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Learning to Big Up Yourself with Tricia McCool: Key Takeaways from BFUTR Summit 2021

Recently, the Rogers team participated in the Black Professionals in Tech Network’s (BPTN) annual BFUTR (/Be Future/) Global Tech Summit 2021. As the largest virtual gathering of Black tech professionals globally, the summit invited Black professionals and allies alike to come together to celebrate #BlackExcellence and build the future of tech. The two-day summit featured exhibits from partners, networking opportunities, and a series of panel discussions about the biggest trends in tech. One of these panels, called “Big Up Yourself: Self-Promotion and Self-Championing in the Workplace” was moderated by our very own Tricia McCool, Director, Digital Change Management and Co-Chair, Black Leadership Council.   

We caught up with Tricia to discuss her takeaways from BFUTR Summit 2021 and her “a-ha” moments from the panel she moderated.

You moderated a panel about self-promotion and self-championing in the workplace. We know that this doesn’t come naturally to everyone. What would you say to people who feel this way, and what does self-promotion look like to you?

“Big up yourself” (love this term we used at the BFUTR summit)! Self-promotion is so critical to our career and aspirations. Self promotion is about giving yourself credit, spotlighting your accomplishments, hyping your own work, but requires a strategic approach. It takes work and intentional actions as there’s a fine line between self-promotion and what could come across as boasting. You need to strike the right balance between being yourself and showcasing your hard work to champion you. One of my favorite affirmations is – “You must champion You, if you can’t champion your own work, neither can anyone else.”  Self-promotion is a superpower when done right, but it’s one you must keep working on.

In the discussion around whether rejection is one of the reasons people are afraid to seIf-promote, I loved when James Burnette, Sr. Director of Sales, LinkedIn, said “if you’re not failing now and then, you’re probably not swinging big enough!” What were some key learnings you took away from the panel?

It was definitely another mic drop moment in the panel discussion. So many key learnings including tips and insights on how to work around rejection, and it is simply staying focused and pushing forward. Despite the challenges that we from the Black community face in the workplace, we’ve got to keep showing up, aim even higher, be proud of our wins and share it with others. The option we have is to be comfortable with being uncomfortable to reach new heights. Find what makes you unique that overlaps your skills, interests, and opportunities and keep going. Understanding there are only wins and lessons in the process.

As a Black woman in tech, what is one piece of advice you wish you knew when you were entering the workforce?

Self-promotion is critical to my success in corporate, especially tech. As a Black woman this doesn’t come easy due to many invisible barriers including lack of representation, often being the “only”, and the myth of meritocracy. It’s important to be strategic to work around these barriers, by building a network of other Black women in tech who will understand and help you navigate when the challenges are extremely overwhelming at times. Double down on mentorship with Black tech professionals and allies for tips on how to self-promote and champion your accomplishments.

What are some of your other key learnings from BFUTR that you will take with you in your career?

It was such an amazing experience, Black professionals together celebrating #BlackExcellence, learning from top tech leaders and sharing the Black experience to educate allies. We had members of our tech SLT signing up to support and attend the conference.

There was so much to take away from BFUTR – a few things on my list as a Black leader were, the power of mentorship, which is an invaluable key to success in my career goals, and how critical it is for me to pay-it-forward by mentoring members from the Black community. Networking and staying connected is crucial for my career advancement and to build up social capital. To keep showing up, “Big up myself”, self-promote, and champion my accomplishments. Continue sharing my experience as a Black woman to enable our Rogers I&D plan and be part of driving much needed change in our workplace.