Rashada Harry is the Founder of Your Future Your Ambition, a social enterprise she created in 2012, which aims to encourage people from Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority backgrounds into Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) related careers. Since its launch 6 years ago over 4500 students have attended the YFYA annual event. The social enterprise has been recognized for its excellence and the directors as leaders and role models in STEM. Rashada was motivated to help start YFYA after seeing the lack of ethnic minority women in the technology industry when she joined the industry as a graduate trainee.
“I was the only black female in Europe within my graduate course,” she said. “Women from ethnic minorities are still very much under-represented in technology and we want to change that. The purpose of Your Future, Your Ambition is to make people aware of what’s out there.”
Born in the UK, Rashada’s father hails from New Amsterdam, Berbice and mother is from Georgetown, Guyana. Through YFYA, Rashada helps to bring together big corporations and provides them with a platform to educate, inform, inspire, encourage and motivate young people from the age of seven to 23 years into an array of career options in STEM. Since its launch 5 years ago, over 3000 students have attended the YFYA annual event, and 620 students have also participated in the YFYA mentorship programme. YFYA has invested significant finance into community programs which included charities such as 100 Black Men of London, AbleChildAfrica and Street Child Africa.
By day Rashada is a National Account Manager responsible for enterprise sales at Vodafone Global Enterprise. She possesses a strong track record of new business development, account management, and consultative selling into Enterprise client organizations offset against aggressive sales targets (in excess of €50m). Prior to joining Vodafone she spent nearly 10 years with Cisco where she worked as a global business development manager for EMEAR (Europe Middle East Africa & Russia). She was the only black female on the highly competitive Sales academy program which was spanned across Europe. She was selected as one of the top 10 graduates in the UK from over 8,000 applicants. It was during this program that she believed more needed to be done to bring more diverse talent into the organisation. With this in mind and in her spare time she then helped to form and co-lead the Cisco Black Professional Employee Network EMEAR- (CBP) which focussed on promoting inclusive leadership, inspiring and empowering its members to achieve their potential.
Through this work Rashada was asked to sit on the board of the global CBP employee group where she led the community pillar advising on different ways to engage the local communities in technology activities. Rashada was twice promoted during her 9 years at Cisco and worked as Global Business Development Manager covering the EMEAR (Europe Middle East Africa & Russia) region before leaving Cisco in late 2013.
In 2014 Rashada was a STEM leader finalist in the British Black Business Awards as an inspiration model for the next generation of business leaders for her work with Your Future Your Ambition in STEM.” She was also a nominee for the 2015 National Diversity Awards.
In 2015 Rashada was awarded a top tech rising star award by WeAreTheCity, but she had an amazing year in 2017. She won the 2017 Women in Technology from Women For Africa Awards, when she represented Guyana. She was also listed as a top 30 future leader by EMpower and the Financial Times in the UK, named one of the 2017 Top 30 Ethnic Minority Future Leaders, and appointed to the board of the UKs first black theatre company TALAWA.
Rashada is very passionate about diversity in STEM and will continue to drive and lead the wider annual YFYA initiative in 2018. In addition YFYA Meets a new arm of Your Future Your Ambition which seeks to give students work experience in STEM fields will also be piloted in 2018.
2018 is set to be an exciting year for YFYA when Rashada alongside the team and Stakeholders return to the Emirates stadium in October to continuing the success of the 2017 annual event in inspiring young people to realise their potential and meet the role models and mentors who want to support them on their STEM journey.