Cloudflare TV

Black Woman in Tech

Presented by Tracye Shaw, Sieh Johnson, Maddy Onyehara, Kyra Meier-Klodt, Jade Williams
Originally aired on 

Tune in live to hear Black women from Cloudflare share their experiences navigating the dynamic landscape of the tech industry.

During this session, we will delve into topics such as biases, misconceptions, and effective strategies for overcoming obstacles to achieve success!

The event will also feature a Spotlight talk by Tracye Shaw.

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

What to expect:

  • 6:30 PM
    • A welcome keynote delivered by Michelle Zatlyn, President and COO of Cloudflare
    • Panel discussion
  • 7:30 PM
    • Spotlight with Tracye Shaw Head of Commercial Mid-Market
  • 7:45:PM
    • End

Transcript (Beta)

Tracye Shaw,Sieh Johnson,Maddy Onyehara ,Kyra Meier-Klodt and Jade Williams Thank you so much Ella and also thank you so much Trudy for pulling this event together.

It's just amazing to see how many people are all together at the Cloudflare office in London today.

Sadly, I can't be there in person, but so many of my colleagues are and I really am wishing all of you a wonderful event.

And so maybe I could just start by introducing myself.

My name is Michelle Zatlin. I'm the founder of Cloudflare, also the president.

And I just wanted to share a little bit about what Cloudflare is and then why we do events like this.

I used to go to, I go to a lot of events like this and I always like to understand, like, what's the point of getting everyone together?

And so just quickly tell you a minute about Cloudflare and then why we do events like this.

So Cloudflare, we are a connectivity cloud company.

We help companies bring all of their digital experiences to life with better performance, better security and better reliability.

And it turns out digital experiences and the Internet matters more than ever.

And so Cloudflare's connectivity cloud matters more than ever.

And so we work with all sides, businesses from the largest organizations in the world to nonprofits that you may be involved with, issues that you really care about, to small businesses, to entrepreneurs building the next hot startup.

And so I love that Cloudflare works from the smallest up to the largest organizations in the world.

In fact, we have over four million types of customers around the world using Cloudflare.

It's a huge responsibility. And again, it's because the Internet matters more now than ever.

It's really cool what we get to do. And so at Cloudflare, we're busy helping to build a better Internet.

That's our mission as a company.

And you ask, why do we host this amazing Black Women in Tech event? Well, number one, Matthew, Lee and I started Cloudflare about 13 years ago.

We just celebrated our 13th birthday last week.

And without a doubt, what I've learned as my career as a business leader here is more diverse teams are a better place to work and drive better business results.

And I really mean that so much. So let's start with the first one, a better place to work.

I love that at Cloudflare we have over 30% of our team are women around the world and over 30% of our teammates are in leadership positions as women.

And I think that that's something we're really, really proud of.

And we need more women at Cloudflare as well as in the technology industry.

We need diverse points of view so that we're building the right products, the right solutions, as well as just making it a better place to work when you have diverse points of view and styles, you end up with a better outcome.

On the business results, it's the same thing.

It's just if you have the same background, you often get to a suboptimal answer.

And what I love at Cloudflare is because we have a more diverse team, we're building products and solutions that matter for the Internet and for our customers that have impact in the world.

And today over 20% of the web touches Cloudflare's network.

Every day we stop about 140 billion with a B cyber attacks because of these services that our team brings together.

And that's really operating at real impact.

So again, so why are we getting this group together? Because of the power of one conversation.

And I've been to so many events like this where one conversation changes the trajectory of a project or my career.

For example, some of you might end up applying to work at Cloudflare and having an amazing career with us, or perhaps you meet somebody else from another company and you start to work at that company, or maybe you become a Cloudflare customer or you come up with the next idea of what you want to build and you start build an entrepreneur and you start a really successful company.

Or maybe you just meet a new friend and that friendship burdens and is really important to you over the next coming years.

But I can promise you for everyone who shows up and spends the time meeting and listening and being open that you'll look back and say, wow, this was a really worthwhile event.

And that's why we get this group together. So thank you so much for coming.

Really looking forward to the program. We have a great we have a great evening planned again.

Big thank you to our team, especially Trudy for organizing all of this.

And with that, let me turn it back to the team so we can get started.

So that was the amazing Michelle Zatlin. And without further ado, I'd like to invite our panelists on to the floor.

A big clap. Yeah, yeah. Yes.

Oh, ladies, ladies, look at all the enthusiasm. I love it already. We're in good hands.

So if you could all one by one introduce yourselves, I start with Kira just here.

So tell me about yourself. Hi, I'm Kira. Excited to meet you all. I work at Cloudflare.

Firstly, I'm a regional marketing manager for Israel and Central Eastern Europe.

And I've been here for about three years. Go on, Ratnash. And outside of that, which some of you also were here for.

I run Kuroka, which is a media company.

And so a couple of you are from there, too. And I wanted to acknowledge you.

But that's me. Thank you very much. Good. Good evening, everyone. Thank you for coming here.

My name is Leila. I'm in the sales team. So I provide first class solutions to wake me up at night.

And I help to mitigate problems that CTOs, CIOs and CISOs are facing.

This is I've been here for a year and a half. And my market is the Middle East market.

Thank you very much. Hey, everyone. My name is Maddie.

I work as a technical writer. I've been at Cloudflare for about six months.

I joined in April. So I write the software documentation that you see on the website.

