Cloudflare TV

Black Man in Tech Event

Presented by Zaid Zaid, Lee Sam, Eric Pierre Allen, Olalekan Oyeside, Scott Tomtania, Matt Smith, Stephen Thompson, Edwin Sutherland
Originally aired on 

The event is titled 'Black Man in Tech' and aims to bring attention to the lack of representation of Black men in the tech industry. It addresses the fact that only a small number of Black men are usually present in teams and departments and more often than not, is the only Black Man in the room.

Join us on Cloudflare TV for this exclusive event on Thursday, 20 April from 6.30pm BST! This event will be a space for people to start conversations, share experiences and build connections with one another.

What to expect:

• A welcome keynote from Cloudflare’s CEO - Matthew Prince.

• A panel discussion with members of Cloudflare team who will share their career journey, the highs and lows of the tech sector and how they drive progress in their career and community.

Held in collaboration with Cloudflare's Employee Resource Group, Afroflare

Agenda: (All times BST)

  • 18:30 - Panel discussion (onsite & Cloudflare TV)
  • 19:45 - Spotlight - Scott Tomtania (onsite & Cloudflare TV)
  • 21:00 - End

Transcript (Beta)

Welcome. My name is Matthew Prince and I'm the co-founder and CEO of Cloudflare and I'm incredibly honored to be welcoming all of you to the Black Man in Tech event.

At Cloudflare, we tackle some of the hardest challenges.

Our mission is literally to help build a better Internet.

And one of the things that's so important as we tackle those challenges is to make sure that we have different perspectives from different people who can think about and understand problems in ways that maybe another group might not have been able to see.

And so that's why it's incredibly important that we make sure that our team is as diverse and representative with perspectives from all across different races, genders, national identities, economic backgrounds.

We want to make sure that we have a team that is fully representative of all of the different perspectives and experiences that we can bring to bear on any given problem.

The reality is that as we look across the tech industry, one group is particularly under represented and that's often Black individuals and oftentimes Black men in tech.

And so I was so excited when a number of leaders on our team that represent that perspective and have come and built their careers in technology and happen to be Black and have a perspective from that said that they wanted to organize an event in order to bring together and talk about both the challenges and the opportunities of being a Black man in tech.

Sometimes it's incredibly hard to be the only Black person or only person of any identity on a team.

And so the fact that we're coming together to celebrate that and to be emphasizing how important it is to bring different perspectives is something that I'm incredibly proud to, again, be able to introduce you to.

So thank you so much. Thank you to all of the people at CloudFlow that brought this together.

Thank you so much for attending. This is incredibly important and part of a series that we're doing around diversity and inclusion at Cloudflare.

And with that, I'll turn it over to the organizers of the event.

Hi, everybody, and welcome. As I said, I'm Stephen Thompson. I'm one of the representatives here from Cloudflare.

I work as an expansion account executive and I'd be very proud to host this session for you today with a panel of wonderful colleagues that I have from various different regions around our global network and our global offices.

I think it's first good and prudent to kind of give you an understanding of kind of what Cloudflare does and who we are.

We at Cloudflare simply want to build a better Internet.

We believe that our talented team, smart technology, and engaged users, that we can solve some of the biggest problems that there are on the Internet, and those being security, reliability, and performance.

I thank you all for joining us today on this evening. I'm excited to get this event started.

Let me walk you through the agenda for today's session. Following today's panel, our spotlight session will be with Scott Tanatia, who is our VP of Global Head of Recruiting.

We will then have a networking session with our on-site guests and several CloudFarians from systems engineering, customer support, recruitment, and so many more of our teams.

We're joined, as you can see, by a panel of amazing men who navigate daily the world of technology.

We'll be discussing their knockbacks, their successes, and what drives them ultimately to where we go from here to build more visibility and equality to black men within technology.

This event is titled Black Men in Tech and aims to bring to attention the lack of representation of black men within the technology industry.

It addresses the fact that only a small number of black men are usually present in teams and departments, and more often than not, is the only black person in the room.

So with that, hello and welcome to my colleagues, and let's introduce yourselves.

And can we start with Matt. Please let us know who you are, what you do.

Great, thanks for that. Hi, Matt Smith. I'm on the finance team, corporate finance team here at Cloudflare.

So run and manage a lot of our forecasting, planning processes, and obviously we are a public company and report earnings every quarter, which is a big task and set of work for the entire finance team.

Been at Cloudflare now for approaching two years.

I'm not sure how much more you want to know my background to start, but I started off in the Wall Street finance side of the world and eventually jumped over to the tech side when I left the Wall Street side to join Uber and was there for four years, and then have gone to a smaller startup and now to Cloudflare and certainly enjoying the journey so far.

Thank you, sir.

So Lee, let's introduce yourself. Hi, everyone. My name is Lee. I'm part of the recruiting team.

I'm based here in London. I've been with Cloudflare just under five years, and myself and my team, we help hire across sales, engineering, marketing, you name it, and it's been a pleasure.

I've experienced a lot of growth, career growth, and personal growth myself since joining Cloudflare and was literally just talking with a few colleagues saying that it's actually the longest I've been at any one company.

And I think the culture here at Cloudflare is one of the things that's kept me here.

So I'm excited to get out there and meet everyone and share more about my perspective and my experience.

Thank you, Lee. Eric, the floor's yours. Hi, everyone.

I'm Eric. I am on the revenue side. So revenue side, accounting aspect of the team, basically been here for about three years.

I make sure that what we report onto the streets is correct so no one goes to jail.

I'm just briefly frozen.

If he returns, he will return. But for the meanwhile, can we move on to Edwin, my friend?

I'm sorry, Eric. You froze for a moment there, my friend.

Oh, OK. Sorry about that. Yeah, so basically it started with Deloitte and then also with Lee.

This has also been the longest place I've lived, not lived, but worked for.

So yeah, it really does go to show how great the culture is here. And yeah, so.

Excellent. I'm delighted to have you here as well, my friend. Edwin, the floor's yours.

Hi, everyone. My name is Edwin Sutherland. I'm a principal solutions architect here at Cloudflare, working on the solutions engineering team, helping to drive the adoption of Cloudflare 1 platform.

So I've been at Cloudflare for just over a year now, and it's been an awesome ride, and I'm loving every minute of it.

And my background, I was previously working at Cisco Systems as an architect there for over 12 years, and then saw the light of what Cloudflare are doing and the innovation they're bringing to market.

And I thought this is a great place for doing great things.

So hence why I'm here. And thank you for inviting me onto this panel.

Perfect, I like him. Let's hear you. Hello, everyone. Thanks, Stephen.

And my name is and I'm a PIPA 96 manager here at Cloudflare. So basically what I do is apply data to employee PIPA metrics, make sense of the data, and also work back with the business and see how can we improve employee experience.

And I was in Austin, Texas, and I've been at Cloudflare for about 18 months.

And Cloudflare is actually my first tech company.

I moved from a chemical distribution company up in downtown Illinois.

And before that, I used to work for a big healthcare insurance organization.

And it's been a great journey at Cloudflare.

And I hope I'm here as long as Leah's been here. So I'm looking forward to the ride.

Fantastic. Now, there's a lot of wonderfully named gentlemen here, but I'm going to hand over to my good friend who's smiling already, Zayd Zayd.

Let's hear from you, sir. Hi, Zayd Zayd. I'm the head of U.S. public policy at Cloudflare in Washington, D.C.

I've been at Cloudflare for about a year and a half.

And I am from the D.C. area, but I moved back to Washington, D.C. in 2008.

And I've been here in a variety of different roles. I worked for a private law firm for a few years.

I worked in Obama administration, including at the White House.

And then I spent a little over four years at Metta before coming here in November of 2021.

Well, thank you.

So let's open the questions, guys. And I'll be delighted to kind of start off with a quick icebreaker.

