It’s a playground, no, really
Written by Alex Lawrence-Berkeley, Head of New Projects and first employee at Sense Media
Rob and Soph are blogging about their three year journey, so I can write about my two year journey but perhaps aim for 1/3rd the length… equitable treatment. Not equal, as I learned this week when I saw a cartoon neatly summarising the difference in meaning between those words.
Equal treatment is when everyone gets the same support, even if some might have further to progress to reach the same goal. Equitable treatment ensures that people get support tailored for them, so everyone reaches the same goal. Better still is that obstacles are removed altogether, of course, so everyone can have what they need, when they need it, in the way that best suits them.
Seeing that cartoon neatly summarised how I have been able to think, be creative, and work on new products and services that we deliver to our clients, customers, readers and viewers. It’s not the primary motivator, or indeed the main purpose of my role, but it serves as a helpful backdrop and is neatly aligned with the values I have.
We give away content on YouTube, which removes obstacles to information for an international community that is hungry for more. We subsidise access to events for start-ups, as well as women working in engineering where gender imbalance represents a problem, and we involve ourselves in development projects through government and non-government organisations to improve flow of information.
None of these directly make money, but being part of the conversation means we can play a longer game which pays off in visibility, influence, returned favours and good will. We’ve been ‘paying it forward’ for as long as I’ve been here, and long may that continue. It makes me enormously pleased to be part of a company whose influence far outweighs its size, and that’s reflected by the numerous approaches I receive at events where strangers come and thank me for what we do as a company.
I joined by leaving my comfort zone, and thrown immediately in the deep end, marketing our planned products. I was impressed by the vision, and committed to the work without hesitation, it quickly became more diverse, and as more specialist and task-focussed people have joined the team, my own responsibilities have thankfully simplified. Gone are the late nights and stressful lack of sleep, here to stay are the fantastic brands and activities I love to be part of.
My own personal journey has also been part of that change, a couple of health issues and injuries, a couple of family issues, and unwavering, unhesitating support from my employer through those have built in me a loyal and passionate advocate for not just what we do, but also how we do it.
I am supported to write creatively, to experiment, to have time to think, to challenge others and more importantly, myself. For a restless mind, those are important traits in an employer, and have helped me learn and grow into a better employee and supporter of my colleagues, talking openly about things that matter to me, and help my bosses – Rob and Sophie – learn from both my experience, and the challenges that I bring to their table. Dealing with them, not least my ‘mild’ Asperger’s and all the pros and cons that hauls in its wake, has helped them and me become more comfortable with what they do, as well as who and how I am as a person.
The main upside of this experience has been that I can feel that I am genuinely utilising all the assets I bring to the business, and that I can, despite grey hairs in my beard, finally feel at home within a company where I have influence and am able to be creative. Most of the time, I’m just in a playground.