‘She did it, I can too’: Four women in finance and tech on those who inspire them

From family members to business trailblazers, we find out about the heroes who four women bossing it in two of the most competitive industries look up to

WOMEN WHO INSPIRE: Left to right, JP Morgan's Tia Counts and Sophia G Stock, Shoobs founder Louise Broni-Mensah and Black Women Talk Tech co-founder Lauren Washington (Photo: Precious Mayowa Agbabiaka)

WE’RE ALL aware of the difference representation can make. Seeing people that look like us succeeding – especially against the odds – can have a powerful impact on our aspirations, regardless of whether their achievements are in the field that we want to pursue or an entirely separate one. 

We asked four women working in finance and tech about the black woman who have inspired them. Read on to find out what they had to say…

Tia Counts, global corporate and investment bank and EMEA head of advancing black leaders at JP Morgan

“So, I’m from California and I grew up completely enamoured of Angela Davis; Kim Crenshaw, who coined the term “intersectionality” when she was looking at what was missing from the feminist movement, when we weren’t really dealing with what it meant to be black and a woman. Probably the often-cited women as well, like Maya Angelou.

“I mean, I’ve had people that have mentored me without knowing they’ve mentored me just because I find inspiration in the works that they leave around for all of us who take the time to pick them up and read them.”

Lauren Washington, co-founder of Fundr and Black Women Talk Tech

One of our main speakers at our last conference was Julia Collins and she created the company Zume Pizza which went on to be a billion dollar business, so she’s literally the first black woman to create a billion dollar business in tech. So seeing that someone has reached that pinnacle and has been able to do that is so inspiring and so exciting.

“I mean, I think there really hasn’t been a black woman who’s raised over up to $100 million until her, most of it’s been in the 10s of millions and so to get someone who’s raised over $200 million, get this huge billion dollar valuation, has changed the game for all of us. I point to her every time I need to have a role model or someone who looks like me in leadership position and she’s the one who I can say she did it, I can too.”

Louise Broni-Mensah, founder Shoobs.com

“There’s multiple but I guess I would actually talk about someone quite recent who I don’t think a lot of people know about and that’s a woman called Julia Collins and she’s a founder from America who, to my knowledge, is one of the first black women to raise money from SoftBank and her business was valued at over a billion dollars. It’s a business that focuses on robotics for pizza delivery and she was the CEO of [the] company.

“To get to a billion dollar valuation as a black woman is absolutely phenomenal and for that to be happening now, in this time, she’s definitely a role model for me. And I’m thankful that I’ve actually met her as well. She’s been so helpful. She’s introduced me to a whole bunch of people as well. I love that she’s accessible, that she’s a sister supporting other sisters.”

Sophia G Stock, ED technology risk at JP Morgan

“I come from quite a matriarchal family and my mum she had two jobs – one was in the city and I always thought, ‘I want to work in the city’ and she wore nice suits and she looked really great going into the office, but then carrying the shopping bags in her heels up the road was also amazing.

“My grandma was also really inspiring, from Jamaica but ended up working for John Galliano, in the fashion industry in London and the US. And also my auntie, who ended up marrying her husband in Germany, [where at the time it wasn’t] very welcoming, she’s become very prominent in her community. And so I come from women who are very strong and determined, maybe not deliberately strong, but they are determined to do the best and get to the best.”

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