Introducing our new Community Manager

Sophie Wendell is here to support and strengthen our community of individual members and meetup organisers.

Sophie Wendell, a software engineer at Zoo Digital, has just joined our freelance team at Sheffield Digital to help us do more for the individuals in our community. As Community Manager, she’ll be engaging with members and meetup organisers; connecting and supporting the community of individuals that are so important to Sheffield’s vibrant and talented tech scene. In this interview, Sophie tells us more about herself and her plans for the new role.

How are you involved in Sheffield’s digital scene?

I’ve worked at Zoo Digital since I graduated about six years ago and I’ve held a few different roles there. I’ve had what’s called a ‘squiggly career’ – going from working in the production side where we create subtitles and dub audio; to R&D, where I now create and build products everyday – which is cool! I’ve been going to the Women in Tech meet-ups for the past year and I have loved them. There’s such an amazing crowd of people there, sharing insight on topics like imposter syndrome. Hearing from very senior women discussing the same issues that I experience – it’s great and it’s really fun.

I’ve only heard about this type of event through Sheffield Digital, so I’m keen to make sure that we continue to amplify what’s going on.

What do you think of the digital industries in Sheffield?

I think Sheffield is doing really well now, over the past couple of years it feels like there has been a huge boom. There is a buzz around the city, which I think is a combination of Sheffield Digital’s work and the efforts of Marketing Sheffield, like the new ‘What Makes Sheffield’ campaign, it really feels like there’s a lot to be excited about. Whereas Leeds and Manchester were traditionally the places in the north for tech companies to set up, they are now over saturated and expensive, and don’t really have the personality of Sheffield.

What attracted you to the role of Community Manager at Sheffield Digital?

In my previous role as a translation coordinator at Zoo, I worked entirely with freelancers, people who you often don’t meet because they work all over the world but you end up building close working relationships with. Freelancers are always doing cool and interesting work, and tend to be really excited about what they’re working on – which is contagious!

Sophie will be engaging with members and meetup organisers; connecting and supporting the community.

Seeing this role, and seeing that Sheffield Digital wanted to bring together freelancers, independent contractors and all kinds of people who are into tech – it sounded like a perfect opportunity to do what I love with the type of people I love. The Sheffield Digital community is made up of people who love the city and love tech and I want to help this community to grow.

How can we do more for individuals in the tech community?

I feel like our community could have a greater sense of shared identity; everyone is there to connect with Sheffield Digital, but not to each other. So, my focus is on building up the community and strengthening connections between members. I’d like to introduce people who are working on similar things, or complement what each other are doing. I’m confident that there are a number of people that could be helping each other out, but don’t know that the opportunities exist.

What are your priorities in your new role?

I’ll be going to various meet-ups so I can get to know the organisers and the mini communities that exist. I want to get a better idea of what groups we have, what interests are there and the type of people who are involved. I’d like us to start running ‘Spotlight’ features on individuals – people who are doing really interesting stuff, who want to shout about their work and why they love being in Sheffield.

What’s your message to our individual members?

Talk to me! I’m a good listener and I love to hear people talk excitedly about things they are interested in. Also, you shouldn’t be afraid of bragging about what you are doing. There’s amazing stuff going on but I don’t think people get the credit they deserve. I’d like our community to get excited with each other, and with me so I can make sure that Sheffield Digital knows about and amplifies your achievements.

What are you most looking forward to in your new role as Community Manager?

There’s so much going on that I’m interested in and know about, but there’s a bunch of other events and meet-ups I’ve heard of but know nothing about. So, I can’t wait to get more involved in all of this. The enthusiasm of everyone is contagious and there’s so many cool things to learn and get involved with. I really like the idea of helping a community to grow and become more cohesive – it’s going to be a fun challenge.

How can our members find out more about you, and where can they find you?

You’ll see me at events, including the Spring Showcase and I’ll be mooching around the main Sheffield Digital Slack Channels. I’m also planning on being somewhere visible and accessible during a set time on one or two days a week, so members can find me and share their ideas, ask for advice and contacts, or I can just be a sounding board. You can find out more about me on my LinkedIn profile and you can chat to me on Slack or drop me an email: sophie@sheffield.digital.

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