Black In Tech Fest 2019

Facebook's Black in Tech Fest was held on 23rd October 2019 to celebrate black excellence in the tech industry. Our Director Izzy Obeng took to the stage as a panellist.


The wet, cold weather did nothing to stop 300+ guests from lining up outside Facebook’s Rathbone to attend this year’s ‘Black in Tech Fest’.

In accordance to the event’s theme: ‘Unlock Your Superpower’, all attendees had to identify which of the 5 strengths; voice, vision, words, connections and creativity they were going to wear as a badge of honour (literally) to form new connections.

From the tropical ginger cocktails, the delicious portions of jollof rice, plantain and stew, stalls offering tribal face paints, Ankara dresses, kente print flower vases and live drum performance no aspect of the room was left untouched to emphasise the cultural richness and brilliance of black people.

The night got underway with founder and CEO of Tristan Capital Partners, Ric Lewis, delivering the keynote speech. With over 20 years of experience working within the technology and investment field and having dealt with more than £15bn under asset management, best believe that the 2018 Powerlist numero uno had the audience fully captivated.

Below are some key takeaways from his speech:

“Integrity and authenticity really matter” – it does not matter what industry you’re in, or how talented you are at your job, your personality still matters, and it is what people will remember in deciding to do business with you or not

“Work is supposed to be difficult” – there simply are no shortcuts to success and reaching your ambitions

“Knowing what you’re good at is just as important as knowing what you’re not good at” – self- awareness is key in being able to know your superpower in order to align yourself with the opportunities that are meant for you

Be deeply curious about who you are – we’re all interesting people. We all have unique skill sets that can add value to our community, but we can only know this when we do the work on ourselves and find out what exactly makes us so special.

But the most noteworthy of all of them is:

“Being at peace with your special brand of magic” – meaning to be unapologetic about who we are individually and realising that our differences are what gives us the unique perspective and identity that can give us a better advantage in understanding an untapped market

Also present were four black-owned companies who are helping champion diversity and inclusion within the tech industry are Black Business Show, ColorInTech, Girls Talk and SAY (Serious About Youth) who are doing ground-breaking work in ensuring that young people from a disadvantaged background are aware of the opportunities within tech.

Later on, in the evening there was a panel discussion which included Izzy Obeng, Kike Oniwinde Founder of BYP Network, Eva Simpson of the Daily Mirror and Ric Lewis.

The central topic of conversation was the concept of privilege and how they had defined it in their own professional lives. Izzy’s response of “empathy” being her superpower was profound with the realisation that with 15% of BAME working within the tech we all have been given a mantle that we must carry and not think no contribution is too small in supporting young black people who have never felt represented in the sectors they want to work in.

And 3 ways which Izzy highlighted was the best way the privileged could give back to our community was:

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entrepreneurship is one that can create “economic inclusion” for those who would have otherwise been left behind.

All in all, it was a testament to the fact that we’re no longer waiting for others to invite us to the dinner table but rather we’re throwing our own party – and dancing to our own beat.