So you can use the products that we build. And yeah, that's it. Yeah. No.

Incredible. Thank you. So I wasn't lying. We have incredible women right here.

We pick the best. Just saying. So let's get into the nitty gritty. First question.

I'm coming to you, Maddie. Yes. What inspired you to pursue a career in the tech industry?

Oh, good question. I have a little story to share. So initially, I didn't want to work in tech.

I was going to work probably in medicine, you know, as a Nigerian.

That's what I expected to do. So I took a year off after high school.

And in the meantime, I was looking for a job. And I found a job in a web marketing agency that builds websites.

And that kind of sparked my curiosity. So I decided to study computer science at university.

And that took off my career. Incredible.

And so what was the defining moment in making that choice? Like, was there something that stood out in terms of maybe the language used or how you could impart your knowledge to people who maybe aren't so tech savvy?

Yes. So partially was my curiosity and understanding what happens behind the website.

So now I work as a technical writer, but before I was a software engineer.

So that kind of made my transition.


Incredible. Thank you for sharing. And if we could go to. My story is not going to be as good as yours.

Me, I chose tech because firstly, I went to uni, studied finance.

And there was this element of sciences that I was lacking. And plus tech, it was the industry that was developing all the time.

And every day was not the same as the next day.

Everything was evolving. And it was kind of who I am.

Today, I'm somebody that I'm not going to be tomorrow and that I was not yesterday.

So this is what attracted me to tech. And that's my story. Beautiful.

Thank you. Yeah, I think similar to the rest of the ladies, I just saw that tech was taking off.

And so when I came out of uni, I was like, OK, what job is going to get me paid?

And tech was really the options. And I started in sales as a BDR.

But with a background in psychology, I really always wanted to work in marketing.

So after a year of grueling sales, I made this switch and was lucky enough to find Cloudflare.

And so I've been here for three years, different roles in marketing, and now excited to look after the region.

Incredible. Thank you. And I think it just goes to show that there's so many different routes into the tech industry.

It doesn't have to be the linear route or something that you believe is the most traditional to be able to enter the industry.

So the next question, considering that we're all very confident, there are times where we may feel like an imposter.

We may feel like although we have the skills and we're more than capable, actually, maybe I'm not.

And those seeds of doubt start to sink in. So my question, have you ever, Lila, we'll start with you.

Have you ever encountered imposter syndrome?

And if so, have you overcome it? Yeah, for that, I would go. I always remind myself of who I am.

I'm going to go back to how I'm sure a lot of people here would relate to that.

When I was little, from nursery to primary, children would come to me and say, oh, look at my, show me your hand.

Oh, why are you so dark?

This is very dirty. And nobody would want to hold my hand apart from Louise, who was my best friend, who was a black girl as well.

And so you start thinking, oh, this is, that's not good.

Being brown is not a good thing. So you become somebody else and then you overcome that.

And then comes your career. You're at another company and people say to you, but you're very defensive or you're very intense.

So you start becoming the person who's not defensive and not intense. And you continue and you continue your journey without being who you are, with letting people shape you in what they want you to be.

And then you realize, oh, this is not me.

I'm not defensive. You change the narrative. I'm assertive. I'm not intense. I'm passionate.

Once you bring back what belongs to your identity to yourself, then this is when you overcome your self-doubt and your imposter syndrome.

And that has worked for me.

Beautiful. Thank you. I would say that's what it is for me. Amazing.

Madi, if you could add. So I have two ways I try to combat imposter syndrome.

So one, the first way is to remind myself that I got hired for a reason, that I have potential and skills that bring to the table.

And then the second one, whenever I feel like an imposter, I just go speak to someone.

And that really helps me refocus and remind myself that I actually have something that I can bring to the table.

And often I have to say that I feel imposter syndrome when I speak to people who are higher up.

And that's when I kind of feel a bit insecure. But probably that comes from a place of putting people on a pedestal.

And I have to remind myself that even people higher up have their insecurities.

Maybe they just don't speak about it, but they have their insecurities too.

So that kind of makes me relate to them more.

No, beautiful. And I just want to add on top of that, that everybody started at ground zero.

Nobody just walked in and said, right, I'm at the top.

I know everything, omnipotent, omniscient. You have to go through the ranks.

You have to fail. You have to learn. You have to get back up again.

And that's what takes the strength. And that's also what I feel helps get rid of that imposter syndrome.

So Kira, if you could add some sentiments, please. Yeah, very much on that.

And like you said, you were hired for a reason and reminding yourself of those things.

I think I recently really dealt with imposter syndrome in my last role application.

Because being on the marketing team and this role coming out, CVs were pouring in.

And I had to forward these to my boss knowing that I had applied for it.

And I was seeing them and thinking, okay, so much more experience than me.

So much more understanding of the territory than me.

Older than me. All these categories that I was just convincing myself, you know, I don't have a shot.

But still went for it. And not to brown nose you, Ranesh.

But I think an important thing to do is to find advocates and allies around you that will put you forward.

That will be able to vouch for you when you are in those conversations.

Sometimes your credentials or whatever you think is holding you back might not get you there.

But an advocate can put you forward and really highlight why you could be a good fit for someone.

And give you a shortcut potentially to getting there.

So I think when joining new organizations, really identifying someone that you connect to that maybe is somewhere where you want to be.

And is similar to you. I had that when I started here.

