Celebrating our alumni during Black History Month: Aisha’s perspective

An image of Aisha Adedeji infront of a black background.

As we mark Black History Month (BHM), we also celebrate the achievements of our alumni. Here, alumna Aisha Adedeji – a member of the Alumni Advisory Board – has shared an insight into her perspective on Black History Month as well as her career and some personal experiences.

Q: Can you tell us about your career experiences? What successes and challenges have you faced so far?

"Until recently I was a Relationship Director at a large bank. I took some months out to focus on my side hustles before then joining a payments fintech.

"My interests outside of work are evident in my side hustles. I used to play basketball before I injured myself at Loughborough, so I now coach basketball to under 18s. I love teaching and mentoring, so I launched a company called TheHustleTable which allows me to tutor mathematics and financial literacy, whilst using social media to coach finance. I now live in Nigeria - I moved there to pursue my side hustles.

"Whilst at the bank I had a few successes in my career, whether that was completing specific financial exams or featuring on the bank’s website and social media, winning awards, or even becoming a Relationship Director – they were all pinnacle points in my career.

"One of the reasons I actually left the company was because I encountered a few racial experiences. For example one of my colleagues told me my hair was "too urban" for the event we were hosting...my hair was tied up in a bun. I have also had clients make remarks about where I come from and joke about the fact that they think I'm going to fraudulently take their money. These experiences seemed to become more regular the higher up I went in the company. This was hard to deal with initially but by joining various diversity networks I was able to figure out who to speak to to report these incidents.

"I have learnt the importance of speaking up, especially in large organisations because they have a responsibility to their employees, and they are also most affected by reputation risk, so these large organisations need to take these allegations seriously. Don't be afraid to speak up." 

Q: What is the importance of Black History Month to you?

"BHM is a reminder of where black people were years ago, how far we have come, but also how far we have to go as a race. BHM is a reminder to keep pushing, it is also a time of reflection. For example, the stresses my parents had to go through racially are not things I have ever encountered to that extent. Maybe to a lesser extent I have. So, BHM is a period of reflection, celebration and motivation for me."

Q: What is something you would like people to reflect on, or act on, during Black History Month?

"Moving to Nigeria and leaving my 9-5 and confronting the subtle racism I had experienced at work took a lot of courage, especially as I was scared about my next move. I don't advocate for people to leave their jobs but I do advocate for people to take risks, don't be afraid to speak up and/or make tough decisions because everything is a lesson. If something doesn’t work how you want it to, try again." 

For more information about the University’s Black History Month events programme, visit the website.