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12 March 2024

S10 - E3: Trying to belong in the world of comms: Overcoming cultural barriers and bias – Sonia Squires

Sonia Squires is Head of Internal Communications at Citizen Housing. Sonia started her career working in higher education institutions, the University of Manchester and the University of Huddersfield where she worked with under-represented groups, supporting and encouraging young people to achieve their ambition. She then found her calling with internal communications, working for the NHS, AQA and most recently in social housing.

A mum of two young girls (3 and 5), Sonia spends her weekends exploring new places/ parks and singing lots of Disney and Bollywood songs on repeat. Vegan for nearly 10 years, Sonia loves visiting vegan markets and trying out new cakes and chocolates.

Podcast overview

Growing up, Sonia thought that she wanted to be a lawyer. At the age of 18 this all changed. In this episode, Sonia opens up about the some of the challenges and pressures she’s faced growing up in an Indian/Asian community and how she’s worked through these to break into the world of comms. She shares some personal experiences of bias and how she’s worked hard, and how she feels she must continue to prove herself to progress her career as a woman of colour. In this episode be prepared to go on a true, personal journey of having to grow up very quickly and overcoming hurdles of bias.  .

Podcast questions

  • Did you always know you wanted to get into comms?
  • Did you start your career in a comms role?
  • You talk a lot about doing courses, was that a juggle?
  • Tell us about your first IC focused role
  • Highs and challenges of IC roles you’ve held
Transcript

Asif Choudry (00:01.314)
Hello and welcome to a new episode of the You’r emy commsHERO are a podcast and I’m your host Asif Choudry. Today my guest is Sonia Squires, who is the head of internal communications at Citizen Housing. So Sonia started her career working in higher education institutions, the University of Manchester and the University of Huddersfield, where she worked with underrepresented groups supporting and encouraging young people to achieve their ambition. She then found her calling with internal communications, working for the NHS, AQA,

most recently in social housing. Sonia’s passion is in supporting leaders with their communication so that they develop a greater connection with their teams. And this stems from her MBA dissertation, which focused on the importance of leadership and employee engagement and the significant impact it has every day. So as a mom of two young girls, age three and five, Sonia spends her weekends exploring new places and parks and singing lots of Disney and Bollywood songs on repeat. We’ll have to ask you a bit more.

about that. And being a vegan for nearly 10 years, Sonia loves visiting vegan markets and trying out new cakes and chocolates. And so from a footballing perspective, here we go, might be some boos and hisses here, we don’t know, but Sonia is a huge Derby County fan and has a season ticket for the Rams cheering them on through good times and bad more bad I would have said latterly Sonia. Yeah.

Sonia Squires (01:14.561)
Hehehe

Sonia Squires (01:25.002)
Yeah, there’s been some bad times.

Asif Choudry (01:28.578)
and any other spare moments she gets, she enjoys doing yoga or watching a gripping series on Netflix. So Sonia, thank you so much for joining us and it’s a pleasure to welcome you on the podcast.

Sonia Squires (01:39.373)
Thank you, it’s great to be here.

Asif Choudry (01:42.29)
Okay, so let’s give the listeners a few bits of information about you. So tell us Sonja, are you an early riser or do you love a lion?

Sonia Squires (01:52.537)
I do love a lion, but since I’ve had my children, I can’t ever get a lion. So I mean, to be honest, I don’t really get any sleep. I have night shifts where I have to get with my little one. So it’s early, but would love a lion. Maybe in years to come, I’ll get that again.

Asif Choudry (01:54.904)
Ha ha.

Asif Choudry (02:09.79)
life of a com zero parent hey that’s what it is. So ebook or a printed book?

Sonia Squires (02:11.926)
Hehehe

Sonia Squires (02:16.961)
Printed. I like holding a book. An actual book, yeah. Yeah.

Asif Choudry (02:19.914)
Yeah, there is something about that. Yeah, a lot of people say that now. I think it’s come back, because we spend so much time on screens for work, that departure from there and that tangible physical book, the smell of a book. And I mean, I work in print, so it’s amazing to, I’ve always attached to that. And audio books are still good as well. A lot of my commute I enjoy, but I don’t think you concentrate as much as when you’re focused on an actual printed book. So I mentioned earlier your…

Sonia Squires (02:26.162)
Exactly, yes.

Sonia Squires (02:31.203)
Yeah.

Sonia Squires (02:36.013)
certainly.

Duh.

Sonia Squires (02:44.182)
Yeah.

Asif Choudry (02:49.427)
you enjoy watching a gripping series on Netflix. So what’s your recommendations for our listeners for a Netflix binge?

Sonia Squires (02:57.405)
I think the best one I’ve watched was when it was Covid and it got me through it was Money Heist and I think because of you, it’s in Spanish so it’s all subtitled, it makes you actually be present and watch it whereas you know you could be sat on your phone but that just makes, oh it’s gripping. So it’s a few years old now but that to me if you’ve not seen it definitely watch Money Heist. Yeah.

Asif Choudry (03:04.45)
Yeah.