She ended up leaving. But she was a leader in marketing. And she gave me some tips right off the bat.

And some shortcuts right off the bat. So I recommend a way to get through this imposter syndrome is trying to make it a little bit easier for yourself by having, I guess, friends in the right places sometimes.

And playing the game a little bit.

Oh, for sure. Playing the game, yeah. Okay, so my next question.

I was debating between two and I feel like this is the most apt question to ask.

So we'll start with Leila. How do you stay motivated and continue to pursue your careers, pursue your goals in the industry that may not always provide equal opportunity to Black women?

Then I'm going to go back to what my dad said to me once.

Leila, it's a jungle out there. There's two choices you can make.

Either you go straight into the jungle, get the animals, befriend them, and come out with Alex and Marty from Madagascar.

And that's your goal, to get out of it.

Or you can sit down and cry at the bottom of the baobab and let the animals eat you alive.

So my point here is focus on the goal. Focus on the goal and don't look at the problem.

Look at what solution can I bring.

I've got the skills to get around it. I've got the skills to go over it. I came so far now that I cannot give up right now.

How do I make it work? I made it work so far.

So how do I make it work now? It's another step to make. So how do I do that?

And I look at what solution do I have in front of me? What skills do I have?

Who I've got around me? Because it's not just me. I look at mentors that I've got, friends that I've got, managers, directors, and I talk to people who would help me.

And it's okay to ask for support. It's okay. And this is the way I do it. I remind myself that I came so far along that I cannot give up.

I need to get going and find the solution to get over or around that problem.

Yes, and this is why she gives first-class solutions.

And I think you've raised a really great point about, you know, people are resources.

And whether that comes in the form of a friend, whether that's a mentor that you sought out to receive their wisdom, even if it's a person on the street.

You know, if that's that barista that serves you coffee every morning, they're learning your name.

They're learning your temperament. And there could be a time that they give you a gem that you never thought would come from them and could potentially change the trajectory of whatever it is you're about to do.

Madi? My answer would be community in the sense.

So tech is like it tends to be very fast -paced and not everyone likes that and it's completely fine.

So sometimes you may lose motivation to work in the industry for various reasons.

But one thing that I've learned is that a lot of problems in tech are not tech related and more people related.

So sometimes you may be able to find solutions by just speaking to someone and having that kind of emotional intelligence to deal with people because you will definitely encounter a lot of different personalities.

Definitely, beautifully answered.

Kira, do you have anything to add? Not really, but I will. Community is a big thing.

I think just finding your group and it doesn't have to be an ERG necessarily, but just your people within your organization.

Because I think oftentimes as any minority group, but as Black women, you don't feel like you can bring all of yourself to work all the time and show up by yourself.

Even if it's putting on your camera when your hair isn't.

We have certain chats where we're always on camera because it doesn't matter and it will be probably everyone an afro player.

But as soon as we're on a meeting with other people, camera off. So I think it's finding your people.

Let yourself have that break because the work itself, I think, like the two ladies were saying, we're capable.

You can do it. You can get the help.

You can get those types of resources. But the social support system is probably the most important.

Yeah, for sure. I think being able to even not use your words, but have that one glance or look and know that, you know what I'm thinking, right?

OK, we're not alone. And it makes that the job that you're more than capable to do, that you're worthy of having that much easier.

The room of doubt fades away and you get to enjoy it.

You start to remember why you applied and why they hired you.

I'm loving this. I don't know if you can tell. I'm just I'm loving this.

OK, so our next question. We're going to start with you, Kira. You're right next to me.

Have you had any mentors or role models who have influenced your journey in the tech industry?

And what difference have they made? Yes, a couple. In the tech industry, my last boss really helped me in her attitude of even when everything goes wrong, we're going to laugh about it and we're going to try to see the bright side of things.

And it was really something where everything would go wrong at times.

And we would really it would be our fault that things have gone wrong.

And just have the attitude of just get it done, let's fix it. I think that's helped me professionally the most.

And then personally, all the women in my life play a huge role in making me want to try harder and do more.

And specifically, I know it's a cheesy example, but my grandmother, I think about her regularly.

She was in the first cohort in Ghana to go to university ever.

One of the first four women.

And I think I think about her context and how she felt in her university potentially and what she did.

And she ended up working for the Ghanaian Foreign Service.

And then when I'm sitting there in front of my spreadsheets and being like, oh, this is scary.

Like, what was she feeling? Let me let me power through. Let me try a little bit harder.

And there obviously has to be balance. But that's definitely my North Star.

Beautiful. Thank you. Go ahead. For me, it would be I would say that, first of all, one cannot be what what one cannot see.

So I go by that. So it's very important for me.

It has been very important to surround myself with mentors who are black ladies, black women, Muslim women, brown women.

Just for me to be able to relate to.

And one of them is a lady. Can I say names? Yes, you may. It's a lady called Jo Elizabeth Butler.

I call her my auntie. And she is African -American, started in a very middle, not middle class family, but went to university at Columbia University in the 70s and got a job at and excelled at a job at the United Nations.

And she's one of the greatest directors they've got in law there.

And it's just when I speak to her, it's not impossible. The impossible she makes it, I impossible.

And knowing that you have ladies like Jo or other ladies I'm surrounding myself with that are capable of doing, breaking the ceilings and the glass ceilings and breaking walls for you is very important.

And that's why, that's what my mentors are about.

