An #UPFRONT conversation with Efua Akumanyi
Meet Efua Akumanyi: software developer turned entrepreneur. In 2016, after over a decade in the technology industry, Efua decided to start her own company. She now serves as the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Furnishful, a furniture marketplace based in South-East London.
Efua received a degree in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence from the University of Sussex. She worked for over 15 years as a software developer and contractor in a variety of sectors including charity, legal, insurance, medical and start-ups.
Furnishful is a shopping aggregator dedicated to the discovery of beautiful items of furniture and home décor. The site enables users to browse thousands of products from over 30 well-known retailers, all in one place. Furnishful is part of the Microsoft BizSpark Startup Programme.
Efua’s motto is ‘see it to be it‘, and she’s recently done a number of public speaking engagements in order to inspire and encourage other women who are interested in technology roles, startups and entrepreneurship. She is a member of Coding Black Females and has served as a mentor for the Aspire Foundation.
We spoke to her to learn more about her journey and what she continues to do to grow her confidence.
What does confidence mean to you?
I believe confidence means to have conviction in what you do despite any fears you may have.
“To have confidence doesn’t mean to be absent of fear, but to do what you do with strength and belief whilst still maintaining humility and openness.”
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered? How did you overcome them?
My greatest challenge to date has been learning to voice my opinion in professional environments.
A lot of my confidence has come with age and experience, but some has come from challenging myself. Putting myself in situations where I do not have a choice but to share my experiences with a room of people I have never met before. As I have worked in numerous work environments, I also came to realise that even very senior people do not know everything and are ‘learning as they go’. That made me realise that if you wait until you know everything before putting yourself forward, you will be waiting forever!
What are some things you have on the horizon for building or challenging your confidence?
I think public speaking is one of the more challenging tasks I have experienced, and I am increasingly putting myself forward to talk on subjects such as women in tech and building a startup. I find that even though this can be very nerve-wracking, public speaking has been so rewarding in terms of sharing experiences and connecting with people.
What would your advice be to people reading who want to be more #UPFRONT?
Self-reflection is a great tool to establish what may be blocking you. I used to seek out comfortableness (and often still do!). I have since learnt that being uncomfortable can be a real source of growth.
“Put yourself in challenging situations that force you to grow, such as networking and public speaking. You will likely find that a lot of other people experience the same fears as you.”
Also, consider that you have life experiences that other people could really benefit from. So public speaking becomes less about you and more about what you can give to others. It’s amazing how many people may approach you after a talk to say how helpful they found it to their own particular circumstances.
Why do you think organisations like #UPFRONT are important?
Giving people a support network and framework to overcome their fears is so valuable. It can really help in both your professional and personal life and I think the sooner you can gain confidence in things like pubic speaking the better!
Sharing your story takes courage. Thanks to Efua for doing so, it’s nothing short of inspirational.