Asif Choudry (03:11.074)
Hehehe

Asif Choudry (03:22.538)
Money Heist, there you go, there’s your recommendation. There’s your recommendation. So we’re gonna, thanks for sharing that. And it’s been good to find out a little bit more about you. And if there are any other fellow Derby County fans, then when you’re listening to this, yeah, please get in touch, please get in touch. There’s more than one. So, you know, let’s get into what we’re gonna cover now. So growing up, Sonia thought that she wanted to be a lawyer. And at the age of 18, this all changed. So in this episode,

Sonia Squires (03:35.757)
Please get in touch. Yeah.

Asif Choudry (03:52.49)
Sonia is going to share with us and open up about some of the challenges and pressures that she faced growing up in an Indian Asian community and how she’s worked through these to break into the world of communications and just share some personal experience of bias and how she’s worked hard and how she feels she must continue to prove herself to progress her career as a woman of color and in this episode be prepared to go on a true personal journey of having to grow up very quickly and overcoming

hurdles of bias. So genuinely Sonia, I’ve got to thank you for, you know, putting yourself forward for this and being open and transparent with your journey, because there’s a lot of stuff that people will either relate to and also be inspired by. So let’s kick off with the first question. So did you always know you wanted to get into communications?

Sonia Squires (04:38.917)
Absolutely not. So growing up, I think, as you described, for me there was a lot of pressure to get into a role such as being a lawyer, a pharmacist, doctor, and that’s very much from an Indian culture that is the goal really. And my mum very much wanted me to go into that. And I think I really tried growing up thinking, right,

I’ve got to fit into this. So I went and did work experience at the solicitors and thought, right, okay. I mean, you know, I was doing sort of office admin things for them, but I was thinking, right, you know, this is what I’ve got to do almost. And it just didn’t really feel right. So, I mean, growing up, I think I was trying to sort of please my family

there was, I think, there was some pressure, particularly, my mum worked a lot, so she literally worked throughout the day, and she would work doing night shifts as well, because, you know, just to keep the roof over our heads. So there was a lot of challenges financially, so I think I felt that pressure, that I wanted a better life for my mum and for my family, and all you hear is lawyers earn lots of money, so that was like, okay, this is what I need to do.

to support my family as well. And my dad, he was depressed quite a lot, so he wasn’t really around. And I think I spent a lot of time trying to fix that as well and fix my dad, but also fix the financial situation. So when I was young, I think it was about 12 actually, it was the first time I thought, right, I need to go and earn some money. So probably wouldn’t happen in these times.

you know, you’re not old enough to be working, but I went and did some stuff where my mum was working in the care home and got a bit of cash in hand. And just thought, right, okay, this will help my mum not having to work as much. But so I think it was about, I guess, particularly the financial aspect of needing to do that, but the status that came with those sorts of careers. But for me, I mean, I went to a really low performing school.

Asif Choudry (06:39.192)
Yeah.

Sonia Squires (07:02.069)
So there was lots of challenges with that as well. And it was a very, the area that I grew up in, and particularly sort of in that school, me and my brother, for example, were, you know, one of like a handful of non-white people. So, so we stood out in that school and it was challenging. We had to deal with a lot of racism like that. That to me, and particularly for my brother as well, you know, it was a daily occurrence. So there’s all this sort of pressure

I guess from a young age, feeling like you’re a step behind as well because of, you know, coming down to becoming, because of the colour of your skin. So you know, that was an added challenge and an added hurdle that I think I was experiencing when I was younger as well. So for me, all of that, I wanted to improve my life chances, but also…

really help support my family to have a better life as well. So I guess yeah, lots of pressure within that but I guess the turning point for me was when I was looking at, I was in sixth form and people started talking about university and I didn’t have anyone who in my family had been to university so but I knew I saw that as an opportunity to help me.

improve my life chances. So, you know, I was looking into law because I thought that’s what I needed to do. But I remember it was my English language teacher who said to me, you know, you might pick something that you really enjoy. And, you know, I knew nothing about law really, but I loved English language at A level. I loved learning about how we acquire that language, how we learn to speak. It was fascinating for me. So for me,

I love this so if I go and do that at university I’m gonna enjoy it so it was quite a big shift and something that I had to brace myself to go and talk to my mum about and I think it was stay with me I’ll always remember the day when I went home and you know my mum thought I was gonna go and be a lawyer and go and do law at university but I went home and

Sonia Squires (09:25.11)
I had to tell her that I wanted to do English language at university. And I know for some people that might not sound like a very big deal, but for me I was carrying a lot of that pressure to get into those careers and also to improve the life chances and I had no idea what I was going to do with an English language degree. So I had to pick my timings and it was really tricky because my mum said she worked a lot.

