Mary Agbesanwa, Founder of Now You’re Talking accepted to be interviewed by UK Black Business Week. She shared her insights as a Black Woman entrepreneur and career professional and why she endorses UK Black Business Week events.
Meet Mary Agbesanwa, Founder of Now You’re Talking
What was your 1st job; did it have any impact on your career?
”My work experience began with odd summer jobs as a teenager which ranged from tutoring 11+ to working in catering at Tottenham football club and Ascot. Great lessons here related to client engagement and customer service as well as having difficult conversations.
At university, I took a trial and error approach to deciding what I wanted to do. I began interning at a range of financial services firms in order to find what would suit me best. My last internship in my first year of university was in Consulting and I immediately loved working in a team, the client interaction and the variety of the role.
Little did I know I would spend 5 years in consulting, learning all about business transformation across financial services working with leading banks, insurers and asset managers, not just in London but also travelling and working in Germany and South Africa. Throughout these client projects, one thing was clear to me. Digital disruption was coming!
From rolling out new tech such as robotic process automation (RPA) - the use of software robots to automate manual processes in banks to recognising the awful customer experience with online banking wouldn’t work for millennials and Gen Z, it was apparent everywhere. And this is what eventually led me to where I am now, fintech!
What barriers to entry did you encounter early on in your career? How did you overcome?
”Believe it or not, I think my biggest barrier was self-confidence. Working in a large competitive organisation where everyone is intelligent and doing interesting work was tough. You can’t help but compare yourself to others. For instance, coming pretty much straight from university I was one of the youngest in my graduate intake and the only black female graduate in consulting out of over 100 graduates. Intimidating!
My top tips are to embrace standing out and aim to stand out for the right reasons, ie. the one who always asks great questions or who is always taking detailed notes or who is a pro at excel. Your first few jobs are just about being a sponge and absorbing as much as possible and learning what you do and don’t like doing. Finally, I learnt to work hard loudly. Not being afraid to document and vocalise my achievements on a regular basis.
What are you doing to inspire the next generation?
”Whilst at university, I founded the University of Birmingham Women in Finance Society at the end of my first year to demystify the male-dominated industry of financial services and expose young women to top financial services firms. This society was probably the highlight of my university experience.
As the founder and Chair of the Women in Finance Society, I led our steering committee chairing and organising numerous team meetings and accumulating several thousand pounds in sponsorship. When I left university, we were hosting over a dozen events a year, had more than 200 members, a steady social media following and an annual society conference focused on getting female students and young women at local Birmingham secondary schools ready for the Working World, the Working World Ready Conference. I know the society is still up and running today which fills me with great pride!
Post leaving university, I came to experience for myself what it is like to work in a male-dominated industry and it was tough. I quickly set-up the Now You're Talking Network. Which is now a 5-year-old female community and business supporting women to earn more and be more confident. We host our own events and workshops as well as run corporate workshops for a range of leading companies and startups relating to career and personal development. We also have active communication groups, social media and a fortnightly newsletter. And we are an official media partner of the UK Black Business Week so you might see a few of our team and members around in October!
What are you looking forward to at UK Black Business Show?
”Celebrating current and aspiring entrepreneurs, side hustlers and professionals who just happen to be black! The line-up looks incredible and having attended the Birmingham Black Business Show earlier this year, I can’t wait for what is in store this October in London.
I love attending events like these to not only learn but to meet new and like-minded individuals, learn about upcoming trends in tech and lessons from other sectors and to be inspired. You will find me furiously taking notes during the sessions I'm sure!
Now You’re Talking Network is a proud media partner of Black Women Business Talks (Tuesday 18th October | 6pm – 9.30pm), Black Men Business Talks (Tuesday 18th October | 6pm – 9.30pm), Black Tech Careers Fair (Wednesday 19th October | 10am – 4pm), Black Finance Talks (Friday 21st October | 6pm – 9.30pm) during UK Black Business Week. 🎟️ Info and tickets available here.