Thank you. Go ahead. So my experience is actually with a man, a male mentor, and he helped me because the first two years in tech were a bit difficult probably because of the pandemic.

And actually didn't know what to do.

I had no clue. I was working in a company, but things were not going well and I had no idea what to do.

So what I did, I went online and I just searched mental tech or something like that, because I just needed help.

And I found this online community and they matched me with a mentor who's much more experienced than me.

He's been in the tech industry for like decades. And the reason why he helped me was because I wanted to do something different than soft engineering, but I didn't know what.

And he helped me like showing different roles in tech, because often tech is very soft engineering focused and everyone ends up working in soft engineering.

But sometimes you have to realize that that might not be for you.

That doesn't mean they have to quit tech as a whole. There are many roles that you can do that suit your personality and your skills where you can excel.

So he helped me in that sense.

Beautiful. I love that. And I just want to add as well. Have you, any of you been a mentor to somebody else?

And if so, maybe one point that stood out for you during that time, whether it is official, unofficial.

Yeah. I have for my ex-university because my ex -university runs a mentoring program yearly.

So I've been a mentor twice and it's been really fun. I'm still in touch with my mentees.

So we message each other sometimes on LinkedIn. And it's nice because I think mentor is very useful because when you are in uni, you don't really know how, like what is out there in terms of the workforce and how you actually work in a workplace.

So I think mentors are kind of like a bridge because they help you understand how is the reality after uni.

And yeah, it was a nice experience.

Brilliant. Thank you. Yeah, me was, it was a few years ago. This little boy was doing his GCSEs and he was very much at the bottom set of his class.

And he had this logic about himself that he would never do anything great in his life.

He wouldn't achieve anything academically.

So I took him under my wing, I would say, and I was tutoring him.

And it wasn't much about the topic. It was much about you can do it, Adam.

You can do it. What's stopping you? Because of this, because of that, because of what I was saying earlier on when the imposter syndrome.

So how about you do this?

How about this? How about that? And then for three years, I followed him and I tried to tell him what his identity looks like.

He made his identity on his own and then went on to have like A-stars at A-level.

And he's in a great, great Russell Group University where he's studying law and he's opening the doors for others who didn't have that confidence.

And he's tutoring now other kids who were in the same situation as him.

That's really beautiful. And I think something that you said in regards to how about how about, again, providing those solutions and giving more than one outlook.

Oftentimes when we're trapped inside our minds and we think, oh, maybe I can, but maybe I can't.

I can't. Let's forget it.

It's having someone that goes, have you tried this? Oh, there's this. Google exists.

If in doubt, you can Google it. You can ask a friend, that barista. I have a barista in mind.

Yeah, but you can. And I just love offering those how about solutions.

Yeah, I think similarly, the only opportunity that I really had to mentor was a high school student.

And I remember when he reached out to me thinking, what can I offer you?

But happy to. And he firstly helps me ask mentors for help, because what I realized through him is how eager I was to give him information.

As soon as he showed the willingness to put in the work on learning about types of universities you can apply to and having the courage to reach out to a stranger to ask for advice and how excited I was to help him.

I thought, OK, maybe this is how people I reach out to may feel about helping me.

And that made that process a lot easier.

So I can definitely recommend if you're scared, reaching out to mentors, be someone's mentor.

And other than that, just finding ways to ask people and return value, even if it's a mentor mentee dynamic.

But as a mentee, the other way around, I know when I was navigating role progression, I would try to still find things that I could add value for the mentor.

They would give me their time and advice.

And in return, I noticed that they are an avid swimmer or something like that.

And so I will send them a list of swimming trails that they could go on or trying to find the things that show you care so that they in turn don't feel like it's just for nothing.

But yeah, that's that's my one experience. Thank you.

Love that, that mindfulness to take on board that information. You know, when you have those catch ups in the beginning, they are really fruitful.

And just because it isn't a hobby or a passion that you're into, you can still help them.

Like you said, if it's a swimming trail.

Yeah, I like that. We're using that. Or whether they have a dog.

I don't have a dog, but I can see an ad and think, oh, this could be great and send that over.

So love that. Thank you. That's what I was thinking.

Sorry to interrupt you. Sorry. Is, you know, how are you going to if you want to work in tech and you want to become the CTO of some company and you don't know how to reach out to the CTO to get the insights, they get loads of messages.

But if an engineering student reaches out to them being like, I looked at your random podcast that you run with your friend and you love to canoe and these are all the latest canoe things you can do.

And that's what you offer. I think you increase your chances of getting that back from them.

For sure. Tenfold. Definitely.

Someone told me this latest lens, it'll make you like Beyonce. Yes. Whatever you need.

OK, enough of me. Next question. In your experience, what are some unique perspectives or contributions that black women bring to the tech industry?

Well, obviously depends on the background and where you work before. It can be anything, for example, the language.

It can be understanding the different barriers in tech, especially when it comes to recruitment.

That's a challenge, unfortunately.

Yeah, I would say these two. Yeah, for sure. I think as well, the recruitment part, being able to add insight and whether that's culture, religion, ways that people live, being mindful that someone who is neurodiverse may hold a different way of interviewing as opposed to someone who isn't.

And having someone who is being able to explain that to you, especially when you're comfortable with them, can make all the difference.

Go ahead. Yeah, I would say that resilience.

Resilience. That's what we bring to the table. I know it's a bit cheesy what I'm going to say, but there's no breaking us.

