To mark Black History Month, 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 at Zellis, learn fascinating family stories, discuss how the world has changed, and hear their hopes for the future.
Today, we talk to two members of the Zellis product team…
Ruth Dooley, Product Manager
Joshua Dias, Customer Experience Analyst
Tell us about your role at Zellis
My role as a customer experience analyst is to help the other product managers create a better product. I use product management tools to gather and process user data, understand user behaviour, and link that to the customer experience.
I help to identify issues and feed that information back into the product road map, talking to developers and engineers to implement improvements and track the difference they make.
I’ll also be looking at getting customer feedback through one-on-one interviews, focus groups, prototype testing and rollout of new features.
What do you like best about your job?
Definitely the human element. I’ve always loved data, and I have a technical background, but the most interesting kind of data is attached to people. It can be really fascinating.
For example, I used to work at Cadbury’s, and we found that people’s tastes in chocolate are very localised to their environment and upbringing. What one group of people finds disgusting might have positive associations for someone else.
Black History Month is a chance to celebrate previous generations. What kind of roles have your family members worked in?
My dad’s family is from Jamaica. We grew up in Moss Side, Manchester. I’m the first person in my family to go to university. In the family, we’ve had people who worked as receptionists and care home workers.
Dad (Nigel Dias, pictured) worked in security and car repairs, and now runs his own business. But his claim to fame is that he was a professional American football player back in his twenties!
He played for a team called Manchester Spartans, which is now Manchester Titans. He won two British Championships with them, then became the head coach. Also, he played for the GB team when they won the European Championship twice, in 1989 and 1991.
How do you think the world of work has changed for people with Black heritage?
I think as we’ve advanced as a nation, the discrimination has changed to be more towards class and locations, with underfunding for those areas that also happen to be largely filled with ethnic minorities.
At university, I noticed that the focus was on fulfilling quotas for getting ethnic minority students in, but not enough support was provided after that. It was assumed that it was a level playing field. A lot of Black students feel isolated. They aren’t getting the same kind of help and opportunities that everybody else is. That can lead to poorer grades and poorer job opportunities.
What needs to happen to make things better?
Societies and networks are really important. I helped to found one at university and went back to give a talk recently. They bring graduates back to inspire the students, act as role models, and signpost career opportunities through job fairs. Professional groups and events like Black in Data and Black Tech Fest are also a great source of community and mentorship.
Join us again for more Black History Month interviews, and discover our recent research on diversity, equity, and inclusion here.