Black History Month 2023 is a momentous occasion to recognise and celebrate the invaluable contributions of black people to British society. Black people have always been at the forefront of social justice movements, fighting against oppression and paving the way for change. To mark Black History Month volunteers at Airwalk Reply are running several events for their peers and the wider Reply network to educate, share knowledge, and celebrate Black contributions to British society. We will also place our Employee Spotlight on some of the brilliant people who work at Airwalk Reply.
Meet Programme Manager Anthony Onyekweli
Why did you join Airwalk Reply?
I joined Airwalk Reply in December 2021 as a programme manager after spending a few years as a contractor and working for a ‘Big 4’ firm. I had previously worked alongside some Airwalkers and was always impressed with their professionalism and personability.
After speaking to several other firms, I felt that Airwalk Reply really embodied, and not just recited their values. Everyone I interacted with was extremely positive and honest, helping to alleviate any anxiousness I had.
Airwalk Reply is also very keen on personal development to both increase the quality of members of staff and also to be able to deliver increased value to clients, which is vital.
Tell us about your career path before Airwalk Reply
I have always enjoyed tinkering and trying to understand innovations in tech and how they can be utilised. That led me down a path of having worked in technology throughout my professional career. After achieving an MSc in Project Management, my first role was working for a Swiss bank. I then spent the next few years working predominantly in technology in banking, only diversifying industries later in my career.
What has been an unexpected challenge along the way?
An unexpected challenge that I have had to deal with is managing stakeholder perceptions within the workplace. When I first started working, I believed that everyone just wanted to do a good job at work and go home. However, having worked in a variety of industries and with many different people, I have developed a better understanding of individual drivers to perform, especially as you develop higher within a company.
I believe that your work speaks for you, but there is also a strong element of stakeholder management and getting the right people to buy into your knowledge and expertise. This is especially true when a client might not agree with what we have recommended.
I have since focused on developing strong stakeholder management and adapted my working style to ensure that the people management and development skillset is well developed; taking onboard the diversity of individuals that I have met along my journey.
Who or what motivates you?
Growing up in various places and being exposed to a number of cultures, my current motivation is making my family comfortable and giving them access to different things than I had access to.
Do you have a piece of knowledge associated with Black History Month that you would like to share?
A key thing for me is that black people are not a monolith. There are Africans (North, East, West and South), Caribbeans (American, British, French, Spanish, Dutch, Danish), Black Americans, Black British, Black Europeans, Afro- and further beyond.
The diversity is amazing, you can find, for example, the tallest people in the world to the shortest, some of the fastest to the slowest, some of the most intelligent, to remote groups without education. Unfortunately, there is a stereotype that is perpetuated which defines expectations of a ‘black person’. Many times, these stereotypes are expectations thrust upon them with no basis.
During Black History Month, it’s important for all of us to consider our subconscious bias towards Black people and what drives that, as well as what we might mean.
Meet Cloud Architect Francis Oliso-Emosingoit click here