Advice / Career Paths / Career Stories

Black Women Are Wildly Underrepresented in the C-Suite. Change Starts at the Entry Level.

a person with long braids and eyeglasses in front of a window
Tumi Mosedame, a product manager at Intuit.
| Courtesy of Intuit

In 2021, just 3% of computing-related jobs were held by Black women. It’s a disheartening statistic whose ripple effect reaches the highest levels of the corporate world: It was also reported in 2020 that women held the top job of CEO at just 37 of the Fortune 500 companies—a record high of 7.4%—and none of those women were Black.

Tumi Mosedame, a product manager at Intuit, believes companies have the power to change this by actively seeking out Black female talent at the entry level. “I think it’s important that companies implement real, tangible processes for advancing Black women in the workplace,” Mosedame says. “I can’t wait for the day when I see Black women in the C-suites of every company. I believe I’ll get to that point myself, but I really want it to be the norm, not an anomaly.”

Mosedame actually experienced firsthand the huge impact entry-level hiring and mentorship can make on one’s professional trajectory: She’s a recent college graduate who landed a full-time job at Intuit—the global technology platform behind products like TurboTax, QuickBooks, Mint, Credit Karma, and Mailchimp—in August 2020, after interning at the company that same summer.

Here, Mosedame talks about how her internship at Intuit prepped her for her full-time role, how the company’s Rotational Product Manager (RPM) program has provided her with valuable mentorship, and what she thinks businesses can do to create more opportunities to advance Black women to leadership positions.

What inspired you to pursue a career in financial product management?

My mother worked in financial services for a national bank in Botswana (my home country) and my father was a chartered accountant and small business owner. From a very young age, I saw the ways that financial literacy can make a positive impact, specifically how it changed the economics in our household. Growing up, I always knew I wanted to do something in finance. I actually went to college thinking I would study to be an investment banker or asset manager.

Tell us about your career path to Intuit.

I was fortunate enough to land an internship with an asset management firm and learned that I really didn’t like it! So much of the work centered around equity research: in other words, looking at stocks and how they were performing. I spent a lot of time identifying problems but not working to solve them. I knew I wanted a career that would let me do both. My journey to Intuit felt serendipitous in a way. They hosted a recruiting event at my college where we could meet with real customers, understand the issues they were facing, and work together to create solutions.

During my junior year of college, I had an opportunity to interview with Intuit for a product management internship and later accepted a return offer for a full-time position. I found out that the role aligned very well with my interests in finance and problem solving. On top of that, I could tell that Intuit had a great company culture and I deeply resonated with the mission of powering prosperity.

Tell us a little bit about your role as a product manager.

Any time a person adds a contact to their QuickBooks online platform, I’m the person responsible for ensuring that journey is seamless. It’s very rewarding to be the person who makes someone’s job easier that day. Next, a great deal of being a product manager is understanding your customers: understanding their pain points and how our systems can better help them run their businesses. I also spend a lot of time collaborating with designers, engineers, marketers, and other people on my team to make sure we’re delivering the best product possible.

What do you like best about Intuit’s company culture?

For starters, people here are very kind. I legitimately feel like everyone has each other’s best interests at heart. There’s none of this “dog eat dog” hustle mentality here. Employees really seem to understand that when one of us succeeds, all of us succeed.

I remember at the time of my internship, a lot was going on in the world—from George Floyd to Asian hate crimes. My then Director of PM Olivier Bartholot stopped a meeting and made sure he created a safe space to talk about everything going on. It was that great leadership that attracted me to Intuit. Where people are human and can feel for each other. We didn’t just wish away the problem, but we took action in our sphere of influence. I know that, statistically, we are more likely to spend more time at work than at home and I would hope that we all spend time with people who can respect us and know that realities of this world don’t stop when we get onto a Zoom call or we enter a work building. Teams work best when people can bring their whole selves to work.

Tell us about your experience with Intuit’s Rotational Product Manager (RPM) program. How has it supported you in your professional development?

Intuit’s RPM program is a mentoring group for product managers who have either recently graduated college or don’t have prior PM experience. We meet once a week and receive on-the-ground training from Intuit’s more seasoned PMs. At the same time, we also learn from and support one another. It’s really invaluable to hear someone say, “I’ve been in a similar situation and this is how I handled it.” It feels like we have a group of big brothers and big sisters helping us navigate the company, showing us how to be successful in our roles, and prepping us to be future leaders.

Speaking of being successful in your role, what in your mind does it take to succeed as a product manager?

Being successful in this role means being able to prioritize, weigh the pros and cons of different decisions, and communicate that effectively. If you think something could be better, don’t shy away from saying so—even if you’re new to the team! Secondly, product managers work with a ton of different people; a strong product manager will welcome open dialogue and foster a team where everyone feels free to bring their best selves to the project. Lastly, be willing to experiment and adapt to make sure your product is delivering the absolute best experience.

We would love to hear your thoughts on how companies can specifically work to support and advance Black women in the workplace.

There’s this saying that Black people need to work twice as hard, and I think that’s especially true for Black women. There are all these underlying implicit biases that hinder us from moving forward. I think leaders, specifically, can be allies for Black women by shining a light on all the great work that we do.

It’s very disheartening to walk into an office and realize you’re the only Black person there. It’s very disheartening to feel like nobody else has lived your experience. So much of the problem starts at the new-hire level and then retention. If companies know that there are not enough Black engineers and Black product managers, for example, what are they doing to ensure they hire more Black women straight out of college? What are they doing to advance their professional development? I think it’s important that companies implement real, tangible processes for advancing Black women in the workplace. I can’t wait for the day when I see Black women in the C-suites of every company. I believe I’ll get to that point myself, but I really want it to be the norm, not an anomaly.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve experienced in your career?

I wish I was better at communicating my achievements. I tend to undersell myself, and I’m realizing that’s not actually true humility. I understand that true humility is accurately knowing who you are. So if you’ve done great work, you’ve done great work. Don’t be afraid to own that.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

I’ve recently been reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and I think it’s a great metaphor for work: The underlying premise is, we all have a purpose and what we truly want is within us. You have the pen in your hand and you can write your own story. It’s a good reminder, and it gives me confidence to go after my goals.