So as an icebreaker, as a child, and I just want kind of a really brief answer, like a three second answer.

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?

And we'll go in the same order.

So let me throw that to Matt first. Yeah, I think I always figured I'd work in business or finance somewhere.

My mom's a CPA with her own business.

My father worked in finance. So I guess that always geared me towards that direction, business finance in some fashion.

Sure. Lee, same question. I remember when I was in primary school, I wanted to be an architect because I liked the idea of drawing buildings.

Then I realized that it involved a whole heap of maths and I lost interest.

I was like, yeah, no, thanks. Eric, what do you say? Uh, for me, I wanted to be a plastic surgeon for the longest time.

I mean, that can still be in the cards, who knows.

But I wanted to not still be in school, basically.

So I like money. So yeah. But who knows, maybe I'll go back to med school, become Meredith Gray.

Great answer. Edwin? Um, well, since I was a child, I was very outgoing and very active.

And I always wanted to be a footballer.

But I realized down the line that I wasn't quite cut out to be a footballer.

Well, it's a big mountains to climb, let's be honest. I don't like him. Talk to me.

Yeah, as a child, I actually wanted to be a banker because my mom used to go to the bank all of our money.

So I thought the bank has got to keep the money.

So I thought, well, I could be a bank and have all of this money. But apparently the world doesn't work that way.

I was a naive child. So yeah. And just before I move on to Zaid, I'm just going to give my quick answer as well.

I think it's fairly topical. I was brought up with a healthy interest in nature.

So I wanted to be a kind of conservative conservationist. I saw myself being the black David Attenborough.

For those of you here in the UK, it's he's kind of, you know, our primary conservationist.

And in the States, it'd be Morgan Freeman, who kind of does it just telling us about the state of the world, introducing yourself to animals.

So something along there, I thought, you know, find myself looking after lions and tigers and bears, who knows.

But fortunately, the path was a little bit different to that.

And finally, onto yourself, Zaid.

So my mom tells me that I wanted to be a Supreme Court justice. I don't quite remember that.

But my first memory of what I wanted to be was the Secretary General of the United Nations.

But then I found out later that an American is never the Secretary General of the United Nations.

So either one of those things are going to happen.

Cool. Zaid, thank you, guys. Thank you, gentlemen. But Zaid, stay with yourself, my friend.

Tell us about yourself, your employment journey that kind of got you from where you were to where you are today.

So I was a diplomat in the US Foreign Service right out of grad school.

So I served in the Middle East, in Tunis, in Cairo, in Tunisia, sorry, in Syria, as well as in Baghdad and at the United Nations.

And then I decided to leave the law school. So I went to, you know, a lot of people go to law school, you know, sort of right after undergrad.

I went later, took a leave of absence from the State Department, but kind of knew that I wasn't planning to go back because I really wanted to practice law.

Worked for a few years, and then went to a private law firm. And I at the time, well, when I was in law school, Barack Obama was was first an unannounced candidate.

And I sort of knew he was going to announce and I really wanted to go work in the Obama administration.

But, you know, because of some deadlines on applying for things, I instead applied for a clerkship before he announced and then two months later, he announced that he was going to run and I sort of kicked myself for not, you know, or for having this clerkship when I really could have gone to work on his campaign.

So in the US, when you're clerking, you can have no can't do any political activities.

So I was sort of off the political off the political route for a few years, joined a law firm and the law firm that I went to called WilmerHale had a lot of folks who had been in and out of government, particularly on the Democratic side, which was one of the reasons why I wanted to go there.

And one of the partners who there who I went to high school with, asked me to come work for him on a on a matter with him.

And I told him, sort of, which is not I don't know how smart it was at the time, but I told him, well, I'm trying to leave the firm, which, you know, I don't know if you want to tell people you're trying to leave when they're trying to give you work.

But it ended up working out. He called me up a few weeks later, and told me that his friend who happens to be Doug Kramer, who's Cloudflare's general counsel, was going to be the general counsel at U.S.

Agency for International Development.

And he wanted to know if I was interested in interviewing to go work with him.

And I said, yes, and interviewed, took a few months, but it all worked out.

Ended up working for Doug for about a year and a half.

And then I went to the White House for about a year and a half. At the end, as the administration was coming to an end, you know, as a political appointee, you lose your job on the last day of an administration.

And so, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do.

I wanted to try something new. I wanted to try basically policy in the private sector.

But I didn't really know what that meant. And so, I had a lot of conversations with a lot of folks.

And I think that, you know, partly just through context, partly I think because I had, you know, White House on my resume, a lot of people were willing to chat with me.

And one guy eventually said to me, why don't you think about the tech sector?

And I was like, well, I don't have any experience in the tech sector, but why not?

Like, I, you know, everyone uses technology.

It's sort of, it's the way of the future anyway. And it was, it also happened to coincide with a lot of the big tech companies really beefing up their offices and their policy offices and in Washington as well.

And so, I eventually went to then Facebook, now Meta on a crisis management team on, you know, so I did, you know, just sort of content policy crisis management for almost anything that was happening in the world happens on social media.

So, dealing with stuff as they were happening in the world.

It could be terrorist incidents, you know, the killing of journalists, you know, mass shootings.

It was never anything good.

People would tell me when they would get an email from me, they always knew that it was not, it was something bad happening in the world.

But it was exciting to be able to work on lots of issues around the world.

I have, you know, again, my diplomatic background, international affairs.

So, I was always working on something in the U.S., outside the U.S., the biggest issues on every continent.

And, but eventually, you know, we started as we headed towards the 2020 election, I started to specialize more on U.S.

election work and focused on basically trying to make sure we had a secure U.S.

election and did that for, you know, right as the pandemic was happening, you know, through the election.

I worked on then the Biden transition team.

And right, I guess, I mean, Doug, you know, in addition to being a mentor and a friend, you know, we, you know, would chat, even he was living out in San Francisco at the time, but we would chat all the time.

And one day he texted me, we usually would chat on Wednesdays.

He texted me on a Monday and was like, hey, are you free?

And then said, hey, are you interested in coming to Cloudflare?

And, you know, I did, I had a few interviews with the team, with some other folks, went through the process and started about two months later at Cloudflare.

That is a very, very cool story. I really enjoyed that. So thank you very much, my friend.

A quick fun fact about Doug, because I was a little starstruck by Doug when I first joined the company.

He told me that he worked with the Obama administration.

He told me something which I've taken and used as my own kind of fun fact that I've shared with.

Doug heads up our legal counsel for those audience watching.

And he was able to receive news and was able to open mail prior to Barack Obama opening his mail.

So that was a fascinating fact and stayed with me.

So I was delighted to kind of have you here as part of the team. So thank you so much.

So Lee, I'm just going to throw a quick question to yourself. What do you like most about your role, sir?

I think as a recruiter, good recruiters are really empathetic.

They care about, you know, the candidates that they're interacting with.

And each time you manage to hire someone, it feels like a big win for you personally, particularly if you have the fortune of a company where you really believe in their mission, like as we all do here at Cloudflare.

And obviously, having been here for almost five years, I've been through that process several times where, you know, you have an initial chat or screen with a candidate.

You know, you help them get through the process, answering their questions.

You go through the approval process for their offer.

And then you get the opportunity to say, hey, Stephen, or hey, Edwin.

I actually hired Edwin, by the way. You know, I've got some good news for you.

And that's especially when it's somebody who, you know, really is excited to work at Cloudflare.

When you're the one who, you know, has the privilege of sharing the good news with them that, hey, we want to hire you.

Here's your offer. It's a great feeling, particularly when they accept and when they sign.

And so, that kind of brings you, keeps bringing you back the next day, you know, to go through that process.

It's like a little dopamine kick. And it can be really rewarding as a recruiter.

Yeah, fantastic. I really appreciate all the work you do, Lee.

And long may it continue. Matt, why did you join this panel today?

