The Square Mile and Me: Tavier Taylor on Texas, job interviews and Pilates
We dig into the memory bank of the City’s great and good: this week it’s the Chartered Management Institute’s tech chief Tavier Taylor.
What was your first job?
I grew up in Texas and my very first “real” job – not counting underage babysitting at the age of 11 – was at Popeye’s Chicken on my 16th birthday. I was a cashier after school and on weekends for about six months before going to work in a retail store.
When did you know this was the industry for you – and when did you know you might be good at it?
When I was in 8th grade, a company donated a computer to my school. I was fascinated and even asked my teacher if I could take it apart to see how it worked inside. When I went to university, I took a job in the computer lab at the school of engineering and it changed my life, literally. I shifted my major to Information Systems because there was one female teacher in that programme, and there were no female teachers in the engineering school.
What’s one thing you love about the City of London…
That’s it’s a city within a city, with its own vibe and culture.
..and one thing you’d change?
There is still visibly a lack of women of colour in the City of London. While there’s been much progress since the first time I visited 16 years ago, Professor Louise Ashley’s research, which specifically focuses on law firms in the City, shows that more than half of all partners are white, male and privately educated. I would like to see significant progress on this issue, particularly at the management level.
Are you optimistic for the year ahead?
Yes I am. My organisation – the Chartered Management Institute – is really shaping how businesses think about management and we’ve actually flourished during and post-pandemic. I credit the culture and people of the CMI who believe and stand by our mission.
Who’s the City or business figure you most admire?
I hugely admire Dr Elizabeth Shaw, the founder of 1000 Black Voices. An organisation that works to tackle the disadvantages that ethnic minorities face in the technology industry and in broader society.
What’s your most memorable job interview?
My most memorable job interview was at the start of my career. I was interviewed by a panel of six men where one of the interviewees actually said, “we were expecting a man for this job… it is a technical position, but since you are here, you can stay.” To which I replied, “Oh, I had every intention of staying.”
I got the job thanks to the “support” of one of the other men in the room telling me he liked my “feisty” attitude, and that I would shake things up with the boys.
If that scenario happened today, I would not have taken the job, but that role did help launch my career, and I learned a lot (both good and bad) about how to navigate in an industry that was heavily male-dominated at that time.
You’re hosting a business lunch in the City. Where are we going?
I don’t often go into the City for lunch, but I’ve always loved the Grade I architecture of the Ned on 27 Poultry.
And where’s your favourite pub in London?
Despite living in London for many years, I’ve never quite gotten into the pub scene. The only time you’ll really catch me in a pub is for a friend’s birthday.
Where’s home during the week?
My flat in Central London or the South of France.
And where might we find you on a Saturday afternoon?
My reformer Pilates class in the morning then enjoying a relaxing day with my husband. That usually involves going for a walk, maybe to a museum, or going for a drive.
You’ve got a well-deserved two weeks off. Where are you going?
Back to Texas to spend time with my family and friends. I can’t relax if I take off more than two weeks, so the time I do take off for more than a week, it’s to go back to the USA.
The Imitation of Life, I watch it with my grandmother and mother
Freakonomics by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt
Favourite band, musician or artist?
I am more into the 90s genre of R&B and NeoSoul
I don’t drink coffee
Newspaper of choice?
Apart from City A.M., the digital version of The Sunday Times.