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Rene Germain

SEO London alumna 2017

I first became aware of SEO London in 2013, during my first year at Loughborough University, where I was studying International Business. Over the next few years, I realised that I wanted to pursue a career in banking or technology, but the truth was I didn’t know how to go about it. As the only child of a West Indian family, being one of the first people in my family to attend university with hopes of pursuing a career in the corporate world, I didn’t have the network or connections within those industries, which I know can be massively advantageous when starting out. I didn’t know how to prepare for the interview processes for these companies which I knew were rigorous and required careful preparation as they were so competitive. I didn’t believe a young Black woman like me could stood a chance.

Through SEO London, I was able to attend the discovery days, where I was able to able to engage with other people like myself who shared a similar background and circumstances, and learn more about banking and technology companies, their different business areas, what they were looking for in their ideal candidates and how to stand out and best prepare for the application process. I specifically remember attending a Google Insight Day and taking so many notes during the recruiter Q&A sessions, which proved massively helpful when I was applying for a summer internship with them.

In 2017, after almost two years of working in the operations team at a US investment bank I decided to pivot to technology consulting. I was keen to work on innovative projects and be exposed to a variety of different technologies I had not worked with before. As I started to apply for different companies, I received an email from SEO London, as part of their Alumni network newsletter, announcing they were partnering with Accenture on their graduate schemes. After submitting my initial application through SEO London, I successfully got into the assessment centre and interview stages. Once I knew the dates, SEO London immediately arranged for me to have coaching sessions, and over the course of two days I spent several hours with the SEO London advisor practising, so when I got into the assessment centre and interviews, I felt prepared and confident. A few days later, I found out I had been successful in landing a consulting analyst role. I was thrilled and emailed SEO London to inform them and thank them so much because it wouldn’t have been possible without their support, but today I am telling the story of the organisation’s commitment to a wider audience. I also connected with other SEO London candidates who were in similar final stages of the recruitment process and gave them advice on how to prepare, based on my experience.

Fast forward to today, and I am now a Mobile App product manager at American Express and the author of Black and Great: The Essential Workplace Toolkit, a careers book for Black students and professionals, to be published by Coronet Books and available from 12 May 2022.

When I think about my journey, I realise that organisations like SEO London are so vital, especially for individuals like myself from underrepresented backgrounds. Despite the growing focus on diversity and inclusion and the promises from organisations to do better to hire more Black employees, it is still so difficult to get through the door, let alone progress, without a network and a community supporting and advocating for you.

For Black women, there is both racism and sexism as barriers to entry and progresses professionally, which include being viewed through the lens of harmful stereotypes. Several studies and surveys here in the United Kingdom and in the USA have found that Black women are the most likely to be subjected to racial microaggressions, less likely to have a sponsor to help them advance in their career and are significantly underpaid compared to their white peers when accounting for similar roles and qualifications.

I look to my left and my right, and I see some Black women. I look up and I hardly see any at leadership and executive levels. There is still a long way to go, but I would like to thank SEO London for their commitment and hard work to #BreakTheBias.


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