Technology Strategist & Technical Relationship Manager at Goldman Sachs
Uzo is a technology strategist and technical relationship manager at Goldman Sachs, an aspiring visionary, and a lover of fried plantain. He is a first-generation Nigerian American, born and raised in New Jersey. He previously served on the Board of Directors for the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). He is also an A* member of /dev/color and a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He earned a BS in Computer Science from Columbia University. Connect with Uzo on Instagram.
What’s a challenge you’ve faced, and how did you get through it?
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced generally is dealing with imposter syndrome as a minority in STEM. I’ve consistently been one of the only Black people in the spaces I occupy, whether it was at my competitive STEM high school (where I actually was the only black student out ~300 total), in my engineering classes in college, and now in the workplace. Having support systems like NSBE and now /dev/color have been crucial in my development. By surrounding myself with peers, mentors and sponsors who look like me, I became able to visualize my own growth. Black success started to seem normal and attainable, not an anomaly. I’ve also discovered part of my purpose through the struggle, which is to connect people and to put others in positions to succeed.
“Black success started to seem normal and attainable, not an anomaly.”
What’s something you’ve done that you’re really proud of?
Something that I’m proud of is reconnecting with my creative side with spoken word poetry. I started writing almost two years ago after graduating from college, during a summer where the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile dominated headlines and fueled nationwide protests. It sparked me to reconcile my identity and my place in a world that sometimes seems to cast my voice and experiences to the side. I am a product of the victories of my ancestors, and I will continue to work towards extending that legacy into posterity for as long as I live.
What’s been on your mind in Black History Month?
I think about the major contributions that peoples of African descent have made to society at large that are often taken for granted. I think about how Hip Hop has become the centerpiece of popular culture and is a force majeure in expediting globalization, second only to the Internet. I think about jazz and disco and Rock n Roll as earlier iterations of this cultural revolution in generations past. I think about how centuries of free labor is largely responsible for much of the infrastructure and economies of the western world — and the myriad nameless and faceless that will never be individually recognized for that. I think about how the trillion dollar global sports market is set up to profit from the performance of the black body as a commodity.
“I think about how centuries of free labor is largely responsible for much of the infrastructure and economies of the western world — and the myriad nameless and faceless that will never be individually recognized for that. I think about how the trillion dollar global sports market is set up to profit from the performance of the black body as a commodity.”
There are lots of things I could add here, but the point remains that there are hidden truths (hidden figures if you will) behind much of what we love and enjoy today. BHM is a time to reacquaint ourselves with and reflect on history, for you must understand where you’ve been to know where you’re going next.