Dayo AkiniradeI am the founder and CEO of Wisdom, Wisdom is a social audio app with the mission to democratise access to mentorship and create an open and diverse community centred on knowledge-sharing.

My journey in tech started as an IT Management Consultant at the ‘Big 4’. Then, driven by the lack of diversity in London’s tech ecosystem, I joined the founding team of OneTech, London’s largest diversity in startups programme, backed by the JP Morgan Chase Foundation. My first venture into startup was Africlick, a cultural dating app targeting 1 billion Africans globally.

Prior to this I studied for a B.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of Manchester and a M.Sc. in Technology from University College London.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

As a child my mother was pursuing a PhD and she spent vast amounts of time in her computer room. So from an early age, I had a sense that computers were important and knew I wanted to work with computers one day. I occasionally will sit down and plan my career, although I plan only a few years in advance as, in my experience, the tech industry advances quite rapidly and opportunities more than a few years away can be impossible to predict. I aim to create where I hope the industry will go and then focus intently on executing toward my goal.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Having worked in London’s largest diversity startup program, I’ve observed firsthand how lack of access to mentors contributes to systemic inequity and disadvantages founders from minority groups. I observed that would-be mentors on LinkedIn have a clear problem: they have no way of engaging the many inbound requests they receive so they ignore them all, unless they get a “warm introduction,” which is itself a crystallisation of systemic inequality. Hence, Wisdom was born from my mission to democratise access to mentorship using the power of social audio technology.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

In March 2022, Wisdom was featured App of the Day in Apple’s App Store with Apple saying ‘Logging into Wisdom is like showing up at a party powered by conversations between thought leaders and big thinkers’. Given that the App Store has approximately 2 million apps, I was overwhelmed with gratitude that Apple recognised our mission and decided to feature Wisdom.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Unfortunately, resilience, as a Black woman in tech I am often underestimated, with experienced individuals often expressing surprise and disbelief at my education and qualifications. I say ‘unfortunately’, as the tech industry must continue efforts to #breakthebias.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

When job hunting, do not just select the company with the highest salary, candidates should consider the company culture and what archetype of person is successful there and if their personality is a natural fit.  Candidates often do not consider that job hunting is a two-way fit between the employee and employer.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

I believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, although the barriers are often invisible and structural which presents an additional challenge to overcome. Companies that employ large workforces should seek to embed diversity and inclusion into every aspect of the organisation, including their products, brand, team, processes and policy. Once a company is authentically diverse, it will naturally attract women to work there.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

My observation from consulting for high-growth tech companies, is a trend where organisations are experiencing ‘diversity fatigue’. Human Resources departments are managing multiple diversity initiatives and justifying return on investment is a challenge. I think companies can benefit from holistically examining the company culture and being honest about what archetype of individual is successful within their structure. Oftentimes that archetype embodies stereotypically male characteristics. When that is so, a deeper examination and ultimately transformation of company culture may be required.

There are currently only 21 percent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Studies have indicated that genderisation at the earliest stages of child development can impact their future career choices. I would raise awareness on genderisation of children as related to gender-specific toys and attitudes to girls in STEM subjects – which hopefully would go some way to increasing the pipeline of women opting to participate in tech. Encouraging curiosity and leadership and the embracing of hard-fought skills like mathematics and science in our girls must be intentional.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I recommend that women who work in the tech industry seek out a set of mentors that can serve as a sounding board and trusted community of advisors. Today, information is readily available on the internet, however, mentorship brings benefits beyond information. It provides an external challenge from a fresh perspective and enables an individual to benefit from the mentor’s lived experience. Women in tech can use the insight and advice from a mentor, to accelerate their desired career outcomes. Of course, Wisdom is a great platform to connect with mentors.