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Brenda Amwayi is a Talent Acquisition Specialist here at Shift Technology.

In this instalment of the “Four Questions with” series we talk with Brenda about her career path, the importance of International Women’s History Month, and moments that have shaped her personal and professional identity. 

Shift Technology: Tell us a bit about your career background and what brought you to Shift? 

Brenda Amwayi: My career journey has been quite unconventional, which has shaped my perspective uniquely. Unlike the typical trajectory often associated with STEM fields, my path took a different turn. While pursuing my studies in Math and Science at university, I found myself questioning whether it truly aligned with my passions. Growing up in Kenya, I was exposed to engineering, but it didn't resonate with me during my university years. While attending a career fair, I encountered an internship opportunity in buying and planning. Intrigued by the chance to explore something new, I decided to give it a try. Upon deeper reflection, I realized that my interests leaned more towards data analysis rather than traditional buying and planning. This realization led me to explore management roles, which became the cornerstone of my early career. Whether it was managing diversity projects at my university or leading teams, I found fulfillment in these roles. 

As I delved deeper, I discovered my passion for recruitment, particularly in fostering diverse and inclusive workplaces. While my early experiences exposed me to the realm of recruitment, I yearned for more autonomy and impact in the process. This drive led me to transition to an agency partner, where I collaborated with esteemed firms across various industries. However, it was my move to France that brought about a pivotal shift. Intent on immersing myself in the language and culture, I found myself at a crossroads. Fate intervened once again when I stumbled upon Shift, a company in need of English speakers. This unexpected turn of events aligned perfectly with my expertise and aspirations.

Now, at Shift, I find myself in a role that seamlessly integrates my diverse skill set and experiences. What initially seemed like accidental occurrences have, in hindsight, shaped my career trajectory in ways I couldn't have imagined. I am grateful for the journey that has led me here, where I can finally leverage my talents to make a meaningful impact.


Shift Technology: Reflecting on your career, are there any particular moments or experiences that stand out as turning points or milestones? How did these moments shape your professional identity and aspirations?

Brenda Amwayi: Throughout my career, I’ve encountered pivotal moments that have fundamentally shaped my professional identity and aspirations. These experiences, while challenging at times, have served as crucial turning points that guided me towards clarity and growth.

One such moment arose during my time at an organization where I found myself at a crossroads after requesting a promotion to New York City. Despite my dedication and hard work in running the program, I was presented with a different role focused on people analytics. While this shift seemed logical on the surface, it quickly became evident that it didn't align with my true passions. For nine months, I grappled with a profound sense of discontentment, realizing that I had veered away from my desired path of creating meaningful impact in a people-oriented capacity.

It was during this period of introspection that I made the bold decision to resign, despite lacking a backup plan. The decision to walk away from a seemingly ideal job was met with disbelief from my colleagues and employers, who made multiple attempts to retain me. However, I remained steadfast in my resolve, recognizing that my well-being and professional fulfilment outweighed any external pressures.

As I navigated through subsequent career transitions and geographical relocations, I remained guided by a steadfast belief in transparency, empowerment, and personal development. I recognized the importance of advocating for oneself, setting boundaries, and actively pursuing opportunities that resonate with one's passions and values.

These moments profoundly shaped my professional identity by reinforcing the importance of authenticity, resilience, and self-advocacy. They taught me the value of staying true to my passions and values, even in the face of uncertainty. As a result, I've become more empowered to assert my worth, set boundaries, and pursue paths that align with my aspirations.


Shift Technology: As we celebrate International Women's History Month, can you share some insights into the challenges women face in the workplace, and how HR initiatives can empower and support women throughout their careers?

Brenda Amwayi: Certainly. My experiences as a woman in the tech industry have highlighted some specific challenges that women often encounter. One significant issue is the lack of representation. In my past work environments, I found myself as the only woman in the room, which can lead to decisions being made in a vacuum without diverse perspectives. This lack of representation extends beyond the tech sector, with women still vastly underrepresented in STEM fields and in leadership positions across industries.

As a woman of color, I also face unique challenges due to intersectionality. While allies may assume common ground based on minority status, the reality is that systemic inequalities affect marginalized groups differently. Despite efforts to promote diversity and inclusion, many organizations still struggle to address the nuances of intersectionality effectively.

One example of this is workplace culture. I've encountered situations with my past companies where outdated attitudes and biases persist, such as being judged based on attire or encountering insensitive remarks. In one instance, I had to escalate concerns about a dress code policy that disproportionately targeted women and marginalized groups. It's disheartening to realize that without intervention, such policies can persist unchecked, perpetuating systemic inequalities.

When it comes to addressing these challenges, HR initiatives play a crucial role. However, I believe that a broader approach is needed beyond traditional policies. While diversity and inclusion initiatives are important, they should not be limited to HR departments alone. Instead, they should be embraced as leadership initiatives supported by boards of directors and senior executives.

I advocate for a focus on learning and development initiatives that promote inclusivity and empower employees to drive change from within. By fostering partnerships between diverse teams and providing platforms for open dialogue, organizations can harness the collective wisdom of their workforce to address systemic issues effectively.

Ultimately, creating an inclusive workplace requires a multifaceted approach that goes beyond policies to foster a culture of belonging and respect. It's everyone's responsibility to champion diversity and inclusion, and by working together, we can create workplaces where all individuals thrive, regardless of gender, race, or background.

That’s why I’m proud to be participating in The IDEA Advisory Council at Shift, a program  committed to fostering inclusivity and empowerment within the company. With a focus on collaboration, education, and celebration, the council aims to amplify diverse voices and perspectives. By partnering with the ESG Steering Committee, Shifters have the opportunity to contribute their ideas and insights to shape future programs and initiatives. Through creative educational initiatives, Shifters can expand their understanding of inclusion, diversity, equity, and allyship topics. Additionally, the council celebrates the traditions and accomplishments of Shift's diverse community, recognizing the importance of diversity in driving innovation and success. 


Shift Technology: What does Decisions Made Better mean to you?

Brenda Amwayi: In the context of Shift, being an AI for good company permeates everything we do, both internally and externally. It's evident in how we prioritize our customers, support our employees, and align with global needs. I take pride in working for a company that leverages artificial intelligence for the betterment of the planet and its people, encompassing everything from internal processes to external partnerships.

As an HR practitioner, "decisions made better" takes on a nuanced perspective. It means recognizing the diversity within our company, which boasts over 40 different nationalities. Each individual brings unique experiences and perspectives, and it's crucial not to overlook these in decision-making processes. By embracing this diversity and avoiding operating in a vacuum, we ensure that our decisions align with the best interests of our employees and the ever-evolving landscape of the Insurtech field.