Nakita Austin, Customer Success Director
What are you doing and how did you get into your current career?
I’m working on the Growth Team as a Customer Success Director for Peg, a company that has built a suite of software for marketers to search, message, and collaborate with social influencers. It’s something that I love, and it took a bit of serendipity. Networking with friends (and friends of friends) and being honest with myself about what I needed from my next role was the key.
After a grueling interview process, I landed what I would say is a dream job, and I get to work alongside some very awesome people. We’re a small startup, so I get to wear many hats. To make a long story short, part of my job is going out into the market to make sure that brands and agencies know how to use our platform. I also partner with creators, MCN’s, talent reps and managers to get them the deals they’re looking for. I sit between both of these cool worlds to make sure they connect and make awesome influencer campaigns!
What keeps you in tech?
Technology is ever evolving and will always provide me with a platform to create change in the world. Why wouldn’t I want to constantly surround myself with people and products that will enhance our lives and the future? Whether I help the business world or focus on teaching English to kids in Haiti, I can probably argue that technology can help anything I wish to do. Additionally, there are so many different avenues to go down in tech so no matter what your skill set is when you want to jump into this world, there is something for you to do.
Why tech and social influencers?
In regards to my current role, you may be thinking, “okay well you guys just do influencer campaigns, so you just do more advertising.” I’ll share a funny story about how I ran into the first “influencer” that I was a fan of. Several years ago, I was walking through London, and I saw this woman who had inspired me to dye my hair. I honestly had the screen shot of her blonde hair photo on my phone to show her.
While it might be a minute change in someone else’s life, I’d never done anything to my hair before, so it was crazy for me. When I ran into this influencer who inspired me, I flipped out like she was Beyonce (she wasn’t). I rambled on to tell her that she was amazing and that she didn’t know me but she helped me do something I had thought about for a long time. Inspiration is important here. I love the creativity in the advertising world, however, I know that human interaction and trust are things that move us in immeasurable ways. Insert social influencers promoting all their differences and showcasing that to the world, and we have magic. We’re moved by other people, and I want to support an industry where more content creators can inspire others.
What was an obstacle you faced and how did you overcome that obstacle?
When I first started out in the workforce, I didn’t stand up for myself or others when people in a room were making prejudice or bias remarks. I once overheard colleagues saying that they would never go to Harlem. I melted in my seat…I lived in Harlem, and I didn’t have the voice to speak up about my neighbourhood. I was embarrassed by myself and obviously for myself at that moment. From an early age, I was happy about showcasing my heritage; I’m proudly Haitian and Filipino and the daughter of hardworking immigrants which is amazing and a big part of who I am today. Sometimes though, I found myself in social circles wanting to hide certain bits about me in fear that others might judge me. (Harlem is not only dope, but it’s also costly now, so I just laugh about that.)
Moving to London and being around even more cultures, races, and religions from all over the world had an enormous impact on me overcoming this fear of speaking up. Being away from my environment meant that as an outsider, where you come from makes you even more unique and impressive, so perspective is everything. As a POCIT, sometimes it’s difficult to be “the only one” in a room of colleagues or peers already so you don’t want to back yourself further into a corner. It’s now even more important for me to let people know that my competencies at work have nothing to do with where I come from, what level of education I have, or where I lay my head at night. It took some time, but I just let go of the fears.
What was your perception of the tech industry before entering it, what is your perception now?
Silly old me I thought that because I didn’t study tech or computer science in college or high school that I couldn’t be part of the revolution some day. I genuinely thought it was only the coders that would be able to make the most money and the biggest change in the tech world and I was wrong. I now love the fact that current role has helped me carve out a position where I get to take part in understanding what’s going on with the tech team and then figure out how to translate it to the world or vice versa. I never thought I’d want to learn how to code either and now I want to start.
What are three tips you can give to high school/college students who want to enter tech?
1. Do your research and learn about all the different avenues you can go down in the tech industry. That means going down research rabbit holes and look up companies you know and learning about those you don’t. Hop on LinkedIn and check out the different people and the different jobs they hold. You may one day make up your title, so the possibilities then become endless when you do your research and when you connect with people. If you don’t know where to start, talk to your advisors or counselors about joining a tech program.
2. If you want to enter tech and you have passions for other subject matters at the same time, it’s possible to learn about all the things your heart desires; you’ll just have to put in that much more work. The good thing is that all this work only makes you more knowledgeable and a stronger candidate for roles in the future. I studied Marketing and English, and I still found myself in tech which was unexpected, but awesome.
3. Don’t let rejection stop you from your dreams. Anything is possible and if you don’t believe me, come to talk to me about it