When you're a strong woman, a strong black woman, you are strong and you are resilient from your childhood to when you're a young adult or an adult.

You are resilient and that's what you bring to the table.

You think and you're like, oh, no, don't worry. I'm going to get to my goal because you've got your goal in mind.

You've got that goal in mind and nothing will stand in your way.

And that's what black women would bring to the table.

But the second one is the ability to identify to other cultures, to educate ourselves on other cultures and being interested in other cultures as well is very important.

And that's what we bring into the table, understanding the other, because we want people to understand us.

We make the effort to understand others.

And that's what we bring to the table. Absolutely. I would say, like you said, the ability to see differences and acknowledge differences within others.

Discrimination is invisible, right, to anyone who doesn't feel it or experience it.

So for someone who experiences a certain category, it's a little bit easier to see others as well and potentially identify others.

And we're also kind of a walking billboard for diversity and that opens the doors to people who are diverse in different ways because they see us and think maybe there's also a space for me.

And then finally, just the overachieving nature within our group, having to show up really on point a lot of the time, being 100 percent qualified, 98 percent qualified, speaking right, looking right, showing up in the best way most of the time.

I think that brings an additional caliber to teams.

And something that Arlen Hamilton said, and she's an investor for, she runs a venture capital that only invests in Black founders, women founders, queer founders.

And she said, I don't do this because I'm a charitable person and that I think that these groups just need some money.

It's that I know they are rockets, right, that just need fuel.

People that have these backgrounds are ready to go. And if you give them some money, they're exponentially going to grow and give me returns greater than potentially other founders.

And so I think that's really what we bring to the table.

Absolutely. Wow. Thank you. I'm getting gems too. I don't know about y'all, but I'm leaving full, not just my stomach, but I'm leaving full.

OK, so I think I really love this question because I can't wait for your answers.

And it also, yeah, let me just ask, what advice do you have for aspiring Black women who are interested in pursuing a career in the tech industry?

No, no, no. Stay authentic to yourself.

Never, ever forget who you are. It doesn't matter. I know we talk about tech, but never, ever, ever forget who you are.

Keep your identity and continue with that.

The second one would be educate yourself all the time.

It's an evolving industry. It changes every day. Today is not the same as yesterday and tomorrow will not be the same as today.

So educate yourself. Be hungry to know more.

Knowledge is power. So know more. Know more things in tech. Know more about your colleagues.

Know more about your managers, your directors. Be somebody within your team that helps, that is there to think outside the box, not just to make numbers or to do your job.

You're here as a part of a family, I would say. And that's what I would say to anyone who wants to come to tech.

Beautiful. Thank you.

Go ahead. I have a couple too. So number one is more like money related because I think we don't talk about this enough.

So whenever you reach the stage where the company is about to make you an offer, make sure that you negotiate your salary because you might be leaving money on the table.

So I have this rule, no ask, no get.

So if you don't ask, you definitely don't get anything. So you always negotiate your salary, then you may not get it.

That's fine. But at least you've tried.

So that's one. And then number two is to always keep learning, obviously, because it's tech.

So you always want to keep learning and stay updated.

And then number three is to just be an easy person to work with because people remember that.

Yeah, for sure. And thank you for mentioning money. I think we all get a bit, ooh, it's money, it's my bank account.

We're not talking about my zeros.

However, Maddy raised the great point, which is if you don't ask, you won't get and you'll never know.

And by the time you've applied for somewhere, that means that you know you're capable of that job role.

By the time you've interviewed, had a really great interaction, you know what your value and your worth is.

So when presented with that number, if you don't feel that that's enough or you're inquisitive to find out what that number could be, you're well within your fortitude and you're right.

So thank you, Maddy. Go ahead. Yeah, spot spot on with that, I think.

Negotiate your salary always. Recruiting is going to hate that I said that.

Oh, yeah. Sorry. We love you. If they hand an offer to you, they really want you.

That usually is the case. So you have some leverage there.

And I would say reverse engineer your progression. If you're in a role and you want to get to the next step, go to your boss and say, what does it take for me to get to this step?

Let them write it down, put it in an email so that it's formalized and then say, OK, usually people do this in a year.

But if I achieve this in six months, would you give me that progression in six months?

They say yes. You reverse engineer it. Right. And you just start working towards that.

Of course, there's corporate things. I see all the bosses looking. Don't look at them.

Don't look at them. It's fine. Keep going. I told you. Gems. And and salary windows and all that.

But there's other ways that you can progress. You know, if it's not salary stocks, if you're in a traded company, whatever it is.

But reverse engineer it, set yourself up for success. Right. And get insights from people outside of your company that are in similar roles.

People are often more guarded within their role to talk about salary if you're in the same company.

But if you're in different companies, often a stranger will even tell you, you know, this is kind of the benchmark in this area.

And then you have something to work with.

No, absolutely. And I think having those open conversations just helps everybody across the board establish and understand where they should be.

So not just money wise and salary, but also what are you doing in your day to day?

If you share the same title with somebody else, do you do the same?

They seem like they're under a lot of stress. Is that because they're poorly coordinated?

Had they did a lack in time management or are you not doing enough? And it's giving yourself questions and then realizing, OK, is it time for me to take on more responsibility?

Are those the responsibilities of a role that's just in the next part of my hierarchy, my team?

And constantly kind of checking in. If you're not checking in, you don't have benchmarks.

