Ten years ago, I was on track to become a corporate lawyer. I had just completed a summer placement at a huge law firm in central London and had a number of suits pressed and ready for interviews to secure that final placement, post graduation. Yet I had a strong feeling that I wouldn’t be entirely happy being a lawyer. Instead, I had dreams of working within the entertainment field.
This desire grew stronger as I was coming to the end of my law degree at the University of Kent. So much so that I didn’t apply for any legal placements. Instead, I sought out opportunities in the entertainment industry. Two internships later, and after forging my own opportunities, I landed a great role at EMI record label.
It was a great time to be there. It was on the cusp of digital streaming, which allowed me to get a taste of how technology could push and disrupt an industry.
Although I was an eager 21-year-old in the glamourous music world, the effects of the recession made me observant of trends, and accepting of change and flexibility. After three years at EMI, armed with this new mindset, I wanted my next move to be within the tech space, while still leveraging my music industry experience.
I headed over to Lovelive as a product manager. It was completely different to EMI. Whereas EMI was eventually sold and split between Universal and Warner Music, proving that the traditional music business model needed adaption, LoveLive was a nimble start up, building video content experiences and technology for the next generation.
The stark contrast between the two companies enabled me to always remain flexible. They also helped me to transition and develop a whole new set of skills that led me to the Cornell University MBA programme in New York. I then went to work at Verizon many years later.
In 2018, the tech industry has become the go to world that many women want to crack open, which I support. We need more women and people of colour, not just in engineering positions, but also in product marketing, strategy, technology branding, design, user experience – the list goes on.
I am a huge advocate and believer that women with a desire to work in the tech space can utilise their skills and experiences from every other role they have held. Since technology can impact every part of our lives, the experience we’ve had different in professions can aid our success in tech. That is one stereotype that I have been very vocal about dismantling as I want to make working in tech as accessible as possible for all women.
I currently achieve this by mentoring young girls via the WiTNY group in New York City, and other initiatives. I enjoy sharing my experiences with young talent and letting them know that their dreams can be achieved.
Here are my five top tips for emerging digital natives:
Develop human connections
Despite most of your business being online, there’s nothing like strong human connections.
Never stop learning new skills
This applies to outside of the classroom. Even when I’m not in a school setting, I find time to do side projects which enhance my digital and technology skills. The industry is changing so fast that it’s the best and most fun way to keep on top of your game.
Find your passion and run with it
The thing you love to do might not always be the biggest trend, but stick with it if you love it.
Stay flexible and ready for change at any time
The industry moves so fast and the pace of technology moves even faster. When building products and platforms, it’s ok to make mistakes. Just iterate and iterate again. That is the beauty of technology.
Trust in your ability and celebrate your successes
No matter how small or insignificant they may be to others, take time out to celebrate your successes. Women tend to be shy about these things, but the more we celebrate ourselves and others, the more likely we will be encouraged to do bigger and better things.
About the Author
Hackney-born Tosin Adeniji (aged 30), who was raised in East Ham, found inspiration in her formative years from constantly being told that she lived in the “poorest borough in London”, surrounded by council estate parties, drugs and teenage pregnancies. She didn’t listen and finished high school with 11 A-B grades in her GCSEs and went on to study International Law at the University of Kent. Instead of being an entertainment lawyer, as planned, she became a PR intern at music companies. She began her entertainment marketing career at Vision PR, then Metropolis Studios before her big break with EMI/Universal Records and Lovelive. Over six years she had worked with over 100 artists, including Coldplay, A$AP Rocky, Raphael Saadiq, Tyler the Creator and Katy Perry. She even partied with Adele in Notting Hill. Her next move was to New York to do an MBA at Cornell University. Since graduating, Tosin uses her marketing expertise and media content experience as a product manager in Verizon’s dedicated Innovation Lab.