In this week's team blog we meet Sam Steel, 44, a key member of our admin team. Sam shares her story of a career broken to a new flexible life, and her love of #workthatworks and kitchen table working Digital Mums style.
I can say for sure that at some time or another I have owned a pair of white stilettos – I am a very proud Essex girl. Myself, my not-so-better half Adam and our six year old son Herbie, moved back to glorious Epping from Shoreditch just over three years ago.
When it comes to social media, I'm a total Instagram addict. I am very nosy so just love looking at other people’s homes, what they are eating, wearing and doing. Plus with Instagram it all looks so bloody cool.
IN THE BEGINNING
After A Levels and before I went into the Financial Sector I did two weeks work experience at Just Seventeen magazine working with Jane Goldman. She sat me in the Competition cupboard for pretty much two full weeks. It wasn't great. I used to have to post out all the prizes for the competition winners and on my last day I posted myself a pair of black BOY cycling shorts – with gold BOY down one thigh – I was a massive Culture Club fan!
WORKING LIFE PRE-DIGITAL MUMS
After the competition cupboard I went straight into the City as a secretary. One of the first suits I ever wore to work had massive huge shoulder pads and instead of a skirt it had culottes (this was power dressing in the very early 90s)! I can remember the traders all smoking at their desks and there were many that had bottles of booze in their drawers.
I stayed in Investment Banking for 22 years working up from a secretary to the trading floor in New York to an Assistant Vice President. It was like being at school for grown-ups. At your desk all day, lunch together (everybody at their desks in a big room), heads down working hard, breaks together, trips together – get the drift? It gave me a great lifestyle with a fantastic salary but it was incredibly hard work.
And then I got pregnant with Herbie and everything changed. I had known my partner Adam since I was 18. One day we bumped into each other in London and within weeks he had moved into my flat in Shoreditch. You move very fast when you are in your late 30’s. I got pregnant in our second year together.
When I went back to work after my maternity leave it just didn't feel right. There was literally no work/life balance. I didn’t want to work a 12 hour day – I dropped Herbie at nursery at 7.30am (and some of the time I was in work for 6.30am) and Adam picked Herbie up at 6.30pm. I would be working late and only see Herbie in the morning. It was a constant rush all the time. I was miserable.
Then when Herbie was three we decided to move from Shoreditch to Epping Forest. At the same time we got a completely mad cockapoo called Malibu (I have been told I look like her!) and I decided now was my moment to take some time out of work with the view to going back. It was meant to be a career break but it was a career broken. I never went back to The City.
DIGITAL MUMS MOMENT
Nikki Cochrane, one of the co-founders of Digital Mums, is one of my oldest friends. We met when we both worked in Next on a Saturday in Romford town centre at 17 years old. We both loved a prawn cocktail sandwich from M&S for our lunch. She kept suggesting that I should do the Digital Mums course. This was in-between me asking ‘what do you learn on the course,’ ‘how do you earn money through social media,’ ‘is the course hard?’ I think I was getting on her nerves. I could not get my head around the fact that I could work from home and earn a salary from it! Nikki was talking gobbledegook. My experience of social media was literally Facebook.
So I signed up for the pilot programme of the Community Manager Programme in October 2015. I was so worried when I started the course that everyone would be ‘social media savvy’ and that I'd be the only one that did not have a clue. I can remember having butterflies in my stomach just before the course started but I was worrying for nothing. I loved it from the very start and mopped up all the learning.
Then towards the end of the course Nikki asked if I might consider working for Digital Mums and being part of the Crew on the admin side. I now work for them three days a week and my hours are really flexible over the week. I get involved in the setting up of all the new courses and bringing the Mums on board, which involves a lot of organising and bit of hand holding. I work from home mostly but occasionally go into the super cool office in Hackney. Who would have ever thought that a City girl like me would be working remotely at my kitchen table and even better no one can see what I am wearing – no more power dressing!
MY #DOTHEHUSTLE TIP
Don’t let not coming from a ‘creative background’ stop you from trying something new. Nearly all skills are transferable – after nearly 20 years of not booking meetings and being a secretary I am back at it again and enjoying it! Who’d of thought it?!
I sang live on Capital Radio when I was 10 years old. We got invited along to sing ‘We All Go To Gascoigne’ which was our school anthem. I think that set me on the road for stardom as I joined drama school and auditioned for the 1983 production of Bugsy Malone. I got to the second audition then they gave me a Mars bar and sent me on my way. I also cry at pretty much anything, happy crying and sad crying. I typed this as I was just sat here crying at a stupid dog video on Facebook. Blinking social media!