Where are you going? Where are you going?

You can't see a pathway. You can't see where it is that you're trying to get to next.

So definitely. I told you, everyone, these ladies right here, the gems that they've shared.

I'm happy. So I have another question because, of course, Maddy, let's go to yourself.

Can you share any strategies or techniques for effective networking?

Yes. See, I've brought it round.

And building meaningful connections within the tech industry. Definitely.

So, well, number one, attend events like this. And then I think when you speak to people, just be generally interested in them and speak to everybody.

Because I've attended a lot of networking events in tech.

And what I see is that a lot of people, for example, I go to the event and I want to speak with, I want to become a soft engineer.

So I'm only speaking to soft engineers. But that's a mistake because you're missing out on so much knowledge.

Even if you speak to, I don't know, technical rights, I always say engineer.

So just be interested in everybody because there's something to learn from everybody.

And then I think we'll connect with them on LinkedIn and make sure you reach out to them on a regular basis, maybe every six months or whatever.

Invite them for a coffee or another tech networking event.

So you keep that meaningful connection going. Beautiful.

Thank you. We'll go in order. Yeah, me, apart from events like this, it's very much online.

I go on LinkedIn. I do research on who's posting articles on such and such that's of interest to me in tech.

And then I reach out to them. I say, oh, do you have people like to be interested in themselves?

If you just drop a message on LinkedIn and say, hey, I'm such and such.

I've seen the article that you've written about this and this and that or your post.

Very interesting. Do you have 20 minutes where we can talk about it?

I'm very interested in ABC. And people often love that they have time to and we go back to mentoring, giving the knowledge, spreading the knowledge.

And that's something people like doing. And you have no idea how many people I reach out to and how many people say, yes, I've got 20 minutes.

I do that outside my working hours. Don't worry. So it's a lot of 20 minutes after work, but I do reach out to a lot of people when I want to extend my knowledge.

That's what I do. It's very, very important. And like Maddy said, don't just go to one person.

Ask who else do you think I should go and and reach out to this person and that person.

And they will tell you, oh, let me refer you to that person.

I'll do I'll make the introduction. And then before you know it, you've got a big network of individuals.

And the main thing is to stay in touch with those people.

It's good. It could be on a I don't wait six months. I do it like every two, three weeks.

I would say happy birthday. How are you? How is the things going?

And they tell you about their wives, their partners, whatever. And they're like, oh, it's their birthday, blah, blah, blah.

And then and then that's how you become you don't become just a somebody.

You become a person. And, you know, it's I go by what Maya Angelou says.

You can say people will forget what you say to them.

They forget what you do for them, but they will never, ever, ever forget how you make them feel.

And that's a skill that it's very important when you want to extend your network.

Beautifully said. Yeah. Plus on both of those things. Also, I think.

OK, a couple of things show up authentically, at least I used to be really worried about coming across really professional and I have my blazer with my padded shoulders today, but, you know, not being fully myself, which can be a little bit goofy and a little bit silly.

When I'm at networking events and just trying to be super professional.

And I feel like that kept a lot of relationships very surface level, even though I thought I was putting my best foot forward.

I've learned that, you know, showing my personality, being myself makes me a little bit more memorable and has helped me more in creating those connections with a lot of the time.

The people like if you're making somebody laugh, maybe they will remember you a little bit better and follow up on that email you send them later on.

That's one thing.

And then beyond that, I wouldn't take your existing network for granted.

You have friends that you have close relationships with currently. And even though you can kiki with them and hang out with them and talk about day to day things and brush over maybe work things.

Why not talk about work, the challenges you're facing currently and seeing what they can offer, where they're working.

They might know someone who knows someone, I think, really reframing some of your conversations with your existing network to leverage them is something that I've learned has helped me.

Yeah, for sure. And I think adding on top as well. You don't have to just keep it to LinkedIn.

I am always reaching out to people and nine times out of 10 isn't on LinkedIn.

It will be on Instagram. I will swiftly move into the DMs.

My profile picture has red in the background. It's like a ball.

I'm here. Whether it's, no, I refuse. It's Twitter. Whether it's Twitter, I find that I'm more comfortable on those platforms.

And if I'm already comfortable, why not utilize those?

I've already made an audience who are not just followers.

They're not fans. They're friends. They're people I have a rapport with.

They're people I've met in real life. So if the idea of LinkedIn scares you, because it scared me for a while, I didn't use it for years.

And now I do. But I still go to my Instagram, my Twitter, et cetera, because I'm comfortable there.

And it's not frowned upon.

You have experts in the tech industry right there. They want to be engaged with.

And as this wonderful lady said today, if you're seeking mentorship, if you're seeking understanding advice, where to go next, they're also on other platforms as well.

So I have one last question just to wrap up, which would be, what do you believe organizations should take to create more diverse and inclusive workspaces for black women?

I'd say keep it to two points each. No pressure.

Maybe one. No pressure. I would say education, education, education, education, educate on differences, whether it's for the black community, whether it's for the Muslim community, the Jewish community, the LGBT community, educate your employees, educate everyone.

With events like this, events that we have, we regularly have events at Cloudflare.

And the second thing would be advocate. Advocate is very, very, very important to me for an organization.

It's OK to educate, but what is education without advocating for you, defending you?

So having in place those things where you feel safe to be yourself.

And the third one is celebrate. Having a celebration of who you are is very important.

And I think that companies should do that more and more.

