Iesha Small

writing, career pivots, side hustles

Build you career like an entrepreneur.

My Real Career Story 2023 Draft 1

For many of us our LinkedIn and professional bios don’t inject enough of our real motivations and personalities so this is my first draft at trying to be less boring.

I’m working to create a fairer society 

I’ve approached that desire in a variety of ways: 

Teaching and leading in inner city schools. 

Researching and supporting charities  in an education and youth think tank to influence on the ground practice and national policy makers.

Leading on policy and creating wider access at national level in the outdoors sector.

Leading on creating change at policy and sector level in a large national funder to reduce youth violence. 

*still sounds a bit corporate but I’ll keep going*

I’m from a working class, immigrant family and have repeatedly worked with and in marginalized communities nationwide.  So I have developed a particular interest and skill in stakeholder engagement and participatory  research. 

I actively make sure that the people affected by any change I’m trying to implement are well represented in their own voice. I’ve done it with people of all ages all over the country across the social spectrum. I’m genuinely interested in people and that builds trust. 

My family wasn’t well connected but they cared about education and I eventually went to a world class university to read  mechanical engineering. I was in the minority as a working class, young Black woman, from a state school.  My educational experience taught me how to interact and connect  with people used to wealth and power.  

That’s been pretty useful in rooms full of donors, politicians  business leaders and board members. 

I got leadership positions relatively  young in my career. I’d been academically successful. I’d won an industry award for my engineering masters work. I approached leadership like the logical STEM graduate I was. 

I failed.

People aren’t equations. They aren’t always logical and they are motivated by more than facts. 

So I had to learn how to motivate groups of people across a wide range of ages and backgrounds and build great professional relationships to achieve a common cause. 

That skill has allowed me to build great networks and connections time and again in various sectors, education, nature and the outdoors, non profit, photography. 

The first school I became Head of Maths in had three head teachers in three years and three names changes over four years. 

My boss walked out one day and never came back. I took over and eventually had a breakdown, just as he had. My break down was after delivering the best results the school maths department  had to date. 

At that time I took up photography and eventually decided I wanted explore mental health and reduce the stigma  around talking about it. So I started a documentary photography project. This was the beginning of  my interest in listen to people to  capture their voice and to create a compelling narrative. It’s a skill I’ve been continually homing for over a decade. Which has led to writing, directing, speaking and broadcasting . 

As a teacher, I learnt quickly that most kids did not love maths as I did and many found it hard. I put in lots of effort and consistent deliberate  practice and sought  input from more experienced peers. Eventually I learnt how to consistently explain complicated concepts clearly and in a way that connected with students of all abilities. 

When I lost my voice I learnt how to communicate clearly without speaking. The kids still learnt. 

When I had students who spoke no English I learnt how to explain across cultures. The kids still learnt.

This skill has helped me explain research and facts in an understandable way to non technical audiences in workshops and national media. 

My story doesn’t fit a neat one liner but it explains why I’m so fascinated by communication, storytelling,  relationships, learning  and creating change.  

It’s why I generally like joining or working with organisations at times when then they are starting or pivoting , setting up a new division or still small enough to be agile. I’m not a status quo person. 

This is the first draft of my new linked in bio. It’s too long. 

I’ve learnt from working working with  Loic Menzies that the real magic happens in the edit (gah!) so a lot of it will be cut but the lady with no personality and a tight bun is finally leaving. 

I share this to encourage those of you whose story really matters and is pivotal to what you do professionally to consider it and share it. 

In certain worlds  everybody has a degree. 

Everybody has been to a prestigious university.

Everybody is skilled. 

Everybody has a certain type of experience.

You know what’s unique? Your particular backstory and how it relates to what you do now.

So what’s personal to you? 

What sets you apart? 

Love you long time. 

Iesha Small in red dungarees smiling

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My Real Career Story 2023 Draft 1