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Rahel Tesfai

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I worked in a corporate world dominated by white males. Sometimes it was hard to get the recognition I felt I deserved. You second-guess yourself and that affects your confidence...

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Dear Future Self..

Always be the best you can be. You can do anything you put your mind to and there’s still so much I want you to do in life. Remember every moment matters; continue to be kind, laugh as much as possible, and never stop trying.

Tell us a bit about what you do? (job title, business, number of years of service, company).

I am a front-end developer later-turned-marketer, and in 2018 founded FroHub; the appointment booking platform for black hair and beauty. FroHub strives to empower women through technology, by allowing a fragmented and traditionally-offline industry to move online.

How have you been able to navigate your career as a Black woman in Britain?

I worked in a corporate world dominated by white males. Sometimes it was hard to get the recognition I felt I deserved. You second-guess yourself and that affects your confidence. I took these situations as a challenge and I found ways to work even harder and smarter; I felt this brought the situation back within my control. Considering the environment it was perhaps surprising (and saddening) that the most overt discrimination I was subject to was from other women! There were several instances of micro aggression when I chose to wear my hair in a less conventionally white way. I think people are threatened by what they don't understand or are scared of. I took this to mean I was doing my job and getting recognised for a level of output that others weren't capable of so they tried to belittle me in other ways. Needless to say I continued to wear it more naturally.

What is one of the biggest challenges you've faced in your life or career and how did you overcome it?

I have faced several challenges in life; be it because I am black, a woman, or a refugee. However, I take inspiration from what my mother went through when she moved our family to Sweden by herself in her 20s because she wanted a better future for her children. She always had a smile and a cuddle for me and my siblings, and we never wanted for anything. So no matter what life or my career has in store for me, I know nothing will be as challenging as what my mother endured and that inspires me to always carry on with my head held high and my shoulders back ready to tackle anything; I will always stand tall and proud as that's how I have been raised.

Do you have any practical tips for girls/women interested in pursuing a career in your particular field?

Be confident. Have confidence in your ideas, in your intelligence, in your manner, in your voice. Always work hard, and reach out and speak to as many people as possible. It doesn’t really matter what field you are in, those are key qualities.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

It might not be a piece of advice but it’s a parable - the ‘it takes a village to raise a child…’. FroHub takes community very seriously; it’s not enough for the company to just succeed. We want success while raising up and improving the lives of all the people we’re associated with - be that customers or our stylist partners. Then hopefully what we do can help to improve the wider community through a ripple effect.

Our future starts now - with your experiences and everything you now know - what would you tell your future self?

 

Dear Future Self..

Always be the best you can be. You can do anything you put your mind to and there’s still so much I want you to do in life. Remember every moment matters; continue to be kind, laugh as much as possible, and never stop trying.

What resources or book(s) would you recommend to a young woman wanting to level-up in her personal life or career?

There are several great books and podcasts out there, like ‘Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg. But perhaps what is more useful is to network and find great mentors; this will open new opportunities. This can be in person or through social media. A mentor can help with advice and suggestions for your personal life or career path, but can also improve professional socialisation skills; learning to speak to seniors on a more even footing can have a tangible positive impact on your career.

 
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