Meet Paulette Watson, from Academy Achiever

Global Tech Disruptor + Web 3 & Digital Transformation Leader. Paulette Watson advocates for no one to be left behind in the digital 4th revolution. Her focus is women and, in particular black and people of colour. Paulette Watson is driving this change in the science and tech space in the United Kingdom and Ghana. Her mission is to empower girls and women to start web3 and STEM-related (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) jobs. She leads Academy Achievers, STEM Academy Achievers Ghana and the #BeMe digital inclusion program, aiming to address the disparities around gender and inequality in the tech space by bringing one million women into the Tech space by 2030.

"I embrace failure as growth; I'm moving forward, no matter what. Failure only occurs when you give up. Failure is not a setback; it's a stepping stone to success."

When did you start your business?

What was the inspiration behind your work/business?
My daughter was the one that inspired me behind my business. I wanted to be her role model; I was concerned about the experiences I was exposed to and did not want her to go through it. So I gave up working in the financial sector and decided to become her teacher. Although it was a tough decision, it made so much sense because my childcare issues disappeared overnight. We travelled and just lived life.

What are you most excited about in your work/business?
I love that I can do what I love the most, empowering black women to succeed. I see the social impact every day – with this, I see that black women trust me. I love being authentic around them without watching what or how I say it. There's so much autonomy; black women are coming to me, and I can help.
I love it.

What has been the most challenging thing about starting your work/business?
I was surprised to discover that there were blocks deliberately there to make me fail.
I know I have a learning disability, and it takes me longer to conceptualise a topic – but once I get it, I can teach and impart knowledge to others. What I do know is that when I find it a challenge to understand something, it is not just about my disability; it is also because of the deliberate blocks and denial of the correct information. Now I have access to the right information, human capital and key supporters, and I can get in-kind support and financial assistance to grow and scale my business.

What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting a work/business?
Jot your idea down first, get a few trusted friends to run it by, and get their feedback. Then do a business case – to find out if your business idea is Justifiable, include timescales – start and end dates, when benefits will be realised, costs and ongoing maintenance costs after the project and understand the risks. Then I would seek funding for the next 12-18 months and ensure that you are clear on what you want to achieve and that it aligns with your value proposition. I would also encourage you to attend business events, sign up for business networking events, find a mentor that can support you,

Why did you enter the Women Changing the World Awards?
I was so impressed with the founder that I wanted to learn more about what she was about. I understood my why and that I was championing diversity and leading the #BeMedigitalinclusion program, I wanted to hear her why and how it added value to others. Her branding inspired me, and I wanted to see how I could do this for myself. She is my role model, someone I look up to. It's an honour to write this on the blog – 6 months ago, when I wrote this application questionnaire – I wanted to win so much that I wrote it down every single day– and here I am now, writing a blog to feature in this fantastic magazine.

What did you enjoy the most about being part of the awards?
I feel empowered to showcase what I do amongst other amazing women across the globe. I have read about all the fantastic work, and we must continue to create a collective impact. I love it.

What surprised you most about the awards?
That I won! I'm still in shock. I also like the flow of information and the emotional intelligence used when answering my questions – the professionalism of the staff team was just exceptional. They were patient and very kind. Because of that, I want to serve this excellent organisation – the business culture is just right.

How did the awards help you in your work/business?
I have received recognition and credibility for #BeMedigitalinclusion globally. This award has served as an external validation of my work and accomplishment. A light has shone on my reputation within the Tech industry as a Global leader in this field. I am being featured on a blog, getting media coverage and public attention.
It has increased my visibility; my LinkedIn followers have increased significantly, and I have new clients, customers, investors, and tech partners, leading to business growth and expansion. I love the networking opportunities that this award has provided me. I have connected with fellow awardees, industry leaders and influencers, which has led to valuable collaborations and partnerships. My staff love and believe in what I am doing; this has boated their morale and motivation to push forward the #BeMedigitalinclusion agenda of raising one million black women and girls' aspirations in STEM | Web 3 related careers. What I like about this Global award, it has contributed to enhancing my personal brand's value and perception. It has communicated to the world that my Tech coaching career services are of high quality and have been recognised by experts as a Tech leader. Lastly, this win for me will go down in History and be part of my 500-year legacy of impact!

What advice would you give to other women thinking about entering the awards?
Give yourself enough time to prepare for Global recognition. Do your research on the organisation, read all the testimonials from previous winners, read all the blogs, find out about the leaders, and ask questions – the team are just amazing. Once you are fully ready, write the questions and answer them from your perspective. Then grab every opportunity they offer you, and attend the event – I will recommend it to everyone.

What has been the best thing about starting your own work/business?
The freedom to do what I want. Even if I get it wrong, I can get up and start again. I have learned so much, having that autonomy just to be me. My belief system is my philosophy where I can influence other people, my confidence is the foundation of my public leadership, and my private belief system determines this. I believe in my skillset, vision, and my worth. I embrace my identity, surround myself with positive, like-minded individuals, read the right books, listen to motivational and educational podcasts, and allow my unique experiences and perspectives to take my confidence to the next level.

I also challenge my ideas about myself because I create my narrative. I invested in my education and skills development every single day. Knowledge is my greatest asset – I use it every single day. I have two mentors, one for business development and the other is my one, where I can share my highs and lows. I attend workshops and keep up to date with industry trends.
I embrace failure as growth; I'm moving forward, no matter what. Failure only occurs when you give up. Failure is not a setback; it's a stepping stone to success. I'm learning from my mistakes, adapting and persevering, and, most importantly, keeping it going. I'm resilient in the face of adversity, and this has set me apart from the rest.

I have built an army of supportive individuals who uplift and inspire me. I have the right allies who understand and appreciate the value I bring; this is a game changer in my personal development. Networking is a powerful tool for my personal and professional growth. I dream big; I write it down and set myself ambitious goals. I break down these goals into actionable steps and milestones. My determination and attitude have propelled me to move forward even in the face of obstacles. As Dr Majo Angelou – If you cannot change something, change your attitude! It is key for every aspect of my life.

I challenge stereotypes and biases, and I am an advocate for change. By challenging the systemic barriers I encounter daily, my voice and action have impacted my industry and beyond. I lead with authenticity and empathy. My unique experience as a black woman gives me an invaluable perspective on leadership. My ability to connect with diverse teams has driven innovation and success.

Over the last five years, I have made it my duty to strive for a work-life balance that aligns with my values and goals.
It would be best to recognise that achieving success doesn't mean sacrificing your well-being. Take time, build yourself, have many breaks, and hang out with friends; doing this allows you to perform at your best. It is essential that when you get to the top, put that ladder down and help other sisters along the way. I created the bespoke #BeMedigitalinclusion mentoring program because I know it will support the next generation of #BeMe women leaders who will make a positive cycle of progress and change – this will have a positive impact within their communities.

Celebrating my successes and achievements, no matter how big or small. My successes are my milestones, and I make it my duty to showcase them.

I get the opportunity to leave a lasting impact, break down those barriers, and inspire others to follow in my footsteps. I embrace who I am, being resilient, and lead with authenticity, where I create my future to thrive in my work and business.

What’s happening next in your work/business?
We are scaling up across Europe and Africa and reaching more black women. It involves more onboarding, tech events, mentoring opportunities, and technical training.

What are your big plans for the future?
I'm dedicated to empowering women to be the best they can be.

How can we connect with you?

2024 Women Changing The World Awards

Nominations are open now for the 2024 Women Changing The World Awards