A Rising Star of the Black British Business Awards
Since 2014, the BBBAwards have celebrated entrepreneurial excellence among the UK’s Black professionals and business owners. We showcase one of this year’s finalists in a quickfire Q&A with Hanna Afolabi
Writer: Phoebe Harper
For the ninth year in a row, the Black British Business Awards (BBBAwards) are back to celebrate the best of Black business talent across the UK.
The only premium awards programme of its kind in the UK, the BBBAwards showcases exceptional professionals and business owners from the Black community – whether senior leaders or rising stars.
As an annual ceremony, the awards are instrumental in highlighting the strength of the Black talent pipeline and promoting role models and commercial excellence across industries that showcase a more diverse representation of influential figures and substantial contributors to the UK’s economy.
Since its establishment in 2014, it has been endorsed by three Prime Ministers, the Mayor of London and global business leaders, and has come to represent a key staple in the calendar for Black History Month in the UK. So far, the awards have showcased over 350 individuals and 80 organisations who are championing Black excellence in business.
Dedicated to talent advancement, the BBBAwards are a prestigious champion of race equality as a key priority across industries, promoting the attraction, retention, and advancement of racial and ethnic minorities in the workplace.
Previous winners of the BBBAwards include Steven Bartlett, co-Founder of Social Chain and the latest Dragon on Dragons’ Den, Dorothy Koomson, award-winning writer, and Sir Trevor McDonald OBE.
For the third year running, J.P. Morgan will be the key partner with category sponsors including Baker McKenzie, Barclays, Bloomberg, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, P&G, Tranzfar, and Wellington Management.
With the 2022 awards due to take place on the 30th September, we catch up with one of the finalists in the Rising Star for Professional Services category – Hanna Afolabi.
Afolabi is the Founder and Managing Director of Mood and Space (MAS) – a real estate business based in London. As a planning and development surveyor and architect, Afolabi is passionate about the built environment. Aside from her work at MAS, she also occupies a host of advisory roles, including her position as a member of the Estates Gazette’s Diversity & Inclusion Content Advisory Panel and as vice chair of the University of Greenwich’s Construction, Property and Surveying Practices Industry Advisory Board. Afolabi also founded Black Women in Real Estate (BWRE) an organisation that brings together Black women in property with the intent for them to connect.
EME Outlook (EO): Firstly, congratulations on your recent nomination! What does it mean to you to be included as a finalist in this year’s BBBAwards?
Hanna Afolabi (HA): Thank you, I am very honoured to be selected as a finalist for this year’s awards. I believe that I am hard working and always push myself to do better, so it is extremely rewarding when my achievements are recognised and celebrated. As a Black woman in the property sector, I am very much a minority, so it is also great to be highlighting success in my industry on a broader platform.
EO: What is your current take on diversity and inclusion within your industry – do you believe that there is room for improvement, particularly in terms of visibility in senior positions?
HA: The property sector is far-reaching and touches the lives of every person. The world we live in is designed and built by people in my sector. Despite how impactful the industry is, it is majority white and male and is not reflective of our society.
There has been more conversation around diversity in recent years however the built environment has a long way to go to improve its diversity across every level, but more specifically at senior level. Seniority is important because this is where cultural changes take place.
EO: Could you reflect on your own experiences in the industry – has it been a challenging journey to get where you are today?
HA: I have definitely had career highs and lows! However, I have been fortunate to be surrounded by great and encouraging people throughout my career. I see the challenges I have faced as learning opportunities and think of ways I can do better if presented with similar situations in the future.
In general, I am grateful for the career I have had and hope to continue to have an amazing career in the coming years with the launch of Mood and Space.
EO: Finally, what advice would you share for aspiring entrepreneurs – particularly those from traditionally marginalised or underrepresented backgrounds?
HA: Firstly, your difference is your superpower! A lot of the time we consider being a minority as a disadvantage but truly, if you are great at your specialism, your difference gives you a unique perspective that allows you to stand out. Embrace that and use it to your benefit.