Black Heritage (or History) Month is an annual celebration held in February in the US to recognize the achievements of the Black community; to reflect on the history, resilience, and their far-reaching influence on the world. This month we are featuring interviews with some of our Black@VMware POD (Power of Difference) members. Today, we invite you to get to know Staff Consultant and Co-Lead of VMware UK’s Black@VMware POD – Michaela McCollin.
VMware Careers: Michaela, tell us how long you’ve been at VMware and your journey to joining the company?
Michaela McCollin: I have been with VMware for just over a year. I joined after a successful international thirteen-year career in the IT Consulting industry. I have held a variety of positions including Consultant, Project Manager, Business Analyst, and Communication Director.
VMware Careers: Please share more about your role at VMware, your team, and the impact you make?
Michaela McCollin: I am a Professional Services Staff Consultant supporting Northern EMEA. My role is customer facing and my focus is on strategic programs delivering transformation. Professional Services is a key part of VMware’s Customer Success Organization, delivering programs to all industries that support people, process, technology, and strategic digital transformation. I support both internal pre-sales resources and the delivery of complex engagements to ensure that VMware customers are able to deliver services and products innovatively and without disruption. Apart from my “day job”, I am the co-lead of the first international chapter of the Black@VMware POD (Power of Difference) community, here in the UK. Its launch is one of the proudest moments of my career. As a chapter, we are developing a community that supports the growth and development of VMware employees. Our goal is to increase retention, lead outreach initiatives with the long-term objective to develop a school-to-employment pipeline for BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) resources, and collaborate with non-profit organizations ensuring that minority communities are not left behind in this digital transformation revolution.
VMware Careers: What is a typical day like for you?
Michaela McCollin: 75% of my day is dedicated to customer delivery. In this pandemic work from home era, that means that a minimum of five hours a day is spent on conference calls. The remainder of my day is dedicated to the development of Black@VMware UK, the support of my mentees, and the creation of enablement materials for Professional Services. I can honestly say that I have not felt this satisfied during the tenure of my career than I am now.
VMware Careers: How do you feel supported as a Black employee at VMware?
A turning point for me as a Black employee was after the murder of George Floyd. In addition to a company-wide email and town hall addressing the injustice and impact of systemic racism globally, my manager, Mark Schraider contacted me personally to ask about my personal and emotional wellbeing and offered support. VMware is not perfect but it does treat its Black employees with care, in comparison to my previous employers. I feel heard.
VMware Careers: What advice would you share for young black people who are considering a role in tech?
Michaela McCollin: Technology is ubiquitous. It is ingrained in everything we do – the attendance of church, our banking services, transportation, communication, entertainment, etc. In today’s world, a job in technology is a transferable set of skills that transcends industries. A career in tech is an investment in yourself and I would advise younger Black people to consider this investment. Technology needs and thrives on innovation. That innovation can only be gained from diversity in the workplace. Diverse teams see a 60% increase in decision-making and an 83% increase in innovation when the workforce feels included. The choice is obvious, bring your unique point of view to this industry – we need it.
VMware Careers: Finally, February is Black History Month, share with us what this means to you personally?
Michaela McCollin: I am a UK citizen born to Caribbean and Nigerian parents. When I lived in the US, Black History Month was part of the fabric and something I took for granted. The knowledge I gained about Shirley Chisholm, Charles Drew, and other key historical Black American figures is something that my peers don’t necessarily benefit from in Europe (Black History Month is observed in October here in the UK). The month for me is a reminder of all of the innovation and progress that all minorities contributed to and drove but didn’t necessarily receive credit for (especially whilst alive). It is a reminder that I should be grateful to occupy this time and space and the privileges it affords me.
Learn more about VMware’s Power of Difference groups here.
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