When Black Women Talk Tech announced that Peggy Alford — the EVP of sales at PayPal — would be hosting a fireside chat at the Roadmap to Billions conference, attendees couldn’t have been more excited. But, perhaps, no one was more excited than Alford herself.

“You know, I have to say this was a long time coming,” she told AfroTech. “It’s nice to see that, more and more, Black women are taking charge of their own careers, especially in the tech sector, and to see them come together in such a way to let everyone know that they’re here? I couldn’t be happier.”

Photo Credit: Road Map To Billions

The Roadmap to Billions is a conference built from the perspective of Black women that Black Women Talk Tech organizes. The organization empowers Black women who are driving innovation worldwide within untapped markets that can unlock billion-dollar opportunities. Roadmap to Billions is the only tech conference created by Black female founders for Black female founders and supporters of the community. It showcases the brilliance of Black women building scalable companies while building deep connections and creating real funding opportunities. Attendees gain insight and learn valuable lessons from those that are paving the way to success.

For Alford, speaking at the conference was a great way to provide opportunities to the attendees, as well.

“We need Black entrepreneurs and businesses to survive and thrive, and PayPal is committed to ensuring they succeed in the new digital economy,” she said while adding that she strongly supported the mission of Black Women Talk Tech and the Roadmap to Billions. “I am positive that the next Black-owned Unicorn, Decacorn, and maybe Hectocorn founder was in the audience of this conference.”

In her senior leadership capacity at PayPal, Peggy Alford’s primary role is to oversee the global sales and distribution of PayPal’s products and services. She also leads the teams focused on strategic customer success and go-to-market efforts that help drive PayPal’s position as the preferred digital payment method for consumers and businesses around the globe. At the conference, she talked about her leadership journey, PayPal’s work to support small businesses and help them transition to the digital economy, and progress on the company’s $535 million commitment to support Black-owned businesses and underserved communities.

But more than anything else, Alford said that it’s important for aspiring Black professionals to join organizations like Black Women Talk Tech for reasons that go above and beyond the professional.

“Black women, especially, run into the problem of being the ‘lonely only’ in the room,” she said. “Things are changing now, of course, but no matter how far we’ve come, we still have a ways to go. And before we get to where we need to be, it’s important to surround ourselves with women that look like us, act like us, and understand us and our unique experiences. By building a support system where we can help each other, we can not only achieve equality, but equity, too.”

Editorial note: Portions of this interview have been edited and condensed for clarity.