Jacky Wright, who is of Jamaican ancestry, has been named as United Kingdom’s most influential Black person by The Powerlist 2022 – the annual list of the UK’s most powerful people of African, African Caribbean, and African American heritage.
The tech entrepreneur ranked ahead of Manchester United footballer and child poverty campaigner Marcus Rashford, Netflix (NFLX) vice president Anne Mensah and Oscar-winning actor Daniel Kaluuya in the annual list, which is sponsored by companies including PwC, Facebook (FB) and Mastercard (MA), according to CNN.
Wright is the chief digital and corporate vice president at Microsoft US. She was born in London but has spent much of her career in the US. Her father was born in Jamaica and served in the Royal Air Force during World War II.
Wright told CNN that it was his father’s experience with racism that made him move the family to the US. “My dad and uncles were all from the era of Enoch Powell and had a firm belief that change was going to take much longer in the UK than the US, where he thought we had a better opportunity,” she said.
Prior to assuming her current role as chief digital and corporate VP at Microsoft, Wright held roles at BP and General Electric. Also, she served as the digital information officer at HM Revenue and Customs, a position she held for two years on secondment. She returned to the software giant in 2019.
Wright attributes her success to her decision to migrate to the US. According to her, she found more opportunities in the US than in the UK. “In hindsight, I would tend to agree,” Wrights points to the decision of her dad to move the family to the US. “Because I’m not sure I would be chief digital officer at Microsoft had I not been in the US taking a series of career steps.”
According to her, seeing Black women in several leadership positions in the US boosted her confidence and also paved the way for others who look like her.
“Part of it relates to having a support group, having role models and seeing what I could be, based on looking at some of these women,” she told CNN. “We’re talking about [former Xerox CEO] Ursula Burns and [Under Armour board member] Jerri DeVard and other women [of color] in senior positions that didn’t exist in the UK.”
Wright is a graduate of the City University of New York and is a Quality Six Sigma Master Black Belt. She has used her career to advocate for inclusion and diversity in the technology space.
The Powerlist was launched by Powerful Media in 2007 to “showcase Black role models to young people.” Nominees are judged by a panel of leading Black doctors, lawyers and company directors.
“The Powerlist continues to be a great showcase, acknowledgement and reminder of the amazing individuals of African, African Caribbean and African American heritage we have in the UK and I would like to congratulate each and everyone on the list,” Powerful Media’s CEO Micheal Eboda said.
Eboda described Wright as a “true professional,” a “role model” and a “shining example of professional excellence”.