Nationally, October is known as Black History Month – an opportunity to appreciate the past and celebrate the future of the black community within our society. For many years gone by, this month has given people of black heritage the platform to stand up and voice their contributions to society, and educate those who may be unaware of its importance.
In honour of this, we chose to speak to a member of our team – Tracy Mncube – and ask about her experiences within the industry.
What is your role at QA?
I am the Head of Department – Finance, Accounting, Maths and Economics. I also teach on the BSc and MSc Accounting Degrees. I’ve worked here for just over 8 years.
What made you choose this career?
I started out in industry but chose teaching when my family grew because it gave me a better work-life balance. My husband works in finance in the city and sometimes abroad so I needed a job which allowed me to keep to ‘normal hours’.
What is your favourite thing about your role?
I get to see our learners achieve their dreams and then go on to embark on great careers. Knowing I was part of the journey is very fulfilling.
If you weren’t in this career, what would you have liked to become alternatively?
A landscape gardener! I have an eye for design and, coupled with my love for nature and plants, gardening would be the second ideal job after teaching. I tinker around my garden a lot and have been told I have green fingers. I spend some of my free time working in friends’ gardens just to fulfil my gardening desires!
Do you think diversity is important? Why?
Yes, very much so. Diversity brings about a wide range of skills, approaches and experiences, which enrich people as well as an organisation and improves creativity through collaboration. It should also come naturally as a result of equality – if opportunities were equal, industries would be more diverse.
Do you think your heritage has hindered your career in any way? If so, how?
Being black is my racial identity and I embrace it fully. When it comes to my career aspirations, I consider my qualifications and abilities first as opposed to my race. In my career at QAHE, I have always gone for the roles that I would be comfortable and happy doing. When I have applied for a position I have not felt discriminated against. I appreciate that this is not always the case for many other black people so appreciate the position I am in.
In terms of my career right now, I am where I want to be, taking into consideration my other role of and wife and mother.
The Guardian has previously shared an article explaining that “fewer than 1% of UK university professors are black” – what are your feelings towards this?
These statistics speak of a disparity that is common in most industries/sectors. While I am not entirely sure why this is the case, it is encouraging to know that businesses and organisations as a whole are making their policies be more inclusive.
At QAHE, we have a very diverse academic community. How do you think academics could encourage students of a minority background to seek out a career in areas which aren’t as diverse?
I encourage students to follow their hearts and do what they love and not necessarily to even up statistics. As a black woman of African ethnicity, working in academia, I am a good example of what is possible.
Why is Black History Month so important?
It’s a chance to celebrate our journey, contributions and achievements. It’s also important for the young generation to have an awareness of the past in order to understand the present.
What makes you most proud to be black?
The richness and diversity of our culture.
How do you think the recent Black Lives Matter movement has had an impact on the future of black professionals?
The BLM movement has forced the world to stop and take stock. It has shone a light on the injustices of some systems around the world. This will go a long way in paving the way for changes to be effected in organisations to give black professionals an equal footing with their peers.
If you could say one thing to the next generation, what would it be?
Get an education and CHOOSE to be the best version of yourself.