The leading career development conference for black and ethnically diverse professionals across the globe.



About STRETCH Conference

The STRETCH conference by Career Masterclass is the leading career development conference for Black and Ethnically diverse professionals in the UK. Held annually in October during Black History Month, it attracts thousands of attendees across various industries and locations.

STRETCH 2021 is a half-day virtual conference themed “Building for the Future”. Against a post COVID-19 backdrop of uncertainty, the world has experienced a seismic shift, with globalisation and socio-economic factors heavily impacting the labour market.

The future of work is changing right before our eyes. The STRETCH 2021 conference will explore the challenges and opportunities you’re facing as professional in today’s rapidly changing world. You’ll leave with practical insights for building a successful career in the near term, and be equipped to position strategically for the future.


Agenda for the day
All times are in UK time

Welcome Session/Opening Remarks

Career Masterclass is on a mission to democratize career growth and support the career progression of ethnically diverse talent worldwide. But what’s our big ‘why’ and why does this mission matter so much to us?

Join us as we take you through the journey of building a Career Masterclass and hear the inspirational stories of success from Career Masterclass members who motivate us to become the number one organization helping to change the narrative for ethnically diverse professionals looking to forge a path ahead.

Gazing into the figurative crystal ball definitely took on a new meaning in 2020 and inevitably most of us have been left wondering what the future holds. As we gradually return to normalcy after the Covid 19 Pandemic, the STRETCH 2021 conference aims to critically explore the challenges and opportunities of the future. Listen as Bukola Adisa, CEO of Career Masterclass, shares on how we can build for the future right from where we are today.

Throughout the day, share your learnings from STRETCH on social media with the hashtags #STRETCH2021, #BuildingForTheFuture and #STRETCHTogether and you just might win something exciting!

Here’s your cue to stretch a little, join our speed networking session, our social lounge or chat on STRETCH PLUS (our newly-launched community on Slack). We will be back.

Vinay Jha, Georgia Wilson and Segun Oyinloye
Popular opinion suggests that Career progression is hardly linear. If anything, career progression is more accurately described as a rather bumpy line at best and a roller-coaster, complete with twists and turns, at worst. So how have these professionals made it to the coveted C-suite? Hear from senior industry leaders from M&G, Sainsbury’s Bank & Global Switch on this panel as they candidly share strategies that have contributed to their success and lessons that have shaped them along their career journey.

Here’s your cue to stretch a little, join our speed networking session, our social lounge or chat on STRETCH PLUS (our newly launched community on Slack). We will be back.

Toni McKay, Hannah Awonuga and Mduduzi Mswabuki
Never before has the world seen such a globally united voice demanding diversity and inclusion in the workforce. It’s been more than one year since the Black Lives Matter movement sparked the conversations around D&I in the professional world and one year after the STRETCH Conference. A lot has happened, and we are beginning to see some changes.

Join Toni McKay, Hannah Awonuga, and Mduduzi Mswabuki as they discuss lessons from the past, some of the significant steps taken to bring diversity and inclusion to the workplace, as well as what needs to be done to ensure success in the future.

Here’s your cue to stretch a little, join our speed networking session, our social lounge or chat on STRETCH PLUS (our newly launched community on Slack). We will be back.

You will be able to choose to attend one of these three masterclasses

Masterclass 1: Building wealth for the future with Caroline Hughes
No matter what kind of work you do or what your career goals look like, building wealth for the future is something we all strive to achieve. Planning ways to increase your income, invest properly and make intelligent financial decisions that outlive you should be a priority for every working professional.

We’re probably preaching to the choir, right? But here’s the big question: where do you start from?

Join Caroline as she shares strategies and insights on how you can make smarter financial decisions that will help you build wealth for the future.

Masterclass 2: Getting ready for the future world of work with Christina Liciaga
Christina Liciaga will be sharing insights on how you can adequately plan your career for the future world of work, using case studies and practical examples.

