Listed as one of the UK’s Top Most Influential Women in Tech & an international multi-award winner for her services to the Diversity & Inclusion industry, Sheree (@nirushika) is the Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Monzo; Board-Appointed Global Ambassador, Women Who Code; Contributor, Forbes. The aim of her career is ensuring people are aware of the fantastic opportunities the tech industry has to offer and to make certain that each person is able to benefit from these and reach their full career potential.
My first job was…working on the counter at a local pharmacy when I was 14/15!
My proudest accomplishment so far is… having been able to make a sizeable impact on the industry with how we approach inclusion and change our ways of thinking. Being able to truly influence change has been super rewarding.
A defining moment in my life was… for work – becoming a Forbes contributor. I am very proud to be able to share my thoughts on that platform and it gave me the confidence and validation that what I was and am doing is important to more than just me. In my personal life – meeting my partner and forming a life together with our pooch, Alfie. We’ve been together for almost ten years and married for over three. Without his support, I’d have struggled a lot more on my journey.
Being a Global Ambassador for Women Who Code is important to me because… changing the face of tech is important. We must organically provide the tech and human skills that people need to progress. WWCode provides free monthly meetups to our 180,000 member base (and growing) on just that – helping to level the playing field and empower women globally. It’s also important to me as someone who began their career as a software engineer. Leading the UK expansion was instrumental to my career path and I will always be proud of that.
The most fulfilling thing about the work I do is… helping organizations do more and do it better. Being able to see people come to life and fully thrive because of the work I do is such a warm and humbling feeling. It’s a privilege to be able to do it and be able to create environments at the scale that work everyone, not just those leaders may directly identify with (or not).
The most challenging about my work is… mindset change. Inclusion strategies are organizational transformation and that takes time. We must spend the time engaging those who get why we’re doing it but also those who don’t. They will likely make up a large part of the organization and it can be challenging. It’s important to understand that perspective to help engage those people in a way that brings them along the journey – even if it is a slower journey than we’d like.
I would tell my 18-year-old self… that I will accomplish really amazing things. And to not focus too much on putting myself into a box because it will limit you in the long run.
I am an advocate for diversity and inclusion because… I don’t want to live or work in a society that isn’t fair. And currently, I do.
“Seek forgiveness rather than permission.”
A world where we have achieved diversity and inclusion looks like this… everyone has the opportunity to flourish and become leaders, regardless of gender, ethnicity, race, disabilities, sexuality, economic background, etc. Everyone has the opportunity to fairly compete for the roles and jobs they want.
The one piece of advice that I always give, but find difficult to follow is… take time for yourself. Remember to prioritize your own rest and “time off”. It’s one of my growth areas in taking time for myself and my partner. Turning off isn’t easy but very required.
My greatest advice from a mentor was… seek forgiveness rather than permission.
My biggest setback was… how people view me. Leaders don’t typically look or sound like me. And that has been a consistent setback as I have pushed through and become a senior leader in my industry. It is obviously something I can’t and won’t change but the reaction many leaders have to me is regularly a setback. I then have to quantify myself and my accomplishments to them.
I overcame it by… realizing that it isn’t my problem if my presence makes people uncomfortable. Most of the time I am the only, whether it’s the only woman of colour, woman or person of colour. Having the mindset change of understanding that I very much deserve and have earned my spot in those rooms has helped me discount the sometimes shock or setbacks I get from people being shocked I exist in the way I do,
I surprise people when I tell them… I am 28 and from Ireland. Most people don’t expect me to be from where I’m from but fun fact: I was adopted at 3 weeks old from Sri Lanka and raised in Ireland. I have got a relatively thick Irish accent and that usually throws people when they first see me. Most people are also surprised that I am 28 and have done what I’ve done. However, that probably lends itself to me not knowing how to fully turn off!
The future excites me because… itis getting better and I’m excited to see how it continues to evolve. How technology is changing the world can be super positive and impactful and if we start and continue to incorporate inclusion into the processes and conversations now, we can expect even better outputs.