Yeah, you know, for a few different reasons. One, you know, I think as I look back on my career, it's definitely, you know, a lot of times I just get caught up in doing the work that needs to be done.

And, you know, times I think about, oh, it'd be great to participate in something like this or try to share something I've learned along the way with others who are following behind me.

But there's always some reason like, well, not this one, not this one, kick it out.

I'm too busy, you know, this time that, you know, as I reflected on that, it's like, I haven't actually made this a priority, even though I've said to myself, I would like to do something like this.

So that's probably the first reason for me, you know, getting myself to stop making excuses and figure out how to make this work.

I would say, secondly, I work with Scott a lot. He asked me, I was like, I'd love to support an event that your team is organizing.

And then I think the opportunity to, you know, connect with more of the people here is a few people on this call I've interacted with or seen before, but not too many.

So getting, you know, better connected with the, with our Black men and our Black group here at Cloudflare.

Yeah, thank you. Great answer. And Lakin, what do you like most about your role?

Yeah, I mean, my, my role is directly tied back to DE&I, right? So ever since back in grad school, I did a lot of research within this space.

And I mean, also getting to like speak with business partners and business partners, business leaders on how to like improve their numbers and just basically even looking at employee engagement also and breaking it down by different groups, right?

Like it's, it's, it's always fun looking at the numbers.

I enjoy looking at numbers. I thought I was going to be a banker, like I said earlier, but since that didn't work out for me, I decided to go this route and, you know, just looking at numbers and, and these numbers actually there are people behind those numbers, right?

So it, it gives me a different like motivation to like being able to like tell the stories and tie all of those data points together and, you know, speak to business and that if you do not do X, Y, and Z, this is probably what's going to go on within your organization.

These are things you need to look out for in the next couple of months, the next six months and stuff like that.

So I do enjoy interfacing with a lot of people within HR.

It's always fun working back with them. So I mean, Cluster is also a great organization as well.

So all of that together is why I enjoy my role. And Edwin, like yourself, I kicked ball when I was younger.

I was not bad at it either, but the statistics say that the average professional footballer in the UK has a standard career of around 18 months to two years in professional status before, yeah, things happen.

So I think we've probably found a little bit more stability here at Cloudflare.

Tell me what you enjoy about your role, my friend. As an engineer, you know, I've been kind of been in the, in the, in the IT industry for over a decade.

And what I really love about my role is helping customers solve business problems with technology.

And I'm very fortunate that in Cloudflare, we're building some, some of the most innovative technologies out there that really makes a difference to our customers.

As the, as customers shift to different ways of working since COVID and all manner of digital transformation initiatives, it's really interesting having conversations with customers about what business problems they have and how can technology help them to address some of those.

So that's what I'm really passionate about.

I think myself as the kind of host and generally leading kind of panel today, I wanted to try and interject a little bit of my story as well.

My degree, I went to university, like I said, I kicked ball when I was younger.

I was not bad at it as well. I played, I had a professional semi, well, a professional career with Tottenham Hotspur as a youth player.

And my biggest claims of fame is that I nutmegged Sol Campbell on my second day of training.

And he went on to be an England professional.

After I nutmegged him, he kicked me so high up in the air and kicked me so hard that I, even on day one, I thought that this was not something that I'd like to be doing for the entire of my life.

I didn't make the grade there.

My parents wouldn't let me quit school and made me keep my education. So my education was, I was a, I did sport science at university.

I just wanted to kind of throw that in.

A lot of, kind of my wonderful colleagues here within the, within this group have kind of paths that maybe kind of led them to the roles that they do.

But now that I work in a sales role here at Cloudflare, I don't feel that a sports science degree, learning about the human anatomy of the body would be kind of what would lead me to have a six -year career with a technology company.

But let me give you a quick insight.

I, like I said, I was doing a sports science degree and that led me to the inevitable sort of gym-based environment, which I spent six years within a gym-based environment, personal training and looking after people's health and fitness.

It was a wonderful career, very vocational, but doesn't pay the bills or struggles to pay the bills.

So I was searching for some more money and frankly getting fed up with standing outside people's houses at six o 'clock in the morning in the cold and the rain, only for them to text me and say, I can't make it today.

I had good conversations. You've got to look at the kind of the skillset you have.

We all have a tremendous amount of skillsets and my skillset is talking.

It's my voice. It's kind of talking and learning. We all have to be curious here at Cloudflare.

I'd say that that's one of the things that we do. We have to be kind of really want to understand the technology that we have.

So I moved into the IT security space.

I was fortunate to go and interview with a couple of companies, which led me to joining this wonderful industry that we're in, in around 2007.

It was a very interesting journey for myself, very hard journey to kind of completely unlearn one technology or one industry and to go into another.

But with the right application, I think that I've got to a place where I'm happy and I'm where I can kind of succeed.

I'm delighted to be on this panel today and to be with so many intelligent, wonderful black men.

It wasn't necessarily important to me.

When I first started the company, I saw the technology space and I saw the movement to the cloud and I saw where we were.

And as many of my colleagues on the panel will say, that it's been a wonderful experience so far.

And we're doing things which are kind of innovative and really groundbreaking.

The journey and one thing we say internally here at Cloudflare is that when I first started, I'd say Cloudflare and people would say who?

And now I can say some of the very celebrity brands that we are now associated with.

And with a brother who also works for, my brother works for Spotify, they're using Cloudflare.

My sister works for MediaCom, who are owned by WPP, they use Cloudflare.

And so they come home and when they're trying to access their systems, they say, oh, Cloudflare's everywhere.

And that to me, I'm delighted to kind of hear that because that means that we're pushing the good name of Cloudflare forward.

So, look, thank you for kind of the answer, gentlemen.

I just want to move on to a different part.

We mentioned DE&I, which is diversity, equality and inclusion. So as black men, the reality we face is we face unique discriminations about the way we dress, our hairstyles.

How do you ensure you're showing up for work as your authentic selves?

Or can you show up as your authentic self? Do you change the way we speak?

Do we code switch? Or are there any other behaviours which we can fit into?

And before I throw that out, I just want to say, when we were, like I said, when I joined the company, it wasn't necessarily so important to me that I had other faces, diversity around me.

But to the audience, we had a kind of a precinct of this meeting last Friday.

And during that session, I had to leave early because I said I had to go to a nine night.

No, I didn't have to explain what a nine night was to this group, because people just knew.

And so that is something that kind of warmed my heart, that I can talk in a way and we can talk and we can have separate conversations where we truly can be our authentic selves.

So, Lee, how do you bring your authentic self to Cloudflare?

Just don't mute yourself, my friend.

Gets me every time. I say in my role that that's 10 press-ups.

All right, I'll put my 10 press-ups in later. But in terms of being your authentic self, I think we're all really fortunate here at Cloudflare that it's one of the main characteristics of the company that we actually encourage, we actively encourage people to be themselves.

Everybody here on this panel, everybody, every single Cloudflare employee, no matter their role or their background, they're encouraged to be themselves.

And it's part of the reason why they were hired is their uniqueness and their authenticity.

And that's one of the great things at Cloudflare.

What I would say is that not all companies are like that.

I think if you're based here in the UK, you might have seen a story in the news recently where a black guy, I think he interviewed for a job at a hotel or turned up to work at a hotel and he was refused.

I think he was told to leave because of his Afro hair.

And it caused an uproar just because I think he was told that his hair was unprofessional because of the appearance and the size of his hair.

And it wasn't even that big of an Afro, to be honest. And that just really underlined the fact that there's still companies out there and industries out there that really don't know how to embrace black people or even just embrace people who don't look like the founders or the CEO.

And so I think being able to be your authentic self can be a lot more challenging depending on the industry that you work in or the company that you work for.

And as I said, I think we're incredibly fortunate that here at Cloudflare, that's something that we actively embrace and we encourage people to be themselves.