Masterclass 3: #HowIdidit: A career acceleration playbook with Kelechi Onukogu
Kelechi has made some big bold moves, especially in the last 2 years of his career. Hear from Kelechi as he gives us first dibs on how he successfully navigated his career, through the bumpy road to now sit as MD, EMEA Head of CIB and Functions, Risk and Controls at Wells Fargo.

He’ll also share tips that will help you see what your career acceleration playbook should look like if you are out to build a successful career.

Time to network. Join our speed networking session and connect with someone new.

Got a burning question you’ve been itching to get an expert view on? We’ve got you covered with our Ask Me Anything Sessions #AMA.

Don’t miss out on an opportunity to get help from our expert lineup of speakers across a range of topics.

AMA 1: CV and personal brand assets with Tomi Ibirogba/ Anu Adejoro
Building for the future of work involves getting your CV and other brand assets right, ready and fit for what hiring managers are seeking. Hear from HR experts Tomi Ibirogba and Anu Adejoro as they share tips and answer questions on what a standard CV should look like in 2021 and the brand assets that every professional career needs in their arsenal.

AMA 2: Negotiation with Nigel Filer
Negotiation is a key skill to have as you progress along your career journey. However, most people end up leaving money on the table at different times. Join Nigel Filer as he discusses and answers questions on how to negotiate effectively at work and in life.

AMA 3: Board roles with Deborah Cooper and Sally Clark
What does it take to land board roles? Join our speakers in this session for a practical step by step approach that will help you succeed in this role. Have a million and one questions to ask? Bring it on as our speakers, Deborah Copper and Sally Clark, will be present to answer them.

AMA 4: Interviewing skills with Joseph Williams
Whether you are going for a new job or facing a promotion panel, there are a few secrets you need to know to step up your game. Join Joseph as he reveals the secrets you need to know around the entire interview process and answer your burning questions.

AMA 5: Getting started in the world of work with Temi Kamson and Phillip Paige
…getting off the starting block early…
You’ve got your sights set on university. Exciting times! Here’s the score though, in today’s competitive world, understanding what it takes to land a job after you graduate university is really important.
Kick-start your career super early by getting key insights and tips on what it takes to prepare for the world of work. Join Temi and Phillip as they answer all your questions on what it takes to get ready.

Here’s your cue to stretch a little, join our speed networking session, our social lounge or chat on STRETCH PLUS (our newly launched community on Slack). We will be back.

AMA 6: Appraisals and promotions with Adese Okojie
If you feel like it’s officially “dread season” whenever appraisal season comes round, don’t worry you’re not alone. Like it or lump it, performance appraisals aren’t going away anytime soon. So here’s our take on it, let’s look on the bright side for a minute. Performance appraisals give us an opportunity to highlight your impressive performance and they can lead to salary increases or promotions.

So how do you get ready for appraisal season, document your wins and knock it out of the park?

Join Adese Okojie as she shares insights and answers questions about appraisals and promotion.

AMA 7: Alternative Career Paths with Huma Khan and Amelie Taralle
Life sometimes takes us through different paths and in some cases, certain kinds of employment patterns may no longer fit your lifestyle. So, what are the alternatives out there and how can you confidently explore other paths?

Leveraging their own experience in navigating different career paths and working with some of the biggest organisations, our speakers will be answering questions about the practical ways to identify when it’s time to consider an alternative career path and how to make the switch with ease.

AMA 8: Mentors and Sponsors with Dupe Akinsiun
Join Dupe Akinsiun in this session with all your questions on how to identify and build relationships with the right mentors and sponsors for your career journey. She will also be sharing her top tips on nurturing these relationships and utilising the time and resources you get from mentors to attain success in your chosen career.

