Meet the Team: Sara

Written by: Emily on July 23, 2019
Tags: Day in the life of, Feminist, Inspiration, Role Model, Women in Tech

Hi! I’m Sara, the new Programme Manager for InnovateHer looking after the educational programmes in Manchester. I’m really excited to have joined this incredible team and I feel like this role is the perfect amalgamation of my experiences, passions and ambitions all rolled into one.

Sara headshot

Where did I come from?

Upon graduating university all I wanted to do was teach. I remember watching the film ‘Freedom Writers’ when I was younger in which Erin Gruwell is about to embark on her first teaching job and is explaining her motivations to a rather surly senior member of school staff. She said that she originally planned on training to be a lawyer but realised that by the time you defend someone in a courtroom, the battle is already lost. She says ‘I think the real fighting should happen here in the classroom’. Little did I know that those words would shape my whole career.

I spent two character-building years training as a Teacher of French through Teach First: a charity with a mission to provide equality through education. I loved my job and I believed in every single pupil who walked through my classroom doors each day. Together we made incredible progress, not just in French but in life and they taught me just as much as I taught them. I left the classroom in 2014 but, to this day, I strongly believe that teachers have the most important job in the world.

What did you do next?

Following a hiatus backpacking solo across Asia and Latin America, I spent two years working for a large national youth charity where I ran work experience programmes for unemployed young people aged 16-25 and supported them back into work. This role developed my skills in project management, relationship management and led me to meet some of the most incredible young people who I was constantly amazed by. I then progressed to work for a private education company aiming to inspire the next generation of teachers by offering them an alternative way into the profession. Here I gained an insight into the world of recruitment, business development and had the chance to work with some fantastic schools in the south of England doing their bit to inspire the next generation.

 

Emily and Sara from the InnovateHer team

Why have I joined InnovateHer?

When I stumbled across the job advert I couldn’t help but be intrigued. After stalking the InnovateHer, and their team members’, social media profiles I was hooked. After meeting them at interview, I knew this was the only job for me. The only way I can really describe how I feel after joining InnovateHer is … you know when you’ve been away from home for a really long time and you get back, sit on your favourite spot on the sofa, take your first sip of your cup of tea and make a noise resembling.. ‘Ahh’…? Well, that’s what it felt like joining InnovateHer. I really feel like I’ve found my ‘work home’. In fact I never really feel like I’m at ‘work’. It’s more that I get to hang out with awesome people every day and do amazing things that have a real impact. The culture is open, the flexibility real and the atmosphere buzzing.

Most importantly though is that I feel like I’m part of a movement for a cause worth fighting for. I’ve seen first hand throughout my career that the skills gap is widening. The jobs market is changing fast and tech is a booming sector. It’s an exciting industry with so much opportunity but girls are getting left behind. The unconscious bias towards encouraging boys to pursue STEM subjects rather than girls is deeply ingrained within society and as such it’s not an easy fix. If you’re not convinced, watch this video (taken from Amy Lynch’s KeyNote speech at the first InnovateHer Member Summit earlier this month).

I went to the same school as the Pankhurst sisters (albeit not in the same year!) and have consequently been surrounded by strong female role models my entire life. A sense of self-belief and a confidence that I can was instilled in me from a young age but, for many girls out there, it’s a different story. It is more important now than ever to empower girls to realise that they can become the next generation of coders, UXers, web developers, designers, digital marketers ad infinitum. If you’re reading this and have a similar job title then be sure to connect with me to find out how you can become a mentor for our pupils alongside your other commitments (all genders welcome).

What’s your first project?

In my first week, I got stuck in straight away with a really exciting collaborative project called Go Digital. We are descending upon 50 schools across Greater Manchester to get year 7 and 8 pupils excited about a career in tech. As the Programme Manager for InnovateHer, I’m now project-planning an epic 8-week after-school experience for 200 girls designed to expose the girls to new passions, connect them to industry role-models, and give them the confidence to pursue a career in tech.

Join our movement today and help us get girls ready for the tech industry and the industry ready for girls!

Follow me online at: @_sarayasmin or Sara Yasmin Ahmed (LinkedIn)

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