And so, yeah. Evin, let me hear the same kind of response from yourself.

What do you think on this subject?

Yeah, I think like Lee touched on in Cloudflare, before you join Cloudflare, you kind of get this already a view of the different flares that Cloudflare has, the different kind of mini tribes that we have in a good way.

And that already shows you that appreciation of diversity in the organization.

So when you step into Cloudflare, you already know there's almost a sense of belonging in a group where you can talk to like-minded people, people that look like you, people that speak like you.

And also, in general, not just within your, if you like, your own background, but there's also exposure to different backgrounds and different communities within Cloudflare that is exposed.

So for example, whenever I come to the London office, yesterday, there was a Greek lunch for the office, for people in the office.

And again, that creates an opportunity for you to get to know other people from different backgrounds and is ingrained within the company.

And that really helps foster building connections with different people that are not like you, but also people that are like you.

And it helps you to feel relaxed to be, to bring the best version of yourself and also to bring the real you.

And that's something I've seen in Cloudflare and I really appreciate.

Excellent answer. Thank you, sir.

Olanekun, what are your thoughts? I mean, I'm going to mirror what Lee and Edwin said about Cloudflare and just, you know, the opportunity to work with different people and also have like ERGs that are more like specific to different groups of people, right?

Because that's been very helpful for me. And I'm actually going to go back also in addition to that, to my immigrant story, because I'm from Nigeria.

I was born and raised back in Nigeria. So I moved to the US about 10 years ago.

And I mean, moving about 6,000 miles across the Atlantic, it was different culture, different everything.

The weather was different because I'm from Ibadan, Nigeria, which is about usually 70, 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which is Chicago, which is cold, right?

So it was all different for me. And making that move, right, it was a lot of adaptation for me, right?

Even just my name, right?

A lot of people look at my name. It's like, you have a unique name. Do you have a nickname?

Can I call you O? Can I call you Ola? Like, no, not Ola. Please, let's not do that, right?

So it was a lot of challenges. And just like introducing myself, even in grad school, I would get compliments.

I guess they're backhanded compliments.

And people would tell me, oh, you speak very good English for someone who just got here, or you're so eloquent for someone who just got here.

And I would say thank you and keep it moving.

But then at some point, I was like, wait, I've been speaking English all of my life.

Like, that doesn't make sense for you to tell me I speak very good English, right?

So for me, it got to a point where I was like, okay, I'm not going to operate from this certain box where people expect me to operate in, right?

Like, I'm going to bring my authentic self.

I'm going to, again, improve on my communication, which I speak clearly and all of that stuff, and make sure people understand what I'm talking about.

And of course, my name. My name is my name. There's nothing I could do about my name at this point, right?

So it's like, yeah, I don't care. Like, I could teach you how to pronounce my name.

However long it takes. I've got time, right?

So it's like, well, yeah, I'm not going to give you a nickname. You're not going to call me, oh, or hola, like stuff like that.

So that, again, that journey from 10 years ago where I was like, oh, I have to operate in this box.

I have to, like, speak a certain way.

I have to introduce myself a certain way. I kind of moved away from that into like, okay, I'm just going to be myself, right?

And people are going to adapt.

Because for me, it's like, if I do not show people myself, who I am, then how do they know, right?

How do they know me, right? It's like, it's just always going to be this facade that you're putting out.

It's like, yeah, it doesn't make sense.

And honestly, it's inconvenient, and it's quite stressful to keep operating within, like, with a facade and within the box.

So yeah, so that has helped me through my career journey.

And I'm also joining Cloudflare. And again, ERGs, right?

And also working back with some of the business partners and other different groups.

It's been encouraging, and it's allowed me to continue to be my authentic self.

Why a few of us have mentioned the ERGs, which is the employee resource groups that we have here at Cloudflare.

We have a wide range of many ERGs here at Cloudflare.

Just one, during the COVID experience, just to quickly share a story, it was also during the Black Lives Matter movement.

And I don't think that there was any kind of time when a lot of us probably felt more pain about what we would see, the injustices we were seeing all around the globe.

Especially in America, we were seeing people of our hue, pulled out of cars, dragged, shot still.

And, you know, it's still happening to this day. I found that space, the Afro Fair group, along with our kind of sisters are also joining us.

I found it a particularly kind of warm and safe place, whilst we all kind of tried to make sense of what we were experiencing, feeling.

And we're able to articulate to ourselves in a kind of a close space, along with some of the allies that we have, who are joined.

Everyone is welcome to join the group. And I found it a particularly safe space for myself.

And I think there's a tremendous answer, Alaycan.

And I'd like to just sort of move on to kind of another topic, which we have here, which is intersectionality.

I mean, for some of us, we're showing up as a kind of a double minority.

And it may lead to another level of discrimination. How do you handle that?

Can I ask you, Zaid, to take the floor on this one? Yeah, in my case, maybe even triple, because in addition to being Black, I'm also gay and also Muslim.

I think for me, it's like, there's, I don't know any other way to be. So I just am, right?

Like, I can't hide that I'm Black. Probably try as I might have up until my early 20s.

I couldn't really hide that I was gay. Everybody knew, even when I wasn't ready to say it.

And, you know, my name is Zaid. People immediately are going to ask me where that name comes from.

And I explain that I'm Muslim.

So I just, I am who I am. And I don't have any other way to live, except in all three of those places.

You know, and, and, and I think one of the things that, that I've done, I haven't really, not that I thought about this, but like, I show up in each of those places and make sure that I and the parts of me are represented, right?

So that when I'm in a gay space, that there's a Black person there, that there's a Muslim person there, when I'm in a Muslim space, that there is a Black person there, and there's a gay person there.

And when I'm in, you know, just like each of those spaces, like it is very clear that I am there.

And I know that there's some other part of me that is being represented.

And oftentimes, I might be the only person who is representing whatever other thing is in that space.

But I think that that's important.

Because there are oftentimes people who, like we serve as role models when we don't even know it.

Because by showing up in a space, by living your authentic self, by being who you are, you often give other people courage to be able to live for themselves as well and to live out loud, as I like to say.

Thank you. Excellent response. Eric, my amazing brother, please tell me, talk to me.

I mean, yeah, definitely. I can echo with Zayd on that one. I'm like, two worlds, Black and gay, don't really realize.

For me, those two, there's no way of hiding either sides of those.

So it's kind of like coming in to all those spaces.

I mean, I think Zayd, you really just said it very... I would say really authentically being who you are and not being apologetic for either of those aspects.

And I think, I guess, kind of just to circle that back with how Cloudflare has really embraced that aspect of it.

Right now, I'm in Afroflare, but also we have all our different tribes and everything.

And we have that space to be able to, one, I guess, interact with people from those different spaces, but also make sure people know that we all exist there.

So, I mean, I'm in Afroflare.

I'm in Proudflare. I'm actually the global leader for Proudflare.

So I think with Cloudflare in general, it's been a beautiful place, especially with my background being an accountant.

We kind of are, from my past experiences, usually are like, okay, yeah, yourself is kind of more your work versus being in tech, I feel like, or the quality of your work or X, Y, and Z.

Yeah, that's obviously an important thing.

But there's also another person behind that. And so I think that was just like what is really important to fully embrace all the different little bits and pieces of it so far.

And I think I'm really glad that Cloudflare has really kind of gave me the space in my career to really do that and embrace all the different aspects of myself.

So, yeah. Yeah. And then, do you know what?

I'm an ally of some of our other ERGs and I'm very proud to be an ally of the group that you lead as well.

So it makes me and my understanding and my journey a better one as well.

So kind of as we move on, Matt, in what ways do you think we can be more aware of our biases that we face on a day-to-day basis?

More aware of the biases we face or our own biases?

Or our own biases. Yeah. I guess they're going to be related in any case.

At least for myself, I like to think of myself as a very introspective person.

Don't know that's ever been objectively measured.

