Young, Black & In Tech: Rore Okoh
Careers in tech are becoming more popular than ever. However, it is sometimes hard for young, black people to break into this industry. We are profiling a range of Black people at different points in their careers to inform & educate anyone interested in tech. First up is Rore Okoh, Product Marketing Specialist.
Tell us about your background. What drew you to tech?
Funnily enough, a career in tech wasn’t even on my radar. At 18 years old, I envisioned a career in investment banking and finance. I studied Geography at university and specialised my research on social issues like gentrification, race and sexuality in urban areas. However, I did work experience at JP Morgan during my first and second year.
I stumbled into the technology industry as I applied for a job at a FinTech firm after failing to secure a graduate scheme in an investment bank after the Brexit vote caused a lot of uncertainty. They liked my interest in finance and hired me to support their Sales team. They specialised in a software service platform that connected their customers with banks to offer Supply Chain Finance and Trade Receivables Finance to restructure their finance to increase their liquidity by unlocking trapped cash in their business.
My first job was a Sales and Marketing analyst intern in a Fintech firm.
Did you face any obstacles along your journey?
I think my biggest obstacle was understanding how to navigate and pivot my career into a more technical role as I stumbled into the industry and come from a non-technical background. I started my career in Sales support, then Product Marketing and now I’m in Product Management/delivery.
I want to become a product manager, and I’d say I’m one career move away from my goal. I had to learn A LOT which is exciting but daunting.
Can you share a short word of advice for other young, Black people wanting to go into tech?
I’d advise young, Black people that there are so many ways to break into the tech industry.
Most tech companies have a Sales, Marketing, Customer Support, Legal department that are always hiring. That is often the way people from a non-technical background get their foot in the door of technology companies and the industry.
Similarly, nearly all industries have technology and innovation taking place. How do I know this? You’re probably using their software at work or in your personal life e.g. FinTech (Finance and Technology) and online banking, EdTech (Education and Technology) and Virtual Learning Environments, Retail and E-commerce, ConstrucTech (Construction and Technology) and CAD design software etc. I’ve always said technology is simply a facilitator for other industries. What I mean by this is that innovation and advancement in technology, that most industries have technology providers supporting their industry.
How can we support you & your work?
I co-founded a platform called The Black Beat where we keep our finger on the pulse of Black British culture. Our mission is to empower, educate and elevate the voices in our community that shape our perspective and experience of being Black and British. Follow us on Instagram @the.blackbeat. We’ve got some exciting things in the pipeline and we are keen to expand into other social media channels.
Also, follow me on my personal Instagram account @roreokoh as I am always keen to network with new people and help non-technical people get into the technology industry.