Humans of dxw: from marketing to delivery and why I’ll never read Shakespeare again

Yasmine Ahmed

I feel like I have found my people. I’ve learnt so much already, and I feel like this is somewhere I want to spread my roots for a while

When I was a kid I wanted to be a Formula 1 driver. My brother broke my heart and told me on the spot that it was impossible, women cannot be Formula 1 drivers. I decided swiftly to change course. I was about 6 years old.

It has come to pass that unless it’s a Delorean, I’m not actually interested in cars or driving. And I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. But I’ve always been told that I have a high level of empathy. I care about people and their emotions and their stories (such a drag!) and have a somewhat eerie ability to connect with them (a lot of my sentences will start out with ‘have I met you before?’).

I also love a good plan. I have to organise my whole day in a very boring way, but have no problem with throwing that all in the skip and starting again. I seem to fit the bill of a delivery lead pretty well, I think!

I am now over a year in and I can wholeheartedly say I love what I do, and feel very grateful that I get to exercise my skills extensively in my role. But there was a journey before this, so sit back and let me tell you about the before-times…

Why I will never read Shakespeare again

I did a degree in English language and literature at The University of Birmingham. It wasn’t that long ago but I still remember being one of the few diverse faces in the room…and I felt like I stood out. I studied English because I loved reading and writing stories, but after having to memorise 9 plays before an exam, I vowed never to read Shakespeare again. I don’t think I picked up a book for a very long time after my degree. I was disheartened and I didn’t know what I wanted to do after I graduated, so I copied everyone else’s pathway because at the time, I didn’t really have much career guidance.

Unsurprisingly, almost everyone in my class went on to become a teacher, but on the first day of my PGCE postgraduate course at Warwick I called the office and told them I couldn’t do it. So with a disappointed Mum and Dad, and their life-long ambition of their young daughter going into a respectable position shattered (I adore teachers, but this is definitely a cultural thing I was fighting against in my life), I threw myself into the world of work.

I started out in Marketing and Communications. I worked for a number of Universities in various marketing teams, before landing a job at a well-known children’s charity as a regional Marketing Manager, which I absolutely loved. I helped open one of Birmingham’s first young people only mental health drop in services. Which, to this day, is a huge achievement of mine. 

After that I had: 

And then a Senior Project Manager role for a tech co-operative, which led me to dxw! 

Working in a tech company

Working for a digital organisation really threw me in at the deep end, because I knew nothing about tech. I love retro games and people have always seen me as somewhat of a secret nerd, but safe to say I was terrified. Having worked for Transport for West Midlands, I was super familiar with GDS principles and agile working, but I had little idea of actual tech products and services. So I did what I always do, and laughed and cried my way through the first weeks, until I found my feet. Before I knew it, I was absolutely loving learning about coding languages (this is still something I’m not very good at and I’m okay with that) but also collaborating with clever people and making (breaking) things was super fun. 

Things I’ve learned along the way

I learnt that all those years of working with different people across different teams and backgrounds, have given me a wealth of useful transferable skills. I also learnt that I’m usually going to be the only person of colour in the room who is also a woman. I felt like I was able to use those transferable skills to get my voice heard. I stepped up pretty quickly and became a senior project manager and then employee director, and shortly after knew that I was ready for the next challenge.

I don’t believe in staying somewhere for loyalty and comfort. If you have something to give to the world, whether you feel that’s a big or a small change, you should absolutely do it. Find your Sliding Doors moment! (For anyone who hasn’t seen that movie, I apologise, but also go and watch it!).

I’m not very old but, at work, I feel about 99 years old. I think that’s because I’ve always tried to find a work and culture that fits me, so I’ve moved around a fair bit. I’m definitely a bit weird, and I didn’t know if there were places that would accept and appreciate me for who I was. I feel like at dxw I have found my people. I’ve learnt so much already, and I feel like this is somewhere I want to spread my roots for a while. Ultimately, I’ve been looking for a place where I could nurture my talents, but also work with amazing, kind and talented people. I feel like I’ve found that place.