October is Black History Month in the U.K. In honour of this important month and as part of FTI Technology’s commitment to promoting diversity, inclusion and belonging, we’re elevating the voices of Black colleagues across the organisation. By engaging in candid conversations about racial bias, social injustice and workplace inequality, our professionals look to collectively contribute to meaningful worldwide change.
This Q&A with Amanda Bailey, a Senior Executive Assistant based in Dubai covers Amanda’s heritage and career path, as well as what Black History Month means to her.
Amanda, firstly, could you share some background about your heritage and upbringing?
Absolutely. My family are originally from Jamaica. In the 1950s, my grandad got a scholarship to come to London and study electronics. He later worked for BT as an engineer. That generation had a really tough time when they were new to London in the 1950s, and my grandparents experienced shocking racial abuse. Still, they were able to create a wonderful home and a family together.
My parents also came to the U.K. from Jamaica, moving over as children. Their generation was known as “barrel children,” a term that was coined to describe children left behind by their parents seeking a better life abroad. Barrels of food and clothes would often be sent back to the Caribbean from the U.K.
They eventually met in London, and the rest is history! My mum worked on the trading floor at Lloyds Bank, and my dad was a builder and carpenter. We lived in South-East London. Throughout my childhood, we returned to Jamaica for family holidays as often as possible, as my parents always considered it home.
So, you were raised in a family of multiple, hard-working generations. How did that translate to your career?
I originally wanted to be a lawyer at school, but I chose to study media instead. This led to many internships for PR firms and fashion labels. I later accepted a job as a receptionist at Office, a shoe retailer, and progressed through different sectors from there. Since those early days, I’ve been fortunate to work at global organisations, including PwC, Goldman Sachs and Lendlease.
In early 2020, I was in Jamaica when COVID-19 took hold everywhere, and I couldn’t return to the U.K. for quite some time. When I returned, I felt it was time for a change, so I decided to seek new challenges in Dubai. I met with the team at FTI Consulting once I was settled and haven’t looked back since.
Is there anything you’d like to share about your experience as a Black woman working in the Middle East?
Having been raised in the U.K., where there is a large and supportive Black and Caribbean community in London and the country more broadly, I wasn’t sure what to expect in Dubai. Despite the strength of the community in the U.K., it’s still easy for people to believe in the stereotypes society makes of Black people, so I suffered from imposter syndrome frequently.
My experiences in Dubai have been really positive. Although life is definitely different, I’m part of a multicultural team in a hugely supportive environment. I feel that I can walk tall as myself, and that my voice is heard. The hardest thing is finding Caribbean food!
Why is Black History Month important — to you personally and collectively for society?
Growing up, we knew that October was an important month. That would be apparent in the range of activities at school, in dance or drama lessons and in the shows that appeared on stage, TV and radio.
For people who aren’t part of the Black community, I’d say that October is a great month to ask questions and find out about Black culture and history that they might not otherwise know. I enjoy spreading knowledge and understanding as widely as possible.
How could the business world improve further in the years ahead regarding diversity, inclusion and belonging?
I want to see more Black senior leaders — especially Black women — in influential positions, including at FTI Consulting. Everyone needs role models to look up to, and increasing the presence of Black people in positions of power is inspiring.
The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals.