When I was younger it never occurred to me that certain paths may or may not be available to me as an individual because of what I look like. I was very fortunate to grow up in a household where my mum made it very clear that I could do, and be whatever I wanted to and because of her unwavering support and belief in me I never doubted it.
It was only around the age of 19 when my mind started to linger on norms that just didn’t feel right to me. Whilst volunteering in Sri Lanka, my polite guide expressed that women were not permitted to be out past sunset, and a woman’s best chance of stability was to get married at 18, and that’s just the way it was. I was stunned. I thought of the girls that I became close to whilst teaching in the orphanage and I thought of their future. I thought of my future.
Following my travels I ventured on to start my degree at a prestigious and celebrated university where I studied Graphic Communication – I was proud of myself and excited to pursue my potential. After a short while on the course I came to realise that all of my lecturers were men, white men – the opposite of me. I began to notice that it wasn’t just my lecturers, that this was mirrored throughout the infrastructure of the university and as I looked around… the wider world. I began to question if my tutors could ever understand the ideas, concepts and experiences that shaped my work. It was then that I started to understand the importance of, or lack of, representation.
During my final year I began to research in more detail what was happening in the creative industry and where I wanted to start my career. Again, I found myself perplexed by how many men occupied senior roles, especially when the vast majority of people on my course were women. I felt confused and exasperated but I remained positive that I would find somewhere that as right for me.
When I saw Walkgrove were hiring, I can only describe what came as a feeling of knowing – I knew that this was the place I wanted to start my career. So anyway, I applied and left my initial interview on a high – the fact that I was interviewed by two women in senior positions only elevated me higher. A few weeks later I got the call to say they would like me to join their team and I was over the moon.
I was nervous and excited to start and after my car breaking down on me on my first day and arriving via an AA van (which is a story for another time), I was welcomed by a warm office of people. Can I tell you how refreshing it was to walk into an office balanced with men and women, and of different ages? Not to mention that the role of managing the company is equally shared by Sarah Smith and Andy Wiles.
Fast forward three months as a marketing associate for Walkgrove and I love it. I have learnt so much and more importantly I feel valued. I’m delighted to be a part of Walkgrove’s growth and excited to see where this journey takes me.