Tosin Adeniji, Former music executive turned techie.
Tell us about yourself and what you do?
I am a proud Londoner living in New York, passionate about creative marketing and innovation in the media tech space. This currently plays out for me in my day job at Verizon, where I work within the innovation team as a Senior Product Manager. I predominately lead teams of engineers, designers, and strategists to focus on how we can better video content experiences for the millions of customers globally. Verizon’s video content spans across their FIOS cable network, streaming services or range of media assets they own such as Yahoo, Huffington Post, AOL, TechCrunch and others, so it’s a pretty colossal media ecosystem.
How and why did you get involved in tech
I always was somewhat involved in tech, mainly from a digital and social media aspect from the beginning of my career. I am a qualified chartered marketer, and I worked in the music industry in the UK for several years at record label EMI (now Universal Music) working with the likes of Spotify and Apple. While many of my older colleagues were adamant to invest heavily in the traditional marketing channels, such as CDs and record stores, I had a huge conviction that the likes of streaming and digital access would be more vital to the success of our artists such as Coldplay and Katy Perry. I used the streaming platforms to amplify the artists and got to work on huge tech-focused projects such as the iTunes festival and more. That is when I realized the power of video and chose to focus on merging my marketing expertise with the growing advancements in video technology. I could see the impact that Netflix, YouTube, and others would have on the way we consume media, and I wanted to be apart of it.
I came to New York City and did my MBA at Cornell Tech where I concentrated on working with companies such as Veed.me and Verizon Media that fed my interest further. Upon graduation, I joined Verizon officially as I wanted an innovative environment focused on providing new entertainment experiences to the masses. I wanted to ensure I could utilize my marketing expertise and merge technology with it to delight customers.
What is your experience being a POC in Tech?
In my Cornell Tech MBA class, I was the only black female and often felt like I was representative of how it was in the industry overall. I often pushed for more conversations around diversity and did the same in my current role. Overall as a person of color in the tech industry in New York, it feels positive. I work mainly out of a co-working space that Verizon provides for us as innovators, and that has introduced me to so many highly talented POC individuals. However, the place I see a lack in is increasingly visible women of color in tech and senior executives of color across corporations.
Both seem to be growing, but I would like to see much more visibility, explicitness, and support for POC to climb the ladder internally. It should be normal to see more than 1 POC in a C-suite or heading up engineering or product departments. I have noticed a lot of apparatus to get more women (often of the Caucasian persuasion) in those tech positions in the industry; I would like to see the same for POC and definitely women of color like me!
What advice would you give to a young person who wanted to enter tech?
Find your passion, Learn technical skills and develop human connections.
I would say find your interest. The great thing about technology is that it is inclusive at its essence. It is a tool that can disrupt, support and solve challenges in any industry in the world. From food to beauty, to property, to media. Often, when people talk about tech, they are only picturing the likes of Facebook and may not be as passionate about connecting people the way Mark Zuckerberg is! Find your passion and ingest the technology in it. It is possible. I’m so excited about the entertainment and video space, as well as marketing and product, yet years ago I never thought there would be a place for me in tech as it was never painted to me so broadly or inclusive as I now know it is.
Always stay on top of your learning. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in school form, but take advantage of meetups, Slack groups, medium posts, Twitter, conferences, podcasts, etc. There is so much out there that can teach you a new skill or a new perspective and better your chances of getting into tech. And if there is something not out there for you, never hesitate to start it. Not only will it be fun and open you to new challenges, but it may also be a primary reason your first employer or investor takes an interest in your work.
Lastly, although technology can feel like the majority of our work is behind our laptops, do take time to develop human connections. For me as PM, talking to people is my best form of testing. Understanding people’s motives, desires, and needs just put you a better position to build something they love!