To mark Black History Month 2022, we’re highlighting the careers and contributions of our colleagues with African or Caribbean heritage. In a series of insightful conversations, we explore their work, learn fascinating family stories, discuss how the world has changed, and hear their hopes for the future.

Today, we meet a member of the programme management team, Ibukun (Ibbs) Olubode. He talks about studying on two different continents, his route into project management, and how employers should embrace under-tapped sources of talent.

Ibukun (Ibbs) Olubode, Implementation Project Manager

What I do at Zellis

I help to deliver our payroll and HR solutions, as well as time and attendance software, to customers.

What do you like best about your job?

I have a passion for project management and people. Working in a company like Zellis has given me the opportunity to work on larger projects with great teams. I enjoy supporting my colleagues to deliver projects successfully within constraints. It’s a very fulfilling exercise when a project I work on goes live.

How did you get into this line of work?

While doing my first degree in Nigeria, where I grew up and studied computer engineering, I did a course on project management which sparked something in me. So, I decided to pursue a career in the field. I came back to the UK, where I was born, to study a master’s degree in Applied Project Management.

After a few years working in diverse project management roles, I discovered I enjoyed working on HCM (human capital management) projects more. Then, I decided to focus my path on HR, payroll, resource management, time and attendance projects.

Black History Month is a chance to celebrate previous generations. What kind of roles have your family members worked in? 

My dad is a retired banker, having worked in the bank for decades. Mum was a pharmacologist before pursuing other interests. My siblings work in IT, media, consultancy and medicine. We all followed our passions. The importance of a good education was really instilled in us. We were always pushed to learn and keep learning.

How do you think the world of work has changed for people with Black heritage? 

Technology today means the world is more exposed to the talent and resources that exist in the Black community. I have friends who are being recruited from Nigeria, Ghana, and other African countries to work on diverse projects. There’s a wealth and depth of talent that is showcased, not only in IT but also in areas like medicine, sports, and entertainment.

What needs to happen to make things better?

I think there is still the pressure on people with Black heritage to work harder and prove ourselves more, particularly for people relocating from abroad. What needs to change is the respect and appreciation of what we bring to the table. Sometimes people aren’t willing to ‘take a chance’ on people of Black origin, for whatever reason. I’m one of the lucky ones, working in a field and role that I enjoy. Everyone should be given a fair chance. That’s what equality and diversity is all about.

Join us again for more Black History Month interviews, and discover our research on diversity, equity, and inclusion here.