BYP talked with Sarah Olubunmi, Digital Business Programme Lead at Multiverse, to hear more about how she got to where she is today and what advice she has for other Black professionals to help them get to where they want to be.
Sarah Olubunmi is all about building community. When setting her intentions at the beginning of 2021, she focused on what brought her joy. Building up others and helping them develop their professional skills was a big contributor to her happiness. She tells us that finding space to highlight your skills and build upon your growth opportunities could be the key to finding your own happiness.
Self-awareness is a major key.
BYP: In your current role, what are some of your career targets and how did you come to curate these?
Olubunmi: My current role at Multiverse is Digital Business Programme Lead, and I got here by being intentional about my own development. Earlier this year, I sat down and thought about what gives me joy, what are my core strengths, and what do I want to achieve next. This process helped me to recognise I was really good at solving problems, strategising, and developing people. So, I wanted a role where I could manage a team and have the scope to solve business problems. I also wanted to learn how to be an effective and inspirational leader, and how to leverage my skills to drive change.
With all of this information, I put together a really clear plan to outline the skills I wanted to develop and what I was doing to achieve them. Then an opportunity came along and I was the right person for the role because I was already preparing for the next step in my career by working through my plan.
BYP: Upskilling is a key component in anyone’s career, what are some of the measures you have taken to enhance your skills?
Olubunmi: The first thing for me is to be really self-aware. Think about what your core strengths are and how you can develop these further, and also understand where your blind spots exist. It’s important to recognise these so that you can work on them or delegate effectively, depending on the circumstance. The second thing is to leverage the people around you. We all experience firsts, but often someone else might have experienced something similar and you can learn from them and model their behaviour while making it authentic to you. The third thing is to get mentors and sponsors within your organisation, learn from their experiences and find people who will champion you when you’re not in the room.
When it comes to your career, it’s OK to go off the beaten path.
BYP: Higher education is no longer the only route to certain careers. What is your advice to those who have taken a non-traditional path into their chosen fields?
Olubunmi: I love this question because this is exactly what Multiverse is all about! We’re building an outstanding alternative to university and corporate training, creating a diverse group of future leaders. To achieve this, we provide high-quality apprenticeship programmes that combine work, training, and community.
Olubunmi: My advice to those who have taken a non-traditional path is to recognise your own value. I have heard from some of my apprentices that they feel like they have to prove themselves. But ultimately, whether you’ve gone to university or not, once you enter the world of work it’s a totally different environment and we’re all in learner mode. So, be self-aware and self-assured about the value that you bring to any organisation.
Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself.
BYP: What does changing the Black narrative look like to you?
Olubunmi: Growing up I often felt like my career options were limited to either a very corporate professional role or something creative. For me, changing the Black narrative is about creating new aspirations and goals for Black people across all different walks of life. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur, you can be an intrapreneur. You can work in tech and not be technical. For me, it’s about owning and being present in different spaces across industries. Impossible is nothing. We aren’t confined to certain roles, we can do whatever job we want and become as senior as we want to be. Changing the narrative for me means that you don’t have to mold yourself into this stereotype of what a young Black woman is but actually, you can do whatever you want to do.
BYP: What are your key takeaways for BYP network members?
- Don’t be afraid to be the pioneer at the forefront of change. But don’t put pressure on yourself to be excellent either, just try to be comfortable with sometimes having to be the first person to do or achieve something and be proud of that
- Be international about what you want, be clear with senior leaders in your business about your goals and they will appreciate it
- Find a mentor and a sponsor who you can learn from and who can advocate for you when you’re not in the room
The final word.
Olubunmi: As a Black professional, you’re not alone if you sometimes feel stuck or lost in the corporate world. Even in today’s climate of “social awareness”, it can feel isolating if you don’t see yourself in professional spaces. Multiverse set out to create new paths to a fulfilling career. The partnership between Multiverse and BYP is one way we’re working to bridge the gap between traditional career paths and more unconventional journeys. The shared mission to offer more access to fulfilling career opportunities for Black professionals is a unifier like none other, and we’re committed to the cause.
To learn more about Multiverse or to apply for their available opportunities please visit their BYP jobs board here.