Our Graduate Shore caught up with Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer Mike Sherman, to ask some interesting questions about his career and heritage

Last year you gave a speech at the Black Young Professional Leadership Conference in London. Why is it important for you to support events and networks like this?

Historic imbalances and discriminatory practices limit both social and professional mobility of underrepresented minorities around the world. To help achieve parity it's essential that we ensure these networks are now more easily accessible to minorities and that leaders invest time to ensure 'secrets' of progression, development and leadership are understood and revealed to people of all backgrounds in order to help them fulfil their potential and grow. 

What made you make the move from Boston Consulting Group to BT, and indeed from Dallas to London?

I had the desire to be involved in both telecoms infrastructure and a company that had a big impact on the lives of people in society. Telco is one of the normalising factors, helping to uplift and include communities that have been less able to participate fully in society. We have now started to democratise Health Care, Education and other key sectors and the role that BT plays for the UK is quite significant in supporting in this space and so this was an opportunity that couldn’t be passed up.

Is there a specific Black figure that has impacted your life and career?

Nat Turner; he isn't often spoken of but was a grass roots leader during time of slavery in the US. He was born, lived and died as a slave but realised and spoke out against the atrocities that were happening and led one of the first slave rebellions, fighting to free slaves and end slavery before he was killed. He is a true leader; in the face of fear and adversity he stood up, did what was right and gave his life for his cause which is akin to what leaders should do in a professional environment. Bravery is key and you have to step up and stand up for your team and what is right, even if it might not be the best thing for your career. 

How do you plan to celebrate Black History Month, and what does it mean to you?

It’s a time for reflection and learning. For me this month it will be most important to spend time reading, learning and understanding more about facts and histories in our community. Most interesting for me at present is the subject of African Dynasties; there are large governments and systems that were in place that but have been passed over by history in place of more typically known Dynasties such as The Romans. The African Dynasties were often much bigger in size and impact and so I feel it's important to understand them and learn both from and about them. Additionally, this month is even more important as we have huge change happening in the US and we need to encourage those that can vote to do so in order to, movements such as Black Lives Matter get the traction and support that they need. 

BT have recently launched the Ethnic Minority Reverse Mentoring Programme, and the Ethnicity Rapid Action Plan. What change do you hope this will bring about for Black employees at BT?

With continued attention at the Executive, Board and Senior Management level I hope that the increased awareness of discrimination, prejudice and anti-inclusion practices will now be a focus of all BT employees. My hope is that this means the historical friction that has limited upward mobility will be reduced and someday eliminated so that we see more Black senior leaders and Executive members in the future. 

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