But one of the things I think that stuck with me in some, it was, I think, a leadership training I had previously was when you approach a situation, it's like, what do you know for sure?

You can assume a lot of things when someone says something, does something that irks you the wrong way.

But one check on any of the assumptions you're making is like, OK, what do you actually know for sure?

You know X, Y, and Z facts. And anything around that is maybe something, some color you're adding to it.

At least for myself, when some interaction sets you the wrong way or something raises your eyebrow and you're like, what just happened here?

What did this person just say? What does this mean? I like to step back and at least say, hey, what do I actually know here?

And then take it from there and engage from a point of assuming good intentions.

And certainly, there are going to be individuals out there who don't have good intentions.

But it's not a place I like to start off at first.

And I think it allows me to examine any potential biases I have.

And also, not assume every interaction or negative interaction must be from a bias from someone else.

But certainly, there's patterns that can be observed.

And if something is repeating, then to me, that sticks out as something like, hey, this needs to be addressed and directly confronted.

It's kind of how I think about things. As you're talking, Matt, I had one question which sort of came in, which has been asked when I've been in this industry, is the where are you from question.

And as you said, the biases can be the where are you from, and where are you really from?

And as we talk about biases, sometimes I think that we can kind of understand that that question might come from a curious place, or it might come from that place.

We don't want it to come from that place.

But Edward, what are your thoughts? Yeah, in terms of biases and confronting yourself about your own biases, I've been very fortunate enough to have traveled around the world into different places.

And that has really shaped my worldview as well.

And it's given me a better perspective of how different people perceive me, but also how I perceive others.

And I think that to confront your own biases, it's important to network with people that are not necessarily from the same background as you.

And the more diverse group of people you interact with, I think the more you start to break down the biases you may have against other groups of people, or towards certain traits that you may have.

For example, you might have stereotypes that are just not warranted, if you interact with people and really get to know them.

Or if you expose yourself to a certain environment, you see that it's not the way it's often portrayed to be.

So I think that those kind of things can really help, even if it means like having a mentoring or peering relationship with someone that is different from you, just to gain a perspective helps to break down biases.

No, I could agree more. And we've got, you know, I think the term that we're all standing on the shoulders of giants, that it's very clear to me that they're within all of this panel.

And I believe the kind of the watching audience as well, there are kind of some strong influences that we are trying to sort of fulfill.

We're all probably sort of like second generation, possibly third generation kind of immigrants, those, you know, people who traveled around the Dyspora.

So I'm honored to be in a panel of so many kind of traveled, learned kind of guys.

It reminds me of something that my dad said to me, and you just mentioned the word there, which is stereotypes.

And one is always kind of shared with me is that don't be the stereotype they think you're going to be.

It's something he's always said to me. And there's always perhaps an expectation of kind of what we are and who we're going to be.

And so I've taken great pleasure across my lifetime of trying to dispel that almost immediately and showing up being your authentic self is absolutely part of it.

So thank you very much for your answers, guys.

And so diversity inclusion, and sorry, diversity, equity and inclusion, and the organization, it's been sort of present for some time now.

Why is it important now?

Would you say, Lee, can I throw that question to you, my friend?

Sure. So I think it's important for a few reasons. Firstly, the reason why it matters for Cloudflare, and thankfully, Matthew always repeats this and shares this when he's presenting is that businesses are actually more successful when they're made up of, you know, diverse workforce.

So it's not because we want to appear woke, or we want to be on trend because everybody else is doing it.

We literally will perform better as a company, the more diverse our workforce is.

So I think for us at Cloudflare, for other companies, that's really why they should be focusing on DEI and diversity, because let's face it, if you're a public company, you have shareholders, you have, you know, profitability targets, etc, that you want to achieve.

And, you know, the more diverse your employee base is, the more likely you're going to be to be successful.

And it's tough as well. Achieving diversity is hard work.

As a recruiter, you know, you're often sometimes targeted on the diversity of the teams that you're helping to build.

There's no silver bullet for diversity, either.

You have to be, as a company, you have to be doing lots of little things really well, in order for it to show in the makeup of your workforce.

Thank you, that's a great answer. So guys, we have a watching audience as well.

And there's a question which has come from the panel. I'd like to throw this at Matt to start off with, and then I'll kind of quickly, so I'll ask you to sort of quickly answer the question in around about a minute or so.

But how did you find a mentor? Yeah, for myself, it's probably an area where I could be more active.

But, you know, it's been key to, you know, the opportunities I've had in my career, some of the people I've worked with a lot, for example, on the banking side is how I ended up joining Uber on their financing and moving into the tech side.

But essentially, it was individuals that I had spent a lot of time working with that, you know, had strong views about the about my work ethic, the quality of my work that, you know, led to a, at least for me felt, you know, a more, you know, natural connection and affinity there, where they were more than happy to help me build my career, develop me as well.

And when I raised my hand, like, hey, I want to come join you guys over there.

The answer was basically, when can you start? So for me, it's from individuals I've worked a lot with who have, you know, really appreciated my work over a number of years that have led to me to be able to build, you know, a relationship that, you know, went beyond, you know, that, you know, a particular assignment or a particular employer that's been, you know, key to me that I can call on when, you know, I have questions around the current stage of my career and, you know, can get advice from those individuals.

So that's how I, you know, went about it, I suppose, myself.

So, Edwin, who's your mentor? Have you had a mentor?

Yes, I've had various mentors and I still maintain a lot of great relationships with them.

Some of them, I seek them out directly. So I remember when I first joined Cisco, there was a distinguished architect that I looked up to.

He was the only distinguished architect that was black in Cisco. And I thought I would like to be like him.

And so I figured out my way to connect with him and build a relationship with him.

And he's been invaluable to the progression of my career and also just someone for me to bounce ideas off.

So, for example, when I was contemplating on joining Cloudflare, we had discussions about what I would do for my career and things like that.

And I also just having someone that I can, that understands my background, the struggles that I'm going through, because he's been there before, you know, he's broke boundaries that I'm trying to break as well.

And that's been very beneficial for me. So I think having mentors is a great way for you to accelerate your career regardless.

Sure. Thank you so much. I really appreciate the answer.

Have any of you found it difficult to kind of find a mentor within your working environment because there wasn't any black representation that you could perhaps look for and look up to?

I would say, to be honest, on my end, yeah, it's been kind of hard in at least for like kind of on the accounting side.

And, you know, I was in public accounting when I first started my career.

And I mean, yeah, the numbers are probably, if not less, like over there.

So I would say less for like my like for fellow like black men for mentors, maybe like some people on like the like, like I had like some gay friends that like kind of mentored me and all that.

But no, it's been.

I don't know where Eric's provider is, but he needs to have a conversation with them.

Yeah, well, it's OK.

Sorry. Yeah, it's spectrum too. But I would say most of my mentors had just been kind of like my managers.

But other than that, I would say it can be hard.

But, you know, once you do find that really good person, you know, really do develop that relationship.

I think that's the most important thing. All right.

Thanks, guys. I've got a few questions coming in from the panel and from the watching.

So for the watching audience, I just wanted to share them with you.

So a question which maybe sort of those who are kind of more towards a recruitment side of things can perhaps answer.

So I currently have five years of experience and I know I have the confidence when I walk in the room because I understand my worth more power to you.

When I first started, I lacked confidence and I felt like my questions were ridiculous.

I'm interested to hear if you all had the same experience and what you did to overcome this lack of confidence.

And you know what?

I think I'd like to take the floor first on this one. It's walking into the room proudly with your head held high, knowing that you can do it.

I like I said earlier on, I recognize my skill set. I had to kind of examine what I could bring to the party or bring to the table.

I knew that I was good at communicating.

I knew that I was good at connecting with people. And I could find that it's still kind of one of the key skill sets I utilize today to this job.

I make sure that I'm prepared.

