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Kay Kukoyi CSM FITOL: from Combined Sciences to CEO & Founder

Social media handle(s): LinkedIn

A few words about me:

I'm a multi-award-winning entrepreneur and the CEO and Founder of Purposeful Group, a company focused on entrepreneurship, technology, and digital skills training. We offer a range of books, mentoring, workshops and programmes for learners.

I've written 5 books available via iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and have been recognised by the Financial Times as one of the 100 most influential BAME leaders in the UK tech sector.

Are there any professional experiences you've had that are quite unexpected compared to what you do nowadays?

I've had several quite different careers - in sales and IT recruitment, in market research, in tech, as well as being an entrepreneur and author.

I also had two side-hustles whilst I was working full-time as an IT consultant, which was intense!

Before starting my tech career, I worked as a social market researcher which took me everywhere from interviewing MPs at the Houses of Parliament, to running focus groups with different communities and groups around the UK. One of my most memorable experiences was going into a prison to speak to groups of inmates.

Having specialist skills increases your value, and having a range of transferable skills increases your flexibility and expands the range of options available to you. Both can help you to survive in the employment market.

Is your background more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) or non-STEM related?

Probably a mix. I studied Combined Sciences with a focus on anatomy, physiology and pharmacology at uni and then worked in the tech industry in a non-technical job to start with, so it's hard to say for certain!

Where did your professional journey start?

In my first job I worked as an IT Recruiter placing Developers, Business Analysts and Project Managers into IT teams in London and the Home Counties.

How did you get into tech and what motivated you?

It was serendipity more than anything. A company I used to work for was looking for people with business / domain knowledge and provided on the job "tech" training. I bit their hand off! A friend I'm eternally grateful to tipped me off that they were looking for people.

Have you experienced any 'career in tech' challenges / stereotypes?

I did have a bit of a tricky scenario when I discovered a male colleague was being paid more than me early on in my tech career.

I arranged a meeting with my manager and planned out exactly what I wanted to say, including handling possible objections, (something I learned to do from my background in sales). I rehearsed before we met too. Things had been going well, but I believe in risk management - you should always plan for worst case scenarios! A pay rise was agreed at the meeting and was actioned in my salary the next month.

I came across this resource from Women on Boards UK on LinkedIn a few months back. It has some good tips about how to negotiate a pay rise!

"...we do need to continue to encourage people from all backgrounds and groups to join the tech community."

What has been your biggest 'wow!' moment related to working in tech so far?

The wow for me is how much I enjoy working within the tech sector. I feel I've found my place. There's always so much to learn, it never gets stale or boring.

Since I started combining tech and entrepreneurship this has been the icing on the cake.

What do you like / not like about working in tech?

I like the constant and fast pace of change and new development.

There's nothing I dislike, but we do need to continue to encourage people from all backgrounds and groups to join the tech community.

"...I've found my place. There's always so much to learn, it never gets stale or boring."

What's been your favourite / most memorable / funniest 'career in tech' moment so far?

My favourite moments in tech are when plans start to come together to bring a concept to life, and when a product starts to take shape and becomes a real entity that people can use and benefit from.

And to wrap up, is there any advice you'd like to give to others interested in a career in tech?

Yes, I’ve interviewed candidates and also been privy to discussions about why people did or did not get the jobs they interviewed for, so I’d like to share some interview tips!

Make sure you understand the theory behind why things are best done in a particular way(s) in your chosen field of tech. In the tech world interviewers are interested in more than just your projects and your ability to build, or create things on a practical level. You're likely to have multiple conversations which will assess your knowledge and experience, critical thinking and your problem solving skills too, which are fundamental to being a successful tech professional.

Don't get intimidated, but do study and read up!

You can also build your skills using free or low-cost courses.

To gain an accurate idea of how much you know and where you need to improve, test yourself using LinkedIn Skills Assessments. They’re free and available on a range of topics from your LinkedIn profile.

If you don’t score highly, there’s no harm done. LinkedIn won’t make your scores public without your permission, but if you do well, you can choose to make your results visible.


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