I’ve been given honest feedback. Through it, I’ve discovered how I could develop myself. I’ve learnt never to limit myself.Ashaka Marshall
HR Advisor, Ashaka Marshall was destined to work for Hyde. It was 2003 and the Goldsmiths student needed a work placement as part of his Social Sciences Community Development and Youth Work degree.
When he first came across our stand at a careers fair, it certainly caught his eye. There it stood, with its signature branding and enthusiastic staff, amongst scores of community and church organisations all vying for the students’ attention. “I had no idea what Hyde was, but I tried to avoid it because at the time it seemed too ‘corporate’, too ‘professional’, for me,” he jokes.
When a passionate Hyde employee manning the stand told him all about our social purpose, and specifically how Hyde Plus (now the Hyde Foundation) worked, he was very interested. “He gave me the ‘big sell’ and that was it! I knew I wanted to work for Hyde.”
Ashaka approached Hyde for a work placement, was interviewed, and was thrilled to be taken on as one of our very first apprentices. He completed the first year of his internship as a trainee Regeneration Co-ordinator within our social and economic regeneration arm, resuming and completing the second half a few years later due to personal circumstances.
“The traineeship was a big thing; a huge opportunity for me. It was difficult at first, being a student without business experience or any idea of corporate etiquette.”
In 2008 he returned on a fixed term contract as a Hyde Plus Youth Development Co-ordinator. The following year he became a permanent member of staff.
Work colleagues have always been the mainstay of his work life. “I’ve been so lucky to have worked with so many good people and developed relationships across business. It’s like my extended family.”
His managers have all been ‘brilliant’ developing him both as a professional, and as a person. “They’ve all been supportive, allowing me to grow. For me, it’s not only been about training – it’s been about one-to-one meetings where I’ve been given honest feedback. Through it, I’ve discovered how I could develop myself. I’ve learnt never to limit myself.”
A highlight of Ashaka’s work at Hyde has been engaging with young Londoners - from Croydon and Lewisham to Stockwell and Islington - and making a difference to their lives.
“It’s difficult to say how you impact someone else’s life: something you think is small could make a huge difference. For me, it’s been a great privilege to work with young people and see them grow into responsible adults.”
In fact, Ashaka is so well known, both by the youth and their parents, that he is greeted in the streets - especially in Stockwell where he forged a legacy with innovative interventions and projects: “I’ve got a lot of love for Stockwell.” He is also proud to have worked on the award-winning Youth Bank programme which supported young people across Hyde’s footprint.
But after many years in youth work Ashaka decided he needed to move on. He was looking for a new challenge and a career move that would boost his own personal development. And it came about in a curious way.
Having been a staff rep since 2013, Ashaka realised that HR was where he wanted to be. So he did his Level 3 CIPD qualification with a view to making the transition to HR. But, he knew that he would have to gain experience if he was to secure a role. At the same time as Hyde Plus was going through a restructure, a colleague told him about a Trainee HR Advisor role.
“I’d been involved in youth work for 18 years, so I wanted something more grown-up, more professional. The timing was perfect. I went for it and was over the moon when I was appointed as a trainee – it was a way in to what I really wanted to do.”
This is Ashaka’s career progression advice: “Experience, Experience and more Experience! Get it any way you can. It’s the most important thing, but it doesn’t happen overnight. And have a ‘can-do attitude’ - show you are willing to try new things.”
Ashaka is pleased to be valued by his new team. He was never treated like a trainee, but as someone they saw as an advisor and who they looked to for input.
“I had previously been a specialist working with young people at risk of getting into gangs, so of course some of my skills have been transferable, and colleagues have recognised that. But in other ways, it’s a world away; I’ve had lots to learn. And thanks to the generosity of my colleagues I’m learning all the time.”
He plans to continue gaining qualifications and to specialise in employee law and change management.
In May 2017 Ashaka became a fully-fledged HR Advisor and has ‘high hopes’ for his career. “I like that every day is different and I enjoy being able to resolve issues.”