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Digital Mums Five minutes with...Tasneem Sharrem

Five minutes with...Tasneem Sharrem

We're continuing our series of team blogs and this time we hear from the fabulous Tasneem, our Social Impact Officer.

THE BASICS

I’m Tasneem, 33 and live in South East London with my proudly Welsh husband, Rhys, 33, and our lovely daughter, Amina, two. Rhys and I have been married since 2011 but met in 2005 in the run-up to the wedding of some mutual friends. He was the best man, I was the chief bridesmaid - cliche central! I’m a huge foodie and back when I was in school, I did my week’s work experience at Sainsbury’s magazine and was starstruck when I met Delia Smith: true story. My favourite social media platform is Twitter as I’ve been able to use it to build up loads of local connections and really know what’s going on in my area. That said there is a lot of fun to be had on Snapchat too.

Digital Mums Five minutes with...Tasneem Sharrem

IN THE BEGINNING

I was born in Guyana, South America of all places, after my parents decided to live abroad for a bit after my dad got made redundant from a job in the UK. I’ve always thought that was pretty cool. They came back not too long after I was born and I grew up in south-east London and went to school in Plumstead. When I was in the final years of primary school, I used to spend hours after school in Plumstead library reading books waiting for my mum to come and pick me up. We moved further out for the sake of being in a grammar school catchment area (standard) and that felt like quite a significant change for me at the time. I can’t believe I’m admitting this but my teen crushes were Leonardo DiCaprio (he looked hot in Baz Luhrman’s ‘Romeo & Juliet’) and Chris O’Donnell (errr, I rather fancied him in ‘Batman Forever’ #awks).

I went to UCL where I studied French and Arabic. My year abroad was split between Paris and Damascus and was hands down one of the most formative years of my life. I feel really sad about what’s happening in Syria right now as I always hoped I would go back to visit.

WORKING LIFE BEFORE DIGITAL MUMS

My first ‘proper’ job was as an office manager at a small oil company in central London. The role totally didn’t suit me as I was alone at a reception desk most of the time but I stuck it out longer than I should have.

I finally left and became a graduate trainee with Look Ahead Housing & Care. It was hands-on frontline support work and I stayed for three years in various roles including as a work and learning advisor to young people in supported accommodation across Tower Hamlets.

I then went on to work for Cardboard Citizens, a theatre company that works with homeless and ex-homeless people. This was probably where I forged my new mantra: Work Hard, Bant Harder. Honestly, the nature of some of the issues I supported members with meant needing some serious bant to offset how tough that could be at times. Working at a theatre company also meant being able to prance around drama workshops and see lots of incredible theatre. I also staffed the odd fundraising dinner where Kate Winslet would be in attendance as our celebrity ambassador!

I loved the job but it was stressful and I knew the hours would be tricky with a baby. After Amina was born I didn’t go back but did do some freelancing for them and we still have a great relationship.

Digital Mums Five minutes with...Tasneem Sharrem

THE REVELATION

I saw a Facebook advert for Digital Mums back in September 2014. I researched more, and I swear to you, I had this gut feeling the company would go on to do huge things and that I needed to get involved as soon as I could. I signed up to the January 2015 course and was pretty stoked when I got matched with Digital Mums as my client in training.

After the course, I worked with a couple of different clients as a Social Media Manager. Then Nikki and Kathryn asked me to research and write a report for them on how we might implement a mentoring scheme for mums on low incomes. The next thing they asked me to join the team as Social Impact Officer. I was thrilled; the perfect job for using my third sector experience.

DIGITAL MUMS LIFE

I work with Dr Richard Hazenberg at the University of Northampton on the social impact of our courses on our students. That’s why we ask everyone to complete a survey before they start the course and another a year after graduating.

We then use this data to measure the progress our students have made which is really important as it measures the social impact of what we do. I then write reports that really dig down into this data.

I also set up and now manage the pilots for our bursary scheme and mentoring programme. Digital Mums is committed to locking in 10% of its profit to helping low income mums. We are running the first pilot now with some brilliant mums on our Social Media Management Course. Each mum gets assigned a mentor who is a graduated Digital Mum that supports them through the course. My job is to regularly check in with our mentors and the bursary mums. Once the mums graduate in the summer I’ll then spend time evaluating it before we decide on next steps. It has been a huge learning curve!

TOP DIGITAL MUMS MOMENT

Definitely when I was asked to represent Digital Mums at a conference about best practice in social enterprises in Tirana, Albania. I’ve never had to go abroad for work so that was super-exciting for me. While it was daunting giving my presentation, I felt so proud and truly honoured to have been given that opportunity.

Digital Mums Five minutes with...Tasneem Sharrem

MY #DOTHEHUSTLE TIP

Get yourself to networking events that happen in real life, and don’t force conversation and make it embarrassingly salesy. I was really nervous the first time I went to a Girls in Tech event after graduating from Digital Mums. But a casual chat with a brilliant female developer landed me my first paid social media management role.

WHO KNEW?

I hosted a food-focused radio show called Brown Sugar while studying part-time at Goldsmiths University. There would be a given food theme each week and all the tracks I would play would focus on that theme as well as all the chat. You can still listen to my archived shows!

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