Job Dreams: Inclusion Company Founder And Director
As part of our Job Dreams series, we speak to professionals from different careers and share their advice with you. Last month, we learned what it's like to be a Senior Systems Engineering Consultant. This month, we met Ellie Lowther FRSA, who told us all about starting her own company to support trans and non-binary people…
What do you do?
I feel sometimes it's a case of “what don't I do!” I’m the Founder and Director of Essential Learning Curve Limited, providing inclusion training and events across the UK and providing a range of services around supporting and understanding trans & non-binary identities. I also host a Sunday morning radio show on CVFM radio and run a podcast channel for my Trans Reflections audio pieces. When I came out as trans I immersed myself in the voluntary sector as I recognised that support for gender variant people was lacking understanding and I’m proud to have helped create the first trans specific safe house project in the UK.
Can you tell us what your day-to-day is like?
A typical day sees me start it with a 20 minute yoga session which I follow on YouTube! I find this helps set myself up for the day ahead. So much of the modern day work seems to be online so a three hour Zoom workshop and online meetings with groups and businesses around the country feels like a normal day to me. I do prefer to get out and deliver in person also. I recently spent a full week in Kent delivering in-person sessions and support across the county.
What do you love most about your job?
I love meeting new people so I don't actually see my work as a job, I fully believe the saying ”if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life”.
What do you find most challenging?
It’s often a difficult task managing my diary! It can be quite frustrating trying to be adaptable in recent years with working around COVID-19 restrictions, though I understand the need to keep everyone safe. It is just a constant headache at times. In a work sense, I can honestly say that I love every aspect of my work as I get to see people's perceptions change as understanding of inclusion is discussed and focused on.
What did you see yourself doing when you were a kid?
When I was a young person I wanted to be Jill Bryson from Strawberry Switchblade…an early 80’s band! In a wider sense, I recognised my dreams from a female perspective whilst navigating in a world where all other aspects affirmed me as male. This meant I spent my time locking my feelings away within the lyrics of songs by David Bowie, so I don't recall having any aspirations for when I grew up other than to ‘be okay’.
What challenges did you face in reaching where you are today?
I feel uncomfortable recounting my past as it was very testing and I certainly prefer to focus on all of the positives in my life as I feel so blessed to simply ‘be’. I am a survivor and have known poverty. I lost my way in secondary school as it was puberty that brought my gender dysphoria to the foreground, though I had no reference and simply thought it was an impossible position to live in. I have always been a person of faith and have always believed in a better tomorrow. I understand I may have achieved quite a bit in the last decade though I had no idea what was going to happen on the first day I began my social transition. I feel the challenges I have faced have given me a perspective and resilience to move forward in life without feeling the need to judge others, as I have certainly experienced the lows as well as the highs in life.
Where do you see yourself going next?
I foresee myself working in this area for another five years. I am 55 years old now and have a longer term plan to run a vegan fast food van around markets and boot sales! I know that may surprise some people, though I firmly believe we need to do what makes us happy and brings joy as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. This is an idea I have harboured for many years.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first left school?
I wish I had known that education does not have to stop when leaving the school gates. My last years at school were a car crash to be honest. When I left I felt like it was something to be escaped. The qualifications I have gained in the work I do now have been achieved in the last ten years. I can only wonder how different my life would have been if I didn't turn my back on education for the 30 years since I left the school gates.
What advice would you give to someone interested in joining your industry?
Speak to people. Get involved in your community. That is the only way you will see the issues faced and the solutions to move things forward. I would also say that if you are interested in working in my industry, it would serve you well to be mentored, so always seek to collaborate rather than compete. I would also advise you to start a LinkedIn account and connect with me! As I mentioned, I hopefully will be working in this area for the next five years and would love to empower others to break new ground beyond where we are today.
What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve been given?
Take negativity and positivity with the same grace, we learn more by falling than by pretending we never ever fell. And messing up is just part of it, if we never mess up, that must mean we are always right and I don't believe we can always be right.
What quote do you live by?
Treat everyone as your equal, no one is your superior, all you need is love!