I felt there weren’t many black senior role models at the company, and I wanted to make a difference
Updated: Feb 3, 2019
Olu Odubajo shares his experience in a Reverse Mentorship Program when he mentored the Managing Director of the company where he works, on what it feels like to be a junior black colleague. In his words, “The reason he did this was because he felt there weren’t many black senior role models at the company, and he wanted to make a difference since he had the power to do that.” At the end of the experience, Olu’s mentee affirmed a perception shift on how and the need to balance diversity in the company.
Having always wanted to change the world by making the lives of those around him better, in this interview, Olu describes how his career journey with current destination Management Consultancy, started out as a child with a dream to invent, hurdled through one as an architect, civil engineer, economist, and ended where it has.
The one-time semi professional footballer attended a school where his skills were appreciated and encouraged – which made him feel included and more enthusiastic about using them. However, he was also among the bottom set in class because of this. His first experience with mentorship occurred when one of his teachers taught him the art of balancing talent and school work. His second mentee position would be at College with his Maths tutor turned mentor, who transformed his ideals and outlook on life in general.
To the question of why ethnic minorities like the black community is underrepresented in top universities, Olu believes that it is due to the absence of adequate black staff and the disconnection birth because of this with the available staff. From his experiences, people do not always have to reach out to mentors – as with his school teacher. In order to promote inclusion, he encourages black people to be open about what they need by having conversations with people who can support them despite being disadvantaged. He also advises employers to develop empathy and be intentional towards mentorship programs targeted at integrating black people into the working environment.