So educate, advocate and celebrate the difference. That's what I would say. Beautiful, beautiful.

Thank you. And just before we go on to another panelist, I actually have a question from Trudy, if you could, please.

Do you feel supported in your professional development?

And if so, do you have examples of this?

I'm not going to give you examples, but I am fully, fully supported by my managers, by wonderful, wonderful, amazing human being managers and directors.

And Neil and Ida, who are there every single day to say, oh, you want to do A, B, C.

Let's do this and let's do that. How about the how about this?

Where do you want to where do you see yourself in a year's time? Let's do it in a six month time.

I want to achieve this and this and this and that. And then you've got to plan because a project without a plan is just a dream.

And yes, I am very, very, very supported here.

We have wonderful, wonderful senior management in place.

And the people who we surround ourselves here are absolutely amazing.

Yes. So I know we're not supposed to speak about this. It's fine. A little appreciation is fine.

Yes. Go ahead, Madhu. I feel supported too. I just have a different perspective.

So the way I feel supported by my manager is by her creating a safety place for me to raise my concerns.

So having that psychological safety is super important because if I cannot raise my concerns and everything that scares me in doing something or achieving something, then I'm just not going to achieve it at all.

So in that sense, my manager is great at creating that psychological safety for me to raise my concerns to overcome the challenges that I have.

Beautiful. And I think that's really, really important. And Kira. Yeah, same.

I swear we're not being paid for this. But I really feel that for the first time in my career, I really have.

I've had two leaders that are two advocates for me and that it felt like when I was competing for not competing, but trying to get promoted, that they were fighting alongside me.

And that they were navigating the bureaucracy with me as well.

They were like, this is probably a hurdle you're going to face.

This is how we prepare you for it. This is how we get around this.

And making me aware of opportunities that I didn't even know existed.

So definitely first place that I feel extremely supported. And I think that's invaluable, having those support systems.

Absolutely, for sure. And thank you for the virtual question.

Oh, right on time. Thank you. So we're actually going to move on to our spotlight.

No? Yeah. Okay. No, we won't move on just so swiftly.

Do we have any other virtual questions, Trudie? Brilliant.

Did everyone hear that? You sure? Okay. Repeat it. So I believe the question was, how best can I put myself in front of recruiters?

How best can I prepare myself?

And that was the question? How best can I prepare myself for the interviews?

Maddy, please. So my number one tip is to read about the company. Literally understand what the company does and the company's mission is super important.

Because otherwise you're just going to the interview and then they will notice that you're just clueless.

So you need to understand what the company does and the different products that we offer.

And to do this, well, you can also reach out to employees on LinkedIn.

Like a lot of employees are very active on LinkedIn on Twitter.

So they can give you so many invaluable tips that are going to help you for the interviews.

So these are my two tips, to be honest. So read about the company and reach out to the employees on social media.

So LinkedIn or Twitter. Gems.

Thank you. Leila. I would say, yes, read about the company, of course, knowledge.

We go back to knowledge, but not just on the company website. Find other ways.

Find somebody who talks about Cloudflare on YouTube. That is not somebody from Cloudflare.

Find other resources that talks about Cloudflare and from another perspective.

So you understand it. You have a more of a rounded approach of what Cloudflare does.

It's not just like, oh, Cloudflare does ABC.

No, you see it from other people's perspective. And the second one is, yeah, of course, reach out to employees, but don't give up.

Don't give up. Even if you're not successful on the first round, don't give up.

Continue applying if that's what you want.

And Cloudflare is a great, great company to work for. Not being biased here, but it's an amazing company to work for.

If you're not successful the first time, go back again.

Lee Sam, who is the global head of EMEA recruitment here, will tell you, I applied the first time in 2019, then COVID hit.

So we stopped. And then I called Lee and I said, I will be here.

And I'm telling you, I will be here. And never give up.

Never give up. Thank you. And I would love to hear what you have to say, Kira.

But we are moving on to the spotlight with Tracy. Thanks, Jade.

I really appreciate the introduction. I am really excited to be here today.

When Trudy asked me to do this spotlight, I wasn't sure if I had something compelling to offer, to be frank, with all of you.

And I really appreciate each of you turning up to hear what I might have to say.

And I hope that what I say does impact you and frames the conversations today in a way that opens you up to different perspectives.

I don't normally speak a lot about diversity. Not because it's not important to me.

It is something that is completely aligned with everything I do.

But I tend to think of speaking about diversity or getting on LinkedIn or companies espousing their diversity priorities as really just talking to all of the same people who support all of those same ideals.

There's a lot of synergy.

And everyone is cheering on that statement. But in reality, the work behind the scenes is what matters.

It doesn't matter what you say. It matters what you do.

And when I started to think about that, how I wanted to approach this today is really in a way thinking of approaching this from a perspective of categorical thinking.

Right? As humans, we like to classify things. Good. Bad. She's tall.

He's short. Introverted. Extroverted. Liberal. Conservative. We put people in these categories because it's easier then to attribute quality or traits to that person.

You know, if there's a label that you are extroverted, everyone thinks of you as outgoing and bubbly and talkative.

All of those things. Right? Whereas it's just as likely an introverted person might be all of those things but only one to one.

But when we categorize people that way, you don't ever get to see that.

No one is wholly good or wholly bad. There can be two truths to one event. Two people can experience even this event today, even this conversation, even what I'm saying, in two totally different ways.

