Reflecting on Black History Month 2023

28 November 2023

Executive MBA participant and SVP of the WBS Black in Business Club, Cristiana, shares her personal reflections on commemorating Black History Month 2023.

My intention when applying for the WBS Executive MBA was twofold, on one hand, I hoped that the programme would help boost my career prospects, and, on the other hand, I saw the Executive MBA as a platform that would provide me with an opportunity to contribute to social causes that are important to me.

I am driven by a passion to advocate for the career advancement of black professionals, contributing to the creation of unbiased opportunities and empowering professional growth. Soon after starting the Executive MBA I joined the WBS Black in Business (BiB) MBA Club, as SVP. The aim of the Club is “to build an environment and culture for black students to thrive at WBS and in their career”, facilitating networking among black students and alumni, and forging connections with allies.

Raising visibility at WBS London

However, when I joined BiB, I noticed that the Club was mostly centred around the university’s main campus, in Warwick. Recognising the need to engage the London students and alumni, I took on the task of increasing the Club’s visibility at the London campus and cultivating connections among individuals across both locations.

We have since created a London network for the Executive MBA students, which provides us with the opportunity to meet and connect with each other, as well as to share our common experiences. My ambition is to continue growing the network and to organise further opportunities for engagement amongst the members, our allies, and supporters.

Fostering unity among people of diverse backgrounds

I am a strong advocate for connection, and, this year I had the opportunity to participate in the organisation of Warwick Business School’s Black History Month event, a collaboration between the BiB Club and the Warwick Finance Professionals Network.

To me, Black History Month represents not only an occasion to celebrate the achievements of black individuals, and shed light on the challenges we confront, but also a unique opportunity for fostering unity among people of diverse backgrounds. This unity arises from our shared understanding that, even when certain issues do not directly impact us, we possess the capacity to offer support and assistance to those who are less fortunate and in need. Sometimes, it merely involves giving them our attention and demonstrating empathy towards their experience.

My parents left Angola, our native country, in 1982, and I grew up in a small town in Portugal where the career prospects for black women were minimal. Against this backdrop, celebrating Black History Month under the theme of "Saluting Our Sisters," held even further significance for me as a symbol of my own journey, and the achievements of black women in our society.

However, it is also important to recognise that, while there has been some progress in terms of career opportunities and inclusion for black women, we are still far from achieving true equality. Even seemingly small matters, such as our choices related to our hair, continue to be a source of marginalisation and discrimination for black women.

One of my favourite quotes is this quote by Maya Angelou:

 “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

I believe that despite the adversities, it is with this empowering perspective that I continue to look for opportunities to strengthen the visibility of black students at WBS. The power is in our hands and it is through initiatives such as the BiB Club that we actively create opportunities for black students and alumni to not only overcome challenges, but to thrive and flourish in their academic and professional career journeys.

Above all, I feel a sense of responsibility to leverage the opportunities afforded to me by the Executive MBA to positively impact the trajectory of those who will follow in my footsteps.

Connect with the WBS Black in Business Club on LinkedIn to hear more about upcoming events and initiatives, and become a member