I was born in London to first generation Nigerian immigrants who raised me and my siblings on a council estate in Tottenham. It was my humble beginnings and a strict Nigerian upbringing that encouraged me to look outside of my environment to aim and aspire for more.
I would go to school and the representation of the workplace were my teachers, who would leave their posh homes and areas to come and teach us many of whom were struggling financially from difficult backgrounds. Our first introduction to the working world even as children were those teachers, they were the example of many of the managers we would later encounter in the workplace. As a student, those teachers are the gatekeepers of our future, whether we progress onto the next year or stage in education. In the same way, now managers in our workplaces are empowered as the career gatekeepers and often no matter the sacrifice, the hard work or even our passion for what we do, many of those managers wield their ‘power’ to obstruct or oppress our success, this is something I encountered during the early stages of my career.
I was lost frustrated not understanding that being black and being a Black Woman were often the underlying issues that would affect my career.
I was overlooked ignored bullied managed out and I would always internalise and blame myself for not working hard enough or not being good enough. I soon realised that to be successful in a white construct like the workplace it would require me to be strategic, taking the learnings from every experience and channel it into navigating the workplace safely, all without compromising who I am.
Asserting myself in a professional manner knowing that even with the best intentions people who see my race before they saw me would always consider me aggressive. My job was not to convince my managers that my blackness was non-offensive. My blackness represents beauty, history, strength and success. I navigate the workplace knowing that true career success comes with first accepting that racism is endemic in and out of the workplace, but how I strategically navigate the world of work would determine how successful I would become.
Once I mastered how to navigate the workplace and saw success in my own career I realised that sharing teaching and demonstrating how to navigate the world of work through Toya Talks would encourage Black Women to use the power that sits within us to do the same, to realise their own success.
I have worked for some of the UK’s most well- respected organisations from Goldman Sachs, Price Waterhouse Cooper, Capita and Inmarsat Global to name a few. I am unapologetically honest and have shared my early struggles with dyslexia and then balancing my learning difficulty whilst working and navigating the world of work. Refusing to let my learning difficulty restrict me I have obtained a Law degree, achieved Legal Practice Course (LPC) in law successfully completing law school, achieved a Masters’ in Law and more recently a level 4 diploma at the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply. I use myself as an example of never allowing your learning difficulties to prevent you from achieving your goals.
In a social media age where many influencers sell fantasy to their followers, I have taken the opposite approach and stripped back the veil using my social media platforms, Toya Talks Podcast, Live events and now Toya Talks Master Classes and candid approach to enable Black Women to discover the realities of what it takes to navigate the world of work and use those tools to light the path of their own success.