And diversity requires that you be able to acknowledge that truth.

You can't believe and support diversity if you don't believe that there are absolutely two perspectives, multiple perspectives to anything you might say or do.

So as we go throughout today, really what I want you to think about is the impact of categorical thinking.

The impact of believing that someone is wholly good or wholly bad.

You know, during the pandemic, after the George Floyd murder, everyone stopped because they were forced to look at that.

They were forced to acknowledge that there are problems within the police force, that there are problems within our society, and they couldn't look away.

They couldn't deny that there was an alternative experience in America where it was not the same, it was not equal, and it was not good.

That is, and now that, you know, that wave has kind of subsided, we're all kind of retreating back into our corners.

So I want to draw you out of your corners again with the categorical thinking.

So categorical thinking is, again, putting a label on something and attributing traits, qualities to that particular thing.

And why that's dangerous is when you think about anything categorically, you tend to treat everybody in that particular category the same.

So if you meet a short woman named Diane and you say all short women named Diane are rude because that one person was rude to you, that's categorical thinking.

If you feel like all conservatives are evil, that's categorical, that's kind of compressing people into the same category.

It's attributing all the same qualities to that person.

But then what that does is that anybody that doesn't fit that label is different, is other, is less than.

So if you say all conservatives are great, liberals are bad, if I say I believe something that a liberal person would believe, I'm automatically a liberal.

It amplifies all the differences between people who share your label and people who don't.

And what that tends to do is you favor your category over the one that you don't know, you don't understand, or you're just not in contact with all that often.

And then what happens is that tends to be cemented into place. And the very kind of discrimination or bias or kind of sense of othering someone becomes cemented in stone.

It becomes cemented in stone. And over time it creates a gap between those people.

And diversity, everyone thinks diversity is great, right? And it is.

But only if it's voluntary. And voluntary diversity means that you reject categorical thinking, you reject the labels, you reject, oh, my gosh, this doesn't fit this label so I'm going to treat it differently.

You reject that. And you don't fall into that line of thinking.

So you're probably wondering where I'm going to follow this.

If you are here today, what I'm going to challenge you to do is to get rid of your categories.

Not think of any person in your organization as wholly good or wholly bad.

I want you to be able to acknowledge that your experience could still be fundamentally different from someone else's.

You could, the same person who is respectful to you, loves you, supports you, could be equally unsupportive, equally negative to another person.

I give you my uncles as an example.

I have one uncle who I love dearly who since I was a kid has just treated me like his little princess.

But I also know that my uncle has sexist patriarchal views that I do not support, would not support, and I call him on it.

And it doesn't make him less good.

But it makes him partly good, partly bad. And I want you to think about the things that you do that could fit that same description.

I am a good person, but I've done bad things. And the older I get, the more I realize that good people do bad things all the time.

I could absolutely be so hyperfocused on an issue that I don't pay attention to what someone else is saying to me.

And when I do that, that person could feel excluded, that person could feel that I don't like them, that person could feel like I'm treating them less equal to the person who's working on the object that I'm focused on.

Right? So all this to say, right, recognize, again, that good people do bad things all the time.

Bad people do good things all the time. Smart people do stupid things all the time.

And stupid people do smart things all the time. And I probably shouldn't have used that word.

But I want to be really clear. None of us are perfect.

And if you are here today, I am just going to challenge you to consider those areas where you are less than perfect, where you have maybe talked a lot but not acted a lot.

Where maybe you have said, oh, you know what, everything is fine and discounted someone's perspective because it wasn't yours or it wasn't part of the kind of label that you have attached to that person or to yourself.

You know, we like to think of ourselves as good people.

But again, good people do bad things all the time.

Anyway, I don't want to ramble on anymore. I just want to leave you with this.

When we share our perspectives, we share progress. Because in understanding where someone else is, what their view of a particular situation is and how it's different from yours, you are able to become a more holistic person and to take people along with you in a way that you wouldn't if you didn't acknowledge that difference of perspective.

So with that, I'm going to turn it back over.

I'm going to turn it back over to Jade. And I hope you all find today interesting, compelling, and that you take it away and you act on the perspectives that you heard today.

That was truly beautiful. Thank you, Tracey. And I know they're going to be watching live as well.

So thank you so, so much. Today, this evening, has been an absolute joy to hear from these three women here who have been nothing but candid, authentic, and true.

They've spoken so freely about their own experiences and the advice that, you know, they wish they had gotten or wish they had known sooner.

And with that, I would just like to also thank you all.

Thank you so, so much. And all of you, all of you beautiful people who have sat here patiently, listened, the smiles, the smiles help, the smiles help.

Thank you.

Beautiful faces. But also, I would like to thank the following. And also, a special thank you to Alonzo, Jason, Gabriela, and the Cloudflare TV.

Michelle, Ella, Dilshan, Nicholas, Judy, Scott, Samantha, and of course, our London Places team.

So thank you, everyone, for coming this evening. And I'm going to hand over to Trudy, the person that made this event possible to close us out.

That was not the plan.

Hello, everyone. I just wanted to thank you all so much for attending the Black Women in Tech event here at Cloudflare.

This event was put together so that we can create a platform for black women to be able to express themselves, for us to educate others on the difficulties that we face on a daily basis.

And as Leela said very eloquently, education is the key. So that's it. Thank you, because I didn't plan anything.

Thank you all so much.

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