I make sure that I'm ready to have the conversation about the wide range of technologies that we have here at Cloudflare.

But I think that they're kind of not just great skills to utilize here at Cloudflare.

I think they're great skills full stop.

And so the tail part of that question just wanted to say again, how did you if you if you lack confidence, how did you overcome that confidence, gentlemen?

And probably throw that question to Edward. For me, one of the things that helped me gain confidence in my career was pursuing skill set that really made me stood out.

Right. So as a as a networking engineer, you know, the Holy Grail is to become a Cisco Certified Internetwork Engineer, CCIE, which is an industry recognized certification.

And it's not really the attainment of the certification, but the process of gaining the skills towards qualifying for that really helped me develop my skill set that it gave me a lot of confidence to be able to not only step out and show people I know what I'm talking about, but have the confidence to prove it as well.

So I think if you if you have the skill set and can prove that you should have confidence in your ability to demonstrate that.

And that gives you a certain level of confidence and assurance to step up and not doubt yourself.

By the way, I'm part of the sales function here at Cloudflare. So I do talk on a daily basis with customers, prospects, people who aren't using Cloudflare.

And I particularly work with customers who are already using our platform, but helping to explain, you know, to evangelize and to expand their knowledge of the Cloudflare platform.

So Edwin is someone who's invaluable to myself within the organization.

And I know from the colleagues that he works with, he's a fine upstanding representation of Cloudflare.

So thank you for being you and thank you for doing doing everything you do.

Another question. How do we overcome any workplace gaps, i.e.

pay gaps, being in a minority without feeding into the sort of biases or the stereotypes?

Question which comes from the audience. I'd like to kind of throw that one at Zaid.

You know, any thoughts, Ed? I, yeah, I was I was thinking, please don't let him throw that at me because I have no idea when it comes to when it comes to workplace pay gaps.

I mean, so, you know, one of the things I'll say is, is, you know, in addition to having a mentor, it's also great to have, you know, if you can, if you can find them sort of your your, you know, in Washington, we call it your kitchen cabinet, like your circle of friends.

And these don't need to necessarily be folks who are more senior than you.

But, you know, sometimes it's really helpful to have that group of folks who who are the same level or, you know, you're maybe one or two levels below or above them.

You know, at at Facebook, you know, we a group of us, we all happen to be on the same content policy team.

Black men, we, you know, got together when there were more black men added to our team.

We would bring them along into our group. And when we were all in different places, actually, we weren't even in the same offices.

But, you know, when we had when we had off sites, we would get together, we would have, you know, meetings over, over Zoom, we got in trouble at least once with the women for not inviting them, even though they had their own groups.

But, you know, there are a bunch of us, a bunch of us from that group, we all left Facebook at the same time.

And now we are all in different companies, different tech companies still.

And we still regularly talk about career issues about pay about, you know, different opportunities, etc.

And sometimes, you know, I think people are, are loathe and I think, you know, for good reason to necessarily talk about their pay with others.

But sometimes it's the only way you kind of understand and can figure out that there might be a gap.

You know, one way to do that, and this is without necessarily divulging all of your information to other people is maybe to talk in generalities, but to give, you know, to give some examples, because that information can be really helpful, can be helpful.

When you are trying to negotiate a raise, it can be helpful when you are trying to negotiate a new package when you're going to a company.

A friend of mine who, you know, also happens to be a black man, we even when I went to Facebook, he decided he was going to go to Google.

We were both, you know, applying for jobs at the same time, he told me what his offer package was for Facebook.

And it was very different than the package that I was given, or that I was initially, at least initially offered.

And having that information from him knowing what he got, particularly because even though we would have been on separate teams, we were the same level, I went into my negotiations knowing what his package was, and I made sure that I was not going to settle for anything less than what he got.

And so, like, information can be powerful. It's hard to get it sometimes, but you have to ask around, you've got to, you know, try to figure out what you can to try to make sure you're not selling yourself short.

And it's really hard, particularly, I think, when you are coming from, for me, I'd never worked in the tech sector before it, like my private sector experience was at a law firm, which actually has very regimented, you know, salaries, they give you a salary based on what year you graduated from law school.

So coming into this new private sector world, for me, I was at a loss as to what seemed good, what seemed okay.

And for a lot of us coming out of government, you know, you might say to yourself, that looks amazing.

But then you find out that somebody else, you know, got a different package, just because they asked, or just because, you know, they were a better negotiator than you.

And, and, you know, so you have to try to get information where you can to take that, to make sure that you are, you know, getting paid your worth.

Thank you very much. I feel you're kind of excellently qualified to throw an answer in here.

Yeah, I think for what one interesting thing about gender pay gap, which when, when these discussions are happening, is that, and I actually learned this from one of my colleagues in HR, a couple of months ago, is that when companies report their gender pay, it only compares the total amount earned by, by men compared to the total amount earned by women.

And they will be, because they will be in very different roles, it may appear that there is a pay disparity.

But it doesn't always compare like for like. So for example, if let's just pluck figures out the sky and say, Cloudflare has a gender pay gap of 10%.

It's not saying, it's not saying that a female account executive is earning 10% less compared to a male account executive.

What it's actually saying is that the total number of men at Cloudflare, let's say 1000, are maybe earning 10% more than the total number of women at Cloudflare, but that's because they are in different roles.

So that's one thing worth pointing out. The other thing to also to call out is that depending on the type of role that you are working in and the industry, that's also worth taking into account when you are negotiating your, your salary, as Zaid was talking about, it is worth definitely trying to speak to colleagues who may be working industry, particularly if they're in the same or similar role to what you're going for, to try and find out, okay, what is what is the market actually paying for this role at this level.

And when you've got that, you know, that hard data that can really be beneficial when it comes to negotiating your pay.

Because in my experience as a recruiter, and I've been doing recruitment for almost 17 years, that that first point, you know, when you when you get your first, you know, negotiate your salary, that's probably the biggest opportunity you have to influence your, your disposable income, because many companies, once you're there, the incremental, you know, salary increases aren't going to be, you know, earth shattering, unless they have, you know, annual bonuses and things like that.

So, so, you know, that that initial negotiation is really, really important.

And once you've got to that point where, you know, the company wants to hire you and you want to join them, really take the time to do your research and negotiate as hard as you can.

And as I said, know your worth.

And another question which comes from the audience, and what are you personally doing to ensure that the generation behind you don't experience some of the struggles that we possibly have had seen or witnessed or experienced?

How do we make the path forward better for the future generation?

And let me put that question to you, Matt.

Yeah, I think I think along a couple lines on this one, I think one is just keep blazing your trail.

You know, I think that will make a more clear path, you know, for people who are following behind you.

So continue to blaze your trail, but also engage with the younger generation so they can learn from your, you know, from your mistakes and from your successes, as well, to move along that path or, you know, maybe the things I think about the most on, you know, if I think about, hey, how do I get this, you know, younger, the next generation, you know, I think about getting them, how do I get them to where I am faster than I got to where I am, is something I think about you know, on that topic.

Bill, the questions are coming thick and fast, so let me just throw another couple over to you.

But what has been your greatest challenge and a great accomplishment as a black man in tech?

And let me give that question to you, Olelekun.

That's spicy.


I mean, for me so far, again, it's I, in some ways, I have a direct influence when it comes to looking at diversity numbers, right, at Cloudflare in tech, right.

So it's looking at the communities we sell to, right, looking at the communities we operate in, and trying to like mirror those communities and also telling those stories back to leaders, right, like, yeah, your numbers do not look great, because you do not mirror or reflect the communities you sell to, right.

So yeah, being able to like crunch the numbers.

And again, we speak about the employee life cycle, right, from the very first time they apply, or you reach out to them with whatever the case is, all the way to when they exit the organization, when the employees exit the organization, right.

So we look at all of those things. There is a thing called adverse impacts, right, of where do we see adverse impacts, right?