AMA 9: Difficult work situations with Helen Murphie and Joy Adeyemi
The grass is always greener on the other side, or so it seems until you actually get to the other side. Truth be told, no work environment is perfect and workplace drama is always going to be a ‘thing’ we have to deal with. So how exactly do you deal with difficulties at work and what happens when a situation is past the point where it can be salvaged?

Ask and hear from our excellent speakers as they give practical insights on how to face and address difficult work situations when they come up.

AMA 10: Relocation & International Opportunities with Sandra Mottoh and Ernest Ofei
Relocation! Relocation.

Getting proper knowledge about available international opportunities can be a life saver for anyone seeking to relocate.

Relocation is clearly a popular choice for a number of professionals as research has shown that 37 percent of individuals are willing to relocate to advance their careers.

Join our experts as they answer your questions on Relocation and share real life experiences and practical steps to identify international opportunities.

In a world where there are very few black women leading successful organisations, Pam Maynard stands out as an extraordinary leader.

Pam is the CEO of Avanade, a successful digital technology company owned by Microsoft. She has been at the forefront of building Avanade to be the success that is and a brand that is loved by its customers and employees. In this no-holds-barred discussion with Bukola Adisa, Founder/CEO of Career Masterclass, Pam will share on:
Her unconventional path to getting into the technology industry
Why she made a last minute decision not to study law at university
How she managed and dealt with the expectations of being the first in her family to attend University
Her leadership secrets and how she stays effective
Her top tips and advice for anyone aspiring to C-suite positions in their career

This is a session not to be missed. Hear from an inspirational and successful leader from the black community on her secrets of success.

Join us at this inspirational and engaging Fireside Chat where Rebecca Owers, Head of the Wealth Centre of Excellence, HSBC UK will be speaking to Stuart Haire, Head of Wealth & Personal Banking, HSBC UK on all things leadership.

One of the most senior leaders at one of the world’s largest financial services institution, Stuart will share candidly on:

His journey to the top
How he blends in fun with a demanding day job
His leadership secrets for leading and managing successful teams
His strategies for helping to build an inclusive organisational culture
His top tips for leaders and aspiring leaders

Come with all your burning questions as this is a rare opportunity to engage with and glean some practical insights from an inspirational leader.

Career Masterclass has also created an ecosystem that supports the ongoing development and motivation of ethnically diverse professionals through its Career Development platform. Watch as we share first dibs on our amazing new platform and our future plans.

Suzan Kereere is a champion for, and sought-after authority on, equity in the corporate space, and has driven leading-edge work to bring analytics to the forefront in the discussion on race and inclusion. In a thought-provoking keynote, she will share her journey with us and what building for the future means to her.

To bring this phenomenal conference to a close, join us to listen to a powerful and inspirational closing address that will leave you poised to position yourself for that next opportunity. You will leave inspired and motivated to STRETCH for the next level!

Your network is your net-worth! Join the social lounge to network with peers and senior leaders from other organisations. Don’t leave STRETCH without making a friend or two!

What the Attendees Say!

  • I am still so enthusiastic and passionate about a conference that occurred months ago! That is really something! I wonder how many people can say this about a professional conference they have attended? This is down to your team – creating a forum to bring together such a wonderful array of inspirational people who are so willing to share their knowledge, experience and expertise and alongside that, motivate and inspire.

    Claire Toone

    HR Risk & Controls Manager, NatWest
  • Right after the conference and all that came with me being given opportunities to develop, I am glad to say I started a new role at a lower appointed level in Commercial Banking today. Been in Personal banking with no progression route, I applied into Commercial and got the role. Thank you for the support and training to develop and take on new challenges.

    Ayodeji Oludotun-Fasanya

  • The STRETCH conference was extremely eye-opening and came at a great time where we were all settling into the norm of remote working, it was invigorating to hear from leaders across the world and set new goals. The conference enabled me to pause and reflect on where I needed to focus to grow; I would recommend the conference to anyone looking to lead their career intentionally.

    Tejal Joshi

    Insurance Commercialisation Manager at HSBC

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