who Inspires You?

Black Leaders Awareness Day 2022: Who Inspires You?

Read our conversation with some Salesforce employees on Black Leaders Awareness Day and who truly inspires them.

‘Whether Black leaders are 10 years old or 100, Black Leaders Awareness Day will ensure that the world knows who they are.’

Inspiration can be found everywhere. In leaders, colleagues, and mentors, to family, friends, and strangers. I decided to catch up with some Salesforce employees to talk about Black Leaders Awareness Day and ask them to consider who truly inspires them.

Laura Ambrose, Principal Success Guide:

Many people have inspired me in my personal and professional life but two people have had a substantial influence on my leadership skills. Understanding your own values and principles is paramount in building your foundational identity, we utilise this when voicing and responding to a variety of topics, including diversity.

Vocalising your tenets is the primary tool we all possess to challenge prejudice and Adeshola (Shola) Mos-Shogbamimu – an activist, political commentator, author and lawyer – has refined her debating skills into an art form. She exudes confidence and ensures her voice is heard. I also take inspiration from Jacky Wright’s ambitious nature and belief that technology can improve the world. As CDO at Microsoft, Jackie imparts invaluable advice to individuals who want to follow in her footsteps, and she advocates that your mindset and principles determine the success and ultimately the legacy you will leave behind.

Muna Ebongalame Vice President – Customer Success Group:

As a new leader in the Salesforce business, focussing on the Education and Not-For-Profit sector, I definitely see a lack of faces like myself at this level, plus in my environment. I’m constantly reminded of the inequality of senior leaders who look like me, but that inspires me to drive this movement forward. Two leaders stand out for me in this respect too; Tom Ilube and Ric Lewis.

Tom Ilube is the Chair of the Rugby Football Union, an entrepreneur, and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. It is inspiring to see his achievements to date from multiple fields and most importantly for me, his charity work. He is the chair and founder of the African Gifted Foundation, a UK education charity focused on science and technology in Africa. They recently launched the African Science Academy, Africa’s first all-girls science and maths academy.

Ric Lewis is a founding partner of Tristan Capital Partners, which was the largest Black-owned business in the UK, with over £ 11 billion under management in the investment firm. However, Lewis is involved in a number of advocacy and charitable projects. He is the Chairman of the UK/US registered charity the Black Heart Foundation, which he founded in 2009. The Foundation is dedicated to supporting initiatives that improve educational benefits for under-resourced young people and providing opportunities to those who are otherwise denied it. Each year, it provides several educational scholarships to young people in need in the UK and abroad.

Lomi Aschwanden, Principle PAM:

Sitting at the intersectionality of being a woman and a person of colour, I found it challenging in the professional world to find mentors that encompass the facets of who I am.

I have been inspired by many people, and two stand out to me as phenomenal black female leaders;

Dame Sharon White DBE, currently Chair of the JL partnership, for her business acumen, Leadership and visionary approach to Retail. Watching her in a recent interview, it is inspiring how she articulates the importance of customer experience with the Retail Industry facing challenging times.

Michelle Obama, for her straightforwardness and, as the 1st Black First Lady, stayed true to her values and supports education as a platform for achieving personal goals and making the world a better place. To paraphrase her: never be afraid to aim too high or speak too loud, in particular, if you are a girl because your input and thoughts are valued.

Chimezie Anosike, Digital Marketing Specialist:

For me, everyday people and my fellow employees most inspire me. Being in a space like that in Salesforce, where difference is not only accepted but celebrated, and where talent is seriously recognised regardless of background, or age, or skin colour, or ability is so refreshing. The overall inclusive environment in the office, where everyone is treated with compassion and respect is great, and I really feel like the entire workforce embraces equality.

Having access to opportunities by fellow employees and management, and being given the ability to excel and progress career-wise is something I really value. Being surrounded by people that are so eager to succeed, but are also so encouraging in wanting me to succeed is something that really motivates me and is something I really appreciate.

Fadzai Madzingira Director, Ethical and Humane Use EMEA:

“I refuse to go back to not likin’ who I was” – Childish Gambino.

A professor of psychology defines emotional labour as “managing emotions during interactions to achieve professional goals and conform to work-role requirements”. This regulation is what often leads to Black employees having to modulate how they speak, present and engage at work. It is an exhausting exercise to present different versions of yourself at work to keep your non-Black colleagues comfortable.

I am lucky that for most of my professional life, I have been able to bring my whole self every day and limit the impact of this emotional labour. I have been able to do so because there are so many Black women who I know or admire who commit to their own personal journeys and advocate for others as well. From Ebele Okobi who uses her platform to raise other Black women, Afua Hirsch consistently writes about the legacy of white supremacy in Britain, Munroe Bergdorf reminds us that true liberty requires the protection of trans lives, Kelechi Okafor reminds us that anger is righteous through her podcasts, to my own mother who was a trained nurse but in a difficult economy reinvented herself until she found the version of herself that she loved and her family needed.

I have learnt from every Black woman around me that I have the right to demand more space than I am told to occupy. It is in every Black woman’s honour that I bring my bold self in every day and I hope to do the same for other Black women.

Catia Loureiro, Summer 2022 Intern – Sales Development, UK&I Market:

Born in 1944, Nana Akufo-Addo has been the president of Ghana since 2017. Currently, he is the chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). His family come from a wealthy background, and higher education increased his opportunity to improve the quality of life of Ghanaians. In 2018 he implemented the 7-year Co-ordinated Programme of Economic and Social Development Policies based on five pillars of growth and development.

Nana Akufo-Addo motivates the younger generation to invest in Africa, comparing it to the Chinese, with a development-based mentality of building their nation and culture up for future generations. As an intern of African descent, Nana inspires me to want to give back all the knowledge I acquired during these years and help to improve in the future my parents’ country, both financially and in terms of education. My small actions can hopefully mean the world to those who have nothing.

To learn more about Salesforce’s commitment to equality, check out our website, and for open job vacancies, have a look at our Careers Site.

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