Where do we see those issues?

And where do we see bottlenecks, right? So speak about promotions, where is that glass ceiling for a particular group of employees within the organization?

So looking out for all of those things, and again, speaking out to, speaking out and walking back with, again, the business to help them understand like, this is an issue, right?

You need to work on fixing this. And of course, it's not going to happen overnight, it's going to take a while, right?

And when you look at those issues too, again, it's like an onion and you're peeling the layers, right?

So there's a glass ceiling, what's going on? Are we not affording the opportunity for a particular group of people to learn and grow?

Is that the issue, right?

So again, we start asking all of these questions, walking back with the business to kind of like make sense of everything, right, and fix the issues going forward.

And greatest challenge, I would say is, things don't move fast as I would love them to move.

So I still struggle with that a little bit, because again, it's like you work with different people.

And sometimes the process is just too slow, and sometimes tedious for me.

So learning to be patient, but also continuously like, you know, push for change, and also make sure I practice my advice.

To interject some personal insight as well, I would say, note your achievements, note your successes, note your greatest kind of conversations you've had.

Mine is kind of coming from a sales world, it's numbers, it's customers that I brought on board, make sure that kind of you recognize that when you've led things like this.

I mean, I'm not gonna lie, this is leading this event, I'm very proud to do so.

But it'd be something which I can carry forward and say, I was very delighted to be part of a group of representation that's going to help future generations, hopefully, and see that there is a path.

I think that's ultimately kind of what we wanted to do.

It's what I shared with the kind of the live group in the other room, that there is a path forward, there is an opportunity.

And we have a lot of questions which have come from the audience.

And we're now going to go from our kind of scripted questions, which we have, and I'm now going to ask them to kind of try and make sure that I do get back around to answering all of the questions that the watching audience have shared with us.

And one of them is that for anyone who's coming from a lower socioeconomic background, do we ever feel any guilt about making it?

And yeah, that's in parentheses, making it, when you know that others around us possibly haven't been as successful, and how do you combat that?

Now, I wanted to kind of perhaps take the fall on the first instance again on this one and say that around my kind of personal circle, I think we try and enrich each other, we try and each other, and we try and build each other up to make sure that it's not sort of one rising up.

It's to try and have a group of kind of colleagues, friends, associates who all want to strive for better.

Again, kind of leaning into kind of some of the history, and some kind of the families that they, you know, our parents, people around us always probably wanted us to do as well as we can, and to do kind of push forward to be better, to be the best versions of ourselves that we can.

And I personally, and I hope that you colleagues agree that I want to sort of rise up, but I want to make sure that I bring good people with me as well.

Along the way, and along the path, I'm not going to lie, there have been probably some who are along, who don't follow that path.

And as you grow, you know, I use a good skin cream, but I'm 45 now.

But along that path, you kind of, some of them won't come along with you on that journey.

But you know, hopefully you'll have a big strong path of people around you who you can carry forward with, and have the same aspirations to lift yourselves up.

And I think that's probably the greatest kind of message that my parents would give is raise yourself up, and be better.

So it's really continuing to be a great kind of panel session, I really enjoy it, kind of talking and listening, and it's brought me closer to all of you.

But there was a kind of another question which I wanted to do was, which goes more back to kind of really the kind of the role, which are uncertain roles, which we have.

And here at Cloudflare to explain, we have a great recruiting process.

Yes, we have our recruiters, but a lot of the people that do the hiring are the people that would eventually be your co-workers, be your colleagues.

And so in regards to kind of product management, what kind of hard and soft skills do we kind of look for?

And I think, and I feel that you could probably replace the words product management candidate with any particular role, what are the hard and soft skills that we kind of look for as we are helping to bring other colleagues and other people into the organisation?

And Edwin, can I throw that question to you first, my friend?

Yes, and I think maybe we can go around and everyone can potentially have a one-liner.

I think, you know, to work in Cloudflare, you should be excited about working with technology or excited about the potential of technology.

And I think if you've got that passion, then the other things will kind of, you pick it up along the way.

So that was, for me, would be the call to ask.

Thank you, what would you say? I'll stick with one of our Cloudflare capabilities, which is live with empathy.

Yeah, yeah, great one.

Matt? Yes, I got a few, and maybe I'm more rehearsed at this, because I've been interviewing about my team, I get asked this question a lot.

Four things I think about a lot are intellectual curiosity, attention to detail, perseverance, and bias for action.

Yeah, I really appreciate that.

What would you say, Zaid? I think that, you know, people need to show, be able to show and demonstrate good judgment and creativity.

You know, some people, and lawyers, although I'm not a lawyer in this role at this company, but lawyers sometimes are depicted as someone who says no a lot.

But there are some lawyers who instead, when they practice, they are trying to figure out a way to help.

And so when you, you know, sometimes you have to be creative to figure out how someone can do something legally, even though, you know, it might not, it probably, it might push you more than you want to be pushed or more than you're comfortable.

So you're looking for someone who can, who has that creativity, who has used their judgment, who also has, you know, particularly when it comes to tech, I think now, I don't think this was the case, you know, necessarily five years ago, but you also want someone who can show experience in the tech sector in a way that I think, again, wasn't necessarily the case a few years ago.

Eric, your thoughts? Yeah, I actually like to kind of piggyback on Zayd, I think that was a, I don't know if my Internet's acting crazy right now.

Hopefully it's not. Okay. So I would say the number one thing within Cloudflare, at least, is curiosity.

Even me being like an accountant and coming into this role, I didn't really know super a lot about tech, but then it's like bringing that genuine curiosity about what we do, about what we're about next, goes a long way.

Like, you have a question or you're curious about something, there's someone within the vast groups of people here, you're going to find somebody that will be like talk you through it and not even make you feel like dumb for asking, because I feel like we're definitely not one of those, oh, there are dumb questions.

I would say there's definitely like, no one really cares around that kind of attitude here.

And I think that's what we definitely cultivated very thoroughly through our recruiting process.

It's, yeah, I would say everyone's curious, and everyone has things that you're curious about once you get to know them.

Yeah. And Lee, let me finish with you, sir.

Yeah, so my answer is literally Eric's answer, which is technical curiosity.

It's actually something that a lot of teams at Cloudflare specifically interview for, you know, just how technically curious is this individual.

And, you know, for those, you know, in the audience watching, it might sound a bit daunting, but that doesn't mean, as Eric said, he works in accounting, that doesn't mean that he's expected to be able to write code or, you know, be able to explain CDN or WAF or DDoS attack or anything like that.

But can you, do you have an interest or curiosity around what Cloudflare does?

You know, do you have an interest in what it means to be, to help build a better Internet?

And if you come into an interview or, you know, a conversation with that level of technical curiosity, that goes a really long way at Cloudflare.

It really does. And let me give you an absolutely terrible example of someone that I interviewed, a number of years ago, is that I, we would expect someone to kind of done their research a little bit to kind of understand the company and where we're from.

And I asked, I asked him, well, you know, what do you think, what do you think Cloudflare does?

At that point, he opened his laptop, which he had folded in front of him, went to the website and started reading from the website to me what Cloudflare does.

He was not a successful candidate. Let me put it that way. And I've got a question which has come from the audience as well, come from, from interest.

It was like, let me, let me read it. I relate very much to Ololekin's background, very much being that I moved from Nigeria to the States as well.

My question for Ololekin is, how did he work his way into a company, into such companies as a black man in tech?

Yeah, and I'm going to echo what others have said, right, in seeking out mentors.

So for me, starting in grad school was, I mean, going to conferences, right, within my field, and just like speaking to people, understanding like their journey through, again, moving from back home to where they are right now, and like, where do they want to be in the future, right?

So asking all of these questions and, and basically understanding what that journey looks like for them, some of the challenges, right?

Something my mom used to say, it's, it's good to make your own mistakes, but you want to learn from other people's mistakes, right?

