Our latest team blog is from the brilliant Penny Othen, 40, senior course tutor and marketing guru here at Digital Mums. She talks to us about her flexible working life and plans to become a champion hula hooper...
I live in Clapton, Hackney with my lovely daughters Millie aged 9, May aged 6 and Jake, my partner of 21 years. I’m a total tea fiend and can’t get through any day without at least 7-8 cups. When something stronger is in order, I love a G&T and have recently discovered the delights of an ameretto sour!
My favourite social media platform is still hands down Twitter. How amazing is it to be able to connect real time with such a broad range of people on such a broad range of topics, get the latest news and read real-time, entertaining commentary on your favourite tv programme! I’m also getting gradually addicted to Snapchat.
In terms of hobbies, it’s been hard to squeeze many in recently as I also launched my own business last year, I designed and now sell the ScooterSlingz bag which was designed to help parents carry and store their children’s scooters (more on this later!) I do however, usually play netball twice a week. I’m planning to learn to play the Ukulele (so far I’ve taken it out the case to tune it) and I recently made a (drunken) deal with a friend that I would learn to hula hoop this year…err.. And if I could only eat one thing ever it would be dark chocolate or some sort of cake – how bad is that?
IN THE BEGINNING
I’m an Essex girl, born in Maldon (of Maldon Sea Salt fame) and brought up in Witham (between Chelmsford and Colchester) and lived in the same house until I was 18. After college I headed off with friends to live and work in Crete, working in bars, handing out flyers (possibly my first marketing role?) and generally having fun.
At 19 went to study law at the University of East Anglia in Norwich where I had three fantastically fun years and also met Jake. After Uni, Jake and I went travelling – a year in Australia and 6 months in South East Asia then back to the UK and moved to London.
WORKING LIFE PRE DIGITAL MUMS
After travelling, I couldn’t quite face the thought of heading back into full time education in order to pursue a career in Law and so fell into a Marketing role with a big city law firm. Jake and I moved to Amsterdam in 2002 and I started working for Diageo in one of the Global Brand teams.
I held various Global Brand Management roles over the 7 years I was there (mostly in Scotch Whisky and Gin categories) working on some amazing brands, defining global brand strategy, developing growth drivers for the brands and supporting local markets around the world to implement the strategy and programmes. It was an amazing, fast paced job with lots of international travel in a really fantastic organisation.
Millie was born while we were still in Amsterdam but we came back to the UK soon after to be closer to family. I then worked for Diageo for a couple more years on a part time basis but it was difficult to do the Global role and when our second daughter May came along I knew I wouldn’t be going back. I had a couple of years of being a full time mum then gradually started picking up small freelance marketing projects I could do flexibly from home but essentially the focus was all on the girls.
At the end of 2013 a parent friend from school sent me a tweet about Digital Mums who were looking for some local Hackney mums to be part of a pilot programme. I applied, was accepted and in January 2014 I started on the pilot course. Post course I ran the channels for Hackney Social, Nikki and Kathryn’s first company which focused on providing social media training and workshops for food start-ups, then I moved on to running other client social media channels.
First there was a financial capability project for social housing tenants, then the UK launch of Nicki Minaj’s MYX Fusions drink (definitely some scope for a bit of variety in social media!) Around this time I also launched my own company, ScooterSlingz which is an innovative solution to carrying micro scooters when you’re on the go or for storing them at home. I was delighted to be awarded the Gold Award from BizzieBaby’s parent tester panel a few months after I launched. It was busy times!
DIGITAL MUMS LIFE
In 2015 I started running some of the strategy calls for the trainees and programme partners on the Strategic Social Media Manager Program and by the end of last year this had evolved into the full course tutor role I do now. Each month I have 2 cohorts of five students who I provide support to throughout the course. I facilitate and provide guidance on the initial strategy calls with the trainee and programme partner, provide feedback on campaign plans and various other assignments, keep track of student progress and work with the central team to refine processes and iron out any issues.
In the last few months I’ve also been getting involved with the Marketing at Digital Mums, pulling on my earlier experience to help define and refine the brand and marketing strategy.
I currently work 3 days a week for Digital Mums, with my hours spread across the week to fit around my other commitments. I’m able to do all the school drops offs/pick ups so don’t need to have any childcare which is great. It also means I can help out on the occasional school trip, go to all the assemblies, sports days etc. Things are busy at times but it generally works really well.
TOP DIGITAL MUMS MOMENT
I love the banter on Slack. Sometimes I sit at my desk giggling all by myself. I almost always work from home but feel genuinely connected to the team.
MY #DOTHEHUSTLE TIP
Just take a deep breath and go for it. You’re probably more skilled, more knowledgeable and more amazing than you usually give yourself credit for. Search engines are your friend – if you don’t know, they will…
I once had a job counting people at a station late at night in Perth Australia (for an engineering company doing some sort of capacity planning). People thought we were homeless and sometimes threw us money.