For Black History Month this year, TechSPARK has teamed up with B in Bath to shine a light on some of the established and emerging Black tech and digital leaders in our community. This time we’re talking to Project Manager Renée Jacobs.
I am a Project Manager at Actual Experience, a software company in Bath. My role can be quite varied as I am part of a small team. On a daily basis I could be managing both technical and business projects and working on the continuous improvement of the project management function within the company.
Your path into the sector?
I kind of got into the technology world by accident. I was working as a Personal Assistant at a digital marketing agency that is part of a larger advertising group, in London. The Founders of the digital marketing arm, where I worked, had developed their own proprietary software for managing search engine optimisation. This was really my first look at what it meant to work in technology.
I quickly realised that I am very interested in software and technology and how it can be used to solve everyday problems. When I left that job and moved to the South West, I decided that I wanted to work at a technology start-up. And here I am.
What interests you about tech/digital?
I really like being around people who enjoy solving problems, think innovatively and embrace change. I feel that technology has the power to change the world for the better and I want to be involved in realising that. I am very entrepreneurial, and the technology and digital sectors embrace that, in the future I am aiming to start my own technology company.
Do you have any thoughts on diversity in the tech/digital industries?
It seems that like a lot of industries, the technology and digital industries struggle with diversity. A lot of this could be due to “start-up culture” and the fact that people tend to hire people like themselves, especially at the early stages of a business. Encouraging people from more diverse backgrounds to start businesses could be one solution to this, and part of that lies in enabling people from these backgrounds to see themselves as founders in the first place.
The diversity question is something that this sector needs to get right. We are creating the tools of the future, and we need to make sure that they work for everyone. We all know about the issue of bias in AI. These types of issues can only be solved by having people from diverse backgrounds involved at all stages of the research, development, build, marketing and sales processes.
Although it is a challenge, I am optimistic. The fact that we can have conversations about these topics is a great first step. The next step is to take action, and that is something that we should all be involved with and take seriously. The sector does not need to stay as it is now. With a focus on action as well as conversation, the technology leaders of tomorrow can be truly representative of the world around them.
Renée Jacobs is a Project Manager at Actual Experience and the Founder of B in Bath. She is passionate about empowering and supporting people from underrepresented backgrounds in the workplace, and she recognises the importance of ensuring diversity of thought and experience in those people who create the technology that permeates all of our lives. Through B in Bath she hopes to enable employers and employees to cultivate a sense of belonging in the workplace; creating an environment where everyone, from all backgrounds, can grow, thrive and belong.