Sun | Nov 28, 2021

Microsoft pioneer of Jamaican ancestry tops list of most powerful black Britons

Published:Friday | October 15, 2021 | 11:12 AM
Wright said she hoped that the award would further encourage a debate which began last year in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests about making the tech industry more diverse. - Contributed photo.

Tech industry pioneer Jacky Wright, who is of Jamaican ancestry, has been named the United Kingdom's most influential black person by The Powerlist 2022 – the annual list of the UK's most powerful people of African, African Caribbean and African American heritage.

Wright, chief digital officer and corporate vice president at Microsoft US, is widely regarded across the world as one of the most influential black women in the tech industry.

Born in north London, but now resident in the United States, she has been vocal about the need for the tech industry to address its lack of diversity and has been the driving force behind a number of innovative programmes to achieve this goal.

Before working at Microsoft, Wright held high profile roles at BP, General Electric and Andersen Consulting.

In 2017, she was chosen to be chief digital information officer at HM Revenue and Customs.

She spent two years in the position on secondment.

She returned to the software giant in 2019.

Speaking about how she felt to top this year's Powerlist she told The Voice: “ It feels surreal. I'm one of those people who likes to do what they do, but do it quietly. I'm all about change. I've been doing it my entire career and I've focused on how we make this world a better place.”

However, she said she hoped that the award would further encourage a debate which began last year in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests about making the tech industry more diverse.

“I think we're starting to see companies take bold action” she said.

“The question is, will it be enduring? Or will it fall off? I think we are at this point where we have to maintain vigilance in terms of holding companies accountable. Because if we don't the next big thing will come up, and we would have forgotten what we were pledging to do.”

While acknowledging that she is seen as a role model for many people from diverse backgrounds wanting to get into the tech industry, Wright also paid tribute to her family who says played a key role in her success.

“I grew up in a family where education was non-negotiable. You knew you were going to university, there were no if or buts about it” she recalls.

“But I also came from a family that always spoke about their culture and where they came from. My dad and my mum came from Jamaica. My dad always also spoke about Africa, whether it be South Africa, whether it be the Congo or East Africa. Learning this history, played a key role in my psyche, in terms of knowing who I am, where I come from and having the confidence that I could achieve anything.

Source: The Voice UK 

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