Macaulay Iyayi has always been aware of cultural differences around him. And from a young age, he learned how to use that awareness to support others.
Over the past ten years, Macaulay Iyayi has helped startups – and one of the biggest global firms – establish and grow technology partnerships to gain entry into emerging markets. In his current role with Colt Technology Services, he’s been able to help build a strategic partnership program from the ground up, within an organisation that prizes collaborative work. He spoke to BYP about how inclusion indirectly informs his work.
BYP: How did you get into your current role?
Iyayi: I was interested in making my next career move to a global organization that was looking to transform digitally and position itself as a technology-led company. Colt had that profile: it’s a telecoms company, building out products and solutions that will enable it to be a “technology-first” company. That was really exciting to hear that company vision.
BYP: What do you find most exciting about your day-to-day responsibilities?
Iyayi: My role has expanded to where I support partnership engagements with the world’s largest data centers. That’s given me ownership and responsibility, so I find that really interesting. Also, the ability to shape the direction we go in terms of supporting the Inclusion & Diversity Agenda via Colts’ YOUnited Network, which represents different faiths, cultures, and backgrounds. Being able to contribute to that is how I like to spend my time outside of my day-to-day. I’m also supporting our partner development track with external partners such as BYP, for example, and helping us evolve that relationship and the value it can bring to Black employees and other ethnic minorities.
BYP: How did your upbringing prepare you for some of the challenges you’ve faced as a Black professional?
Iyayi: I was raised in Lagos, Nigeria, where I attended an American School and that was a real international experience. And I took that mindset that people look at me differently because of my surname and they might not be from the same community as me, but they have their cultural traits as well. Understanding this from a very young age really helped me in transitioning, when I moved to England from Nigeria for school: people are going to look at me differently because I’m in the minority, but my strength is my differentiation. So I really focused on the things that I enjoy and did that really well. I did get pockets of racial slurs; that was quite difficult in my teenage and university years. But it actually made me think: “How can I contribute in my professional career towards supporting younger Black or ethnic minority [professionals]?” So, I try to spend my time mentoring.
If I bring that context into Colt, it’s quite an international environment, so that’s helped me settle in. I do think that people are becoming more aware of race and talking about it. I’ll be fair and transparent: there aren’t that many Black people in leadership positions at Colt, but I know that it’s something we’re conscious of and people are starting to help change. I’m part of Colt’s Talent Accelerator Program from the British Business Awards, so I think that I can be a changemaker.