October is Black History Month in the UK. A time of reflection and celebration and an opportunity to look at how far the community have come. There is still work to be done, by everyone – but in the spirit of Black History Month, it’s important to show the future generation to always find joy and know there is always hope. Up first, we meet Helena and Olayemi.
Helena Mubiru – Marketing Manager, EMEA
Olayemi Usman – Sustainability Project Quantity Surveyor, EMEA
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Helena: Black History Month is a month to not only look back on what has been achieved by the whole Black community, but also a time to celebrate how far we’ve come and the future.
Olayemi: Black History Month to me is a month to remember all the prominent Black people in the past and currently. It is also a chance to unite the Black Community from all heritages and celebrate together. We can collectively look back on the past, appreciate how far we’ve come and look forward to the future.
What makes an inclusive workplace?
Helena: An inclusive workplace is an environment where differences are not only welcomed, but encouraged. Differences are acknowledged but opportunities are offered to all. Inclusivity in the workplace doesn’t have to be hard – if all employees are seen, respected and there are equal opportunities for all, then it won’t be hard for companies to put words into action.
Olayemi: An inclusive place is where you can express yourself, and you’re not afraid to share your up and down times. You have no fears in speaking your truth because everyone is open-minded.
Who inspires you?
Helena: My family – We are first-generation immigrants to the UK. Born in Uganda, I’ve seen my parents, uncles, aunts and cousins strive to work-hard in everything they do. In saying that, we have a big ‘work hard, play hard’ attitude in my family, which means we enjoy ourselves just as much as we work. If you’ve ever been to Ugandan party, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about!
Olayemi: My mum – I watch her striving for us to have a better life. A better life to her is a good education, living a life where you can express yourself and have pure freedom.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Helena: Something that my parents always encouraged me to do is, do what makes me happy. Knowing this from a young age, I always marched to the beat of my own drum . Instead of doing what’s expected of you, go after what you want with hard work, dedication and kindness. Completing my Marketing masters at age 25 has still been one of the best decisions I’ve made – it’s never too late to go for what you want.
Lastly, try not to compare yourself to others. You can have anything you want, but you just need to remember that everyone is on their own journey. So, don’t compare where you are, or what other people have to yourself because you’ll take away the joy of getting there.
Olayemi: Well, I’m still young! But I would say to take chances and always learn to adapt quickly. Life isn’t always a bed of roses, there will be good times and bad, but don’t let what you can’t control worry you. Spend more time enjoying where you are because everything will always fall into place.
Do you have any recommendations?
Helena: I love books and films (I know, everything in balance), so here are my favourite books and things to watch:
📺 Coming to America, Scandal and Champion
Olayemi: 🎧 Music means a lot to me, so here are some of my favourite songs:
Last Last – Burna Boy
Unavailable – Davido
Peace – Mohbad