So like, ask them, like, what mistakes did you make along the way?

Right? So if you were in that same position, like today, like, what would you do differently?

Right? So it's asking all of those questions. And, I mean, yeah, it's, it's gonna, I mean, it's, it's, I wouldn't say it's easy and direct, but it's just, you know, continue to put in the work and, and people are usually willing to help.

That's one thing I've found out, and they are usually open to opening up their network to you.

So it's reaching out, networking, also doing the job on yourself, like, as I've said, like, you can build up your own skills, right?

So at least, you know, when you're in the room, you can speak to, speak to your SKUs as well.

So yeah, I think all of those things have helped me. Right, Jez, thank you very much.

I really appreciate your time. It's now time to kind of bring the silent face, the one that hasn't spoken yet, into this, into this, into this session.

He's our Global Head of Recruiting and a great colleague of mine, Scott.

Welcome to the call, my friend. I'm sure you've heard everything that's been said and just wanted to kind of give you the floor as our Global Head of Recruiting.

When I first met you a number of years ago, I was one, extremely proud to see a black man take the role.

And I've been delighted to kind of see that the growing face and representation within the company.

So please let me give you the floor, my friend.

Wow, Stephen, I don't tear up easily, but what an introduction. And that's what I was hiding earlier, not to join this illustrious group of individuals.

But thank you so much for, for having me on the panel. And I wanted to take the time to also thank a number of individuals, Trudy, Bawa, Talia, who was really the main brain behind this.

As you, as you noticed, it took a black woman to bring in an organized black man.

So shout out to all the black women at Cloudflare who are leading all the efforts in Afroflare.

So massive, massive shout out to you.

And there was also Val Vesa. Val is our social media guru here at Cloudflare, who was also one of the brains behind this.

And Jason Kincaid, who joined us earlier to walk us through all the technical issues.

So as you can tell, we all live in different countries, different cities.

We come with different experiences, even have different accents, right?

My accent is very vastly different from Lee's accent.

So we, we live in Washington, DC, Austin, London. We all hail, some, some of us hail from places called Togo, Ghana, Nigeria, St.

Kitts, Navis, all over the place, right?

So our experiences are very complex. And, and we bring those complexities into solving some of the challenging issues that Cloudflare is facing.

And as you can also tell, this is such an amazing place to organize, I think, probably the first black man in tech event in tech.

So I had a bunch of folks that were, you know, looking at our LinkedIn posts and some of our other channels that were really perplexed and also super excited about what we're going to talk about.

So kudos to everyone involved. So I want to speak to three individuals or three groups of individuals today.

So first, candidates. So if you're based in London and you are in the audience, I'm sure you've caught a glimpse of what our culture looks like.

This is a unique opportunity for you to mingle with every single person there and get to know individuals.

Reach out to us if you're very, very interested in, in joining Cloudflare.

This is an incredible place to, to solve hard problems.

And our mission is to help build a better Internet.

So such a bold mission. Come join us. A number of folks are there to answer all your questions.

If you're unable to get all of your questions answered, reach out to us at careers at

Someone will respond back to you.

The second group of individuals that I want to speak to are hiring managers.

I took some notes here and I jotted a few things down. And also leaders that are also watching us.

And the main thing is a lot of the challenges still persist when it comes to building an inclusive team and also building a diverse team.

And you can do six things immediately. And I took some of those from a number of channels that I listened to and through conversations with different people.

And the first one is make a visible commitment. I firmly believe that the most profitable companies of the future are going to be diverse companies.

And I believe that the most productive companies are the most inclusive companies.

So make a visible commitment. Number two is lead with humility. We don't know everything.

So create a space where people can fail, ask hard questions, and lead with humility.

Three is be aware of your biases. We all have biases and they show up in a form of our blind spots.

And three, be incredibly curious. As you can see, it's at the core of who we hire at Kaufler.

We love folks who are very, very curious, who execute, who want to get things done.

And number five is cultural intelligence.

Pay attention, learn more about every single person on your team, who they are, what they stand for, how you can get the best out of them, how you can indulge in the cultures, and make sure that you're leading really, really productive teams.

And then the last one is collaboration. And if you do these things, if you spend more time really understanding every single person on your team, you will be able to build a very, very inclusive team.

And then the last group I want to speak to are people of color, black and brown folks that are listening to this message.

I want to say two things. One is it can feel like, you know, the conversation is moved, it's usually moving forward and in some respect regressing.

We all watch the news. We see a number of things that happen in the news.

We're all personally impacted by a number of tragedies that tend to occur to a number of us.

But one of the things that I want to mention clearly to us is let's pay it forward.

Reach out to someone that you know. Reach out to a new hire. Reach out to a younger person who's in high school, who's in college and pay it forward.

And in the words of my dad, my dad used to say, look behind you and use your torch and light the torch of the person.

Light the torch of the individual who's behind you so that that individual can also keep carrying the light.

So that's all I have today.

I'm super excited about what Cloudflare is building. Super excited about what this event will lead to.

And if you're very interested in connecting with me personally, I'm on LinkedIn.

I'm very happy to answer any of your questions you have.

And thank you very much for having me on this call. So let me pass it on back to Stephen.

And Stephen Thompson, you take it away. Thanks, guys.

Scott, thank you. Wonderful work as always, my friend. Delighted to see your face.

So really appreciate that. So I'm just going to, one, put my camera back on.

And two, I just got a few thank yous and to let you know kind of what's going to happen now.

We have a few people who've joined us in the office today, dotted around, and they're going to help network with you to answer any more questions that we have and discuss some of their roles.

And then we'll eat some jollof rice and then we'll all go home.

So thank you for joining us today to network with us and to kind of share your knowledge.

Just want to kind of lead out. You'll see them with the kind of lanyards, orangey and large for the Cloudflare colour, but letting you know some of the roles that people will be happy to kind of talk to you and give you some of their experience.

So all of us soon is from our customer support team.

Oliver is a great colleague. So have a chat with him. Israel is our systems engineering.

And tonight is also our DJ. Jade Williams is our infrastructure and operations team.

And Pashal is from our systems engineering team.

Ola is from customer success. Kingsley is one of our business development reps.

Ione is from our field sales. Oppa Jimny is from our product engineering team.

Roy Lowe is from our recruiter, also a recruiter, as is Vicky Bayfield.

Lee will be joining us in the in the room with you soon, as well as our Amir head of recruitment.

Edwin, our principal solutions architect is also going to be joining us.

And Neil Sushak is one of our strategic account executives as well.

And Lila is also one of our business development reps. Now, again, as we kind of close out the session, just absolutely tremendous, significant shout and all of my respect to Trudy, who has, as Scott said, put this session together.

Trudy is wearing the beautiful orange dress and looking fabulous this evening, and has done sterling work in getting all of us together for this particular session.

So my particular thanks once again to her.

And thanks to Jason, who's the face there that you see, handsome and smiling, who's, as well as Gabriella, has been part of the Cloudflare TV team that has helped us to put this session together.

And to Matthew, our exalted leader, who gave a great insight and a great introduction to this particular session.

To Alonso, who followed me with the introduction and who will remain and is a great advocate for the company and part of our special operations team.

To Judy Chung, who will be kind of part of this great organization and helping as well.

Scott, thank you for your words, for your wisdom, your insight, as always.

And to Sia, who is part of our lead of the Afroflare group, one of our sisters, and I strongly just commend her for everything that she does to keep the Afroflare group running, and everything is so.

I feel we've done a lot of talking today.

I've really, really thoroughly enjoyed the session. I'm going to continue to enjoy speaking to some of you now.

But thank you so much for taking your time to be with us, to celebrate Black Metal Tech.

And I'd like to think that this will be the first of many sessions to come.

And who knows, one day I hope that one of you will be sitting here doing what I'm doing.

So thank you very much for your time, and on to the next one.