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Black History Month Spotlight: Adane Murray, Digital Planner & BFS Alum

Here at DRT, we’ve decided to dedicate a Spotlight to some movers and shakers in the tech industry throughout Black History Month 2021. In that spirit, we sat down with a friend of DRT, Adane Murray,

Adane is Digital Media Planner with a love of all things tech. An alum of the inaugural Brixton Finishing School cohort, Adane has grown over the past few years into a confident, tech-savvy player in the digital field. We’ve been excited to see his career develop since his days as a CRM intern here at DRT back in 2018. We sat down with Adane recently to ask about his experiences in tech and digital, and advice for young black people trying to get into tech.

What did you want to be when “you grew up”?

“This is a tricky one, because for a long time just I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up –  even up until university – but knew it had to be something I was passionate about. But I think there are a lot of things that didn’t exist when I was a kid. But do you remember The Gadget Show on Channel 5? I was like “they have the best job I’ve ever seen in my life!” They literally travel the world to try out new tech and get to be ahead of everyone else. 

Otis [Dely] was a good role model. Because you’d never seen anyone like that from ends [my community], who was gone on to live their dreams. You’d always seen it on the internet, but having it on TV was a big deal. 

Now we’re seeing a lot of YouTubers doing a lot of the same thing. Like influencers are being paid to try out new tech. That’s one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up but that’s what I now pursue on the side.”

What would you consider to be your biggest lesson learned?

A cliche but to be yourself, it takes a lot of realisations when you try too hard to fit in rather than just being yourself. You stand out a lot more and people appreciate that. You’re the type of person that people will notice when you’re not around because you are yourself and not following everyone’s trends. I’ve been realising that fully just in the past 5-6 years which is made my life so much happier. So I try to tell any young person, especially in a workplace, it’s not worth it trying to “fit in” so be yourself and if that’s not good enough that’s not the place for you.

With relevance to this industry, I think the biggest lesson I learned was in order to be happy, you should focus on standing out rather than trying to fit it. You will be very unhappy otherwise.”

What is your advice to young black people getting into digital?

As a minority, you have to work a bit harder just to be seen as good enough. Because there’s always a lot of misconceptions culturally in those places, so if you have to be able to stand out – but don’t hurt yourself! But you do have to continue to show that you are more than capable. 

In digital, you just have to ignore every stereotype, and if you’re passionate about it, then keep going. In black culture, we celebrate all successes. Within every field, we are able to dominate, and digital should not be an exception. Don’t be discouraged by the lack of diversity within the field – this is the perfect opportunity to showcase our excellence. Never settle and find a place within the industry you enjoy – you will be doing this for a very long time.

Another thing: as soon as you’re uncomfortable, speak up straight away. 

That’s a big issue, and it goes even beyond the industry. I’ve seen and heard horror stories, especially from women and minorities, not being taken seriously enough. So they’ve kept silent which means the problem doesn’t go away, it becomes normal and that cant run at all. A lot more people need to speak out and give people the courage to do the same so that we can be happy and equal in the workplace. It does need to be talked about a lot more”

What three things/experiences/people got you to where you are today?

Firstly, my cousin. They pretty much got me into the industry and shaped who I wanted to be. When I didn’t know what I wanted to do, my current mentor showed me media/advertising, and I didn’t even know this field existed! It is not highlighted or encouraged enough from earlier stages of education, which is a shame because there’s so much cool stuff in media and digital that doesn’t have enough diversity! It’s not exposed enough which is why there aren’t a lot of people that look like me.

In terms of experiences that shaped me, it would be the Black History Month talks that I have been to throughout my career. Seeing that black people do exist in this industry made me feel less alone. And all of the people at the top are the most carefree people ever – they are the definition of “being yourself”. Their personality stands out the most and they haven’t confirmed at all. It shaped me and encouraged me to do the same. So I can encourage young people to do the same so they’re not trapped in the culture or lifestyle of just “getting by”. 

Finally, The Brixton Finishing School was my gateway into the industry and I strongly recommend that young people take this route and jump the queue right into experts within the field. Digital Republic Talent was my first corporate job and gave me an amazing opportunity to witness how to stand out and find a job. The techniques I learned here really boosted my odds into the role I currently stand at today.”

What do you wish you knew at the start of your career that you know now?

I think it might be the industry itself. It’s a bit silly but it’s a lot more interesting than the cliched professions that I was exposed to as a kid. You know, the traditional routes of doctor or lawyer? But I think you need to have fun and enjoy what you do because school and university are different – it’s a short term thing. But your career is the rest of your life! So you have to make sure you’re happy with whatever you do because you’re doing it until you retire. 

I wish I knew more about every industry when I was younger, especially media, so I could do my research and know which area I’d have enjoyed specialising in. Having a clear career path will allow me to achieve progression much faster.”

What piece of tech excites you the most?

What excites me also scares me a little: cookies. Because you can’t think or dream about anything without opening your phone and seeing it right in front of you within 5 minutes. It’s crazy because it’s not listening to you, it’s predicting everything you’ve ever searched, the time you spent searching and much more. That’s why it’s as cool as it is creepy and scary. I guess seeing it from the tech side is really exciting, but from the consumer side, it’s a bit intrusive. I want to see where that technology leads. You could potentially catch criminals or predict health failures with that technology. Also seeing how robots know how to predict things before they happen. So, data and tech, in general, excite me. There are loads but that one sticks out to me.”

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