Ebun (VP Academic Experience) and I received an invitation to a really exciting event in November and we were honoured to attend the launch of the most recently created network for African Caribbean students, particularly those who had involvement with their Students’ Union during their studies. The network already has over 20,000 members and there is a hope to reach 200,000 African Caribbean’s to become the largest of its kind.
The event was comprised of talks from different successful and influential African Caribbean graduates who spoke about the power of networking, the importance of uniting as a community and gave us top tips for excelling in our careers, whatever our chosen paths. One suggestion for creating and maintaining meaningful and mutually beneficial networks that resonates with me is that when approaching a person don’t just consider what they can provide you but think what can you offer them. This doesn’t necessarily have to be anything as complex as work experience or wisdom from your field but it could be some advice for working in your home city or the number of your local barber (!) it really can be that simple. Start small, keep it simple and you will find your network will build at a very VERY quick rate!
We were lucky to receive an inspiring speech from Diane Abbott, the first black woman to hold a seat in the House of Commons, about how to overcome adversity and maximise your own personal potential. Diane infamously had to contest with frequent attacks on her ability as an MP in the late 1980’s because of both her gender and race and she attributed her resilience and ability to focus on her end goals on the strength of her network (built of both colleagues and family) that was able to support her through her hardest times.
The event also saw a speech from Sophie Chandauka, Executive Director and CAO of Morgan Stanley’s Legal and Compliance Division in the EMA. Sophie is no stranger to being successful and influential in whatever industry she steps into, particularly business. Sophie had invited other African Caribbean business people she had met 10, 15 and 20 years previous through networking to this event and they all reminisced about how they had all become successful because of using the power of their networks. The words of Sophie still resonate with me- “Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu" translated to "A Person is a Person because of Others."
The event was really inspiring and both Ebun and I came away eager to attend future A-CAN events. Next time we look to invite students along with us, so keep your eyes peeled for more information in the New Year!