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An Empowering Evening with Principle One and Coding Black Females

Last Friday evening, Principle One’s Jo Clark and Laura Russell delivered a training session in Business Analysis to a group of 50 women from Coding Black Females and the Black CodHer bootcamp as part of their Empowherment Day’ series. 

Coding Black Females was set up in 2017 by Software Developer Charlene Hunter to encourage black women into the tech industry and provide opportunities to develop themselves and their network while receiving support and training through regular meet ups. This isn’t the first time that we have worked with Coding Black Females; we hosted them at our office in Tintagel House for a workshop in February 2020 where we explored the use of chatbot technologies to report hate crime at sporting events. You can read about that event here.

It’s been incredible, however, to see how the community has grown over the course of this year, with events moving online, and Charlene and the team extending their network and the support they provide for those seeking to take forward their career in software.

Black Codher is a free coding bootcamp, completed part time over an eight-month period, developed by Coding Black Females and Niyo Enterprise to empower black women in the West Midlands to get into the tech industry. It has been run in conjunction with the West Midlands Combined Authority and runs until March 2021, equipping the participants not just with the skills to take on Developer roles but also provides ‘ready to work’ support and a wide range of workshops on topics ranging from Cyber Security to building your own online brand.

Attendees from around the world (including one who joined us at 1:30am local time from Australia) joined Friday’s workshop. Laura set out the goal of the session as “explaining the roles and responsibilities of a Business Analyst and

most importantly highlight how Business Analysts and Developers can work together in a collaborative partnership, and why this is important.”

Jo expanded on what a Business Analyst is and why companies need them, citing the idea attributed to Henry Ford that if he had asked his customers “what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

She described how a Business Analyst works with the customer in these scenarios to determine a list of user requirements, which meet the needs of the problem but don’t specify a solution. Jo explained how the Business Analyst remains involved to work with the customer and the development team to ensure the solution found meets the requirements.

The session also focused on what makes a good Business Analyst/Developer partnership - highlighting the need for good communication and collaboration, as well as appreciation for the different roles working together within a team. Laura also emphasised how the skills that all of us have picked up through previous work experience, whatever the sector, could contribute to success in a Business Analysis role; “we wanted to show the attendees that you can start a career in technology at any time and that neither Jo nor I had envisaged our current careers when we first started out. We were excited to be part of a network which empowers and promotes women supporting women as we look towards the future.”

Charlene Hunter, Founder of Coding Black Females expressed her enthusiasm for the event: “Jo and Laura ran an amazing and engaging session with over 50 attendees from all over the world. The session was perfect for a Friday night; they delved into their own backgrounds and gave an in-depth understanding of Business Analysis and how to create good requirements. The attendees got involved during the exercises and asked loads of questions. It was an absolutely fantastic evening and reminded me of the joy of working with good Business Analysts! Principle One have even been invited to deliver another business analysis workshop to a GCSE class in a Birmingham school as a result. Thank you, Laura and Jo, and thank you Principle One for your continued support!”

If you missed the session, you can watch it back here.

The level of engagement from the attendees was fantastic and showed a real enthusiasm and commitment to learning more about working in software engineering. We will be presenting at Black Codher’s recruitment event in November and are currently advertising roles on Coding Black Females’ new jobs board here and are keen to tap into the talent pool on the Bootcamp.

Our staff have also been volunteering as mentors for students on the Codher Bootcamp, including Georgia Braddyll-Brown, who joined Principle One in September 2020 as a Graduate Systems Engineer. Georgia signed up because she’s passionate about “supporting other women in their tech journey. Having completed an intensive conversion MSc after a first degree in a humanities subject, I understand how challenging programming can be at first, and how important it is to have a mentor to help build coding confidence. Organisations like Coding Black Females empower women by making technical knowledge and the opportunities it provides more accessible.”

The most important takeaway from the session was that no matter what your background, don’t underestimate the value of the skills you have developed elsewhere – regardless of whether you are starting on a career path as a Developer or as a Business Analyst. We will continue to support Coding Black Females and look forward to meeting more of the Black Codher participants at the recruitment event and seeing their projects presented next year.


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