“I can be and do anything”

This October our theme for marking Black History Month is 'Hidden Figures' - as we educate ourselves on forgotten or overlooked black figures from our history - or in the case of this piece, our present!

Marking the second in our ‘Hidden Figures’ series is a look at the woman who has just topped the 2022 Powerlist – Microsoft CDO Jacky Wright

First published in 2007, The Powerlist is a list of the top 100 most influential people of African or African Caribbean heritage working in the UK. Famous recent winners have included the author Malorie Blackman, Brexit activist Gina Miller, and last year’s winner, Formula 1 driver Sir Lewis Hamilton.

2022’s winner is admittedly less of a household name – Microsoft Chief Digital Officer Jacky Wright.

We did a little research to find out more about Jacky and her background – and how she explains her business philosophy in her own words.

Jacky was born in Jamaica, her parents part of the Windrush generation that came to the UK in search of a better quality of life for their families. Her father served in the Royal Air Force and distilled in Jacky the belief that, through striving and hard work, she could truly be and do anything she wished.

Hear Jacky in her own words in this BBC interview:

Jacky has spent much of her working life in the US, with senior positions at major multinationals such as BP, General Electric and Anderson Consulting. But she returned to the UK in 2017 for a two-year stint overseeing the transformation of HMRC to a truly modern, digital organisation.

Clearly, Jacky does not shy away from a challenge. The ongoing transformation of the UK’s tax body is fundamental shift – involving the relocation of 65,000+ employees into 13 regional UK hubs by 2025.

At the same time, the government had set itself the challenge of becoming the UK’s most diverse employer by 2020. For Jacky, these two challenges, at first seemingly separate, are at the heart one and the same.

“Becoming a more diverse environment is not just about making government a better workplace. It is also about enabling government to work better: you can more effectively serve the breadth of the citizenry if your workforce is composed of a similarly broad cross-section”

For Jacky, if organisations such as HMRC are to truly modernise, decentralise and better reflect contemporary working practices, it is vital that the people making the decisions best represent UK society as a whole.

“I want my team to be an inclusive team from all walks of life, because then we can best address problems. Diversity informs me like it should inform anything that anyone does…We’ve got to understand the citizens, because we have to make sure they are able to interact with us – no matter who they are, what walks of life they are from, or whether they have disabilities. And, in order to do that, I’ve got to think broadly.”

We think we can learn a lot from Jacky’s ethos, in how we continue to build modern, forward-thinking and inclusive organisations.

Congratulations to Jacky on topping the Powerlist – we don’t think we’ve heard the last of her!

Sources for this blog;