I literally didn’t see her that much as well. She’d be in and then out again doing sleepovers where she worked. And remember there was one evening I thought, I’ve got to tell her. So I just said to mom, mom I’ve decided that I want to do English language at university. And her face, the look on her face, I can still picture it where she was just, she looked so disappointed.

but also really confused and you know she was like, what are you gonna do with an English language degree? And I couldn’t answer that question because I had no idea what I was gonna do with it. And I feel like as I’ve grown up, I understand it a bit more from her perspective. You know, there wasn’t a lot of positives. It was very challenging growing up, particularly, you know, my mom was working a lot and I think she saw that.

potentially there would be some positive there with me where she could tell her family that her daughter was doing law and her daughter was gonna is gonna be you know is a lawyer um but it so I can see how that had an impact particularly as I didn’t have a clue what I was going to do with it and you know neither did my mum so I absolutely understand some of that now um

Asif Choudry (10:55.779)
Yeah.

Sonia Squires (11:12.565)
But yeah, I think it was very sort of challenging. I think growing up now, I’ve realized how much I’ve carried some of that pressure with me.

Asif Choudry (11:20.266)
Right, yeah. Yeah, so you didn’t always know that you wanted to get into comms then. Did you start your career in a comms role?

Sonia Squires (11:32.649)
I didn’t. So when I left university, so I went to the University of Manchester and was really fortunate to get a role working at the university which I absolutely loved. So that was very much about working with underrepresented groups. So young people who felt that they couldn’t go to university because families had never been, felt that they couldn’t afford it and for me, I think to be honest it’s probably the most rewarding role that I’ve had because

I could relate to those people and I could see the direct impact that I could have on those people’s lives, being able to help them see that they could go and them seeing me as somebody who’s been in their situation, who’s walked in their shoes. And that was a really great opportunity. I worked with some amazing leaders and if I think about leaders who’ve inspired me, it was in that role as well.

thought okay if I think about how I want to be as a leader I always go back to the leaders I experienced at the University of Manchester so very grateful for that. I did do a bit of internal comms there so I supported with a newsletter, an internal newsletter but at the time had no idea about the IC profession. That was a fixed term role, really wanted to stay there but you know had to sort of secure my future and went and worked for the University of Huddersfield.

doing similar things, so working with young people, delivering presentations across the country. And then I got lots of development opportunities which I’ll forever be grateful for. So did my marketing diploma there, and that’s where it sort of opened my eyes to marketing as well. And then also got a really good opportunity where I put forward that I wanted to do an MBA and have the opportunity to do that as well. So…

But it was really interesting when I was at the University of Manchester, I’ll always remember it, that there was somebody who didn’t get my role that I got, they created another role. And that person said to me, obviously you got the role because you had an advantage. And I remember at the time, you know, first being puzzled, like what was my advantage?

Sonia Squires (13:50.185)
And she was referring to the fact that I’m not white. And I remember thinking, oh my gosh, is that why they’ve employed me? And I went and sort of stewed on it for a bit. I just thought, gosh, I don’t want it to be about the fact that I am Asian, and that’s why I’ve got the job. You know, I wanna be here on the fact that I can do it and that that’s what they’ve seen. And I went and had a conversation with my line manager about it, who dealt with it brilliantly and really sort of reassured me that of course I was there.

because I deserved it to be in that role. But I think that really showed to me as well, the other side, how people view it. And it sort of was taking away from the fact that I got the role based on what I demonstrated. But that person saw it as an advantage, whereas actually, for me, it is a hurdle and it continues to be a hurdle, which I’m sure we’ll go into as well.

Asif Choudry (14:45.054)
Yeah, that’s a really interesting perspective there, that too, from the other side, because that two very different viewpoints on why somebody would want to get a role. And certainly from as a marketer and as a professional, you want your skills to be recognized and the experience that you’ve built up over the years. And that’s primarily why you’re going for the next opportunity. So you mentioned within…

Sonia Squires (14:51.388)
Mmm.

Sonia Squires (15:02.625)
Mm, absolutely.

Asif Choudry (15:12.822)
within that introduction to your career there, Sonia, then that you did some courses. And so tell us, you know, it’s always hard. I’ve had people on the guests on the podcast before talking about study after the life of studying. So when it’s actually in full-time work. So, and they’ve often talked about it being a juggle. So was that the same for you?

Sonia Squires (15:34.113)
Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Doing my MBA was probably one of the toughest things that I’ve done. You know, as you said, working full time and it’s a very full on course. And I think for me, looking back now, I don’t think I really recognise my own experience. I think I was going from one course to the next to the next, because for me it was about how do I, how do I get myself on that level playing field?

because I felt like I was already a step behind. And I think a lot of that is, you know, from growing up feeling like that within school and the community that I was in, feeling like I was behind, you know. A lot of it is very deep rooted to sort of school as well, because I remember, you know, being, it was doing a drama performance and…

somebody, you know, I feel like I’ve got quite a good level of self-awareness and I thought, right, I’ve done a good job here and I remember my friends getting really great praise from the teacher and I didn’t get that. And for me, it’s like those moments in your life can build up and I think I’ve recognised that I’ve tried to compensate for all of that really.

by doing more study, getting more qualifications, and I could keep going, you know, adding more and more to my CV, and absolutely, you know, I’m a very big believer in the power of education. But also I think I’ve had to, I’ve used that almost to try and get myself to the same place to get over those hurdles as well. And I think, I think as well, a big bit has been not seeing people like me in senior roles. I mean, there was a conference that was at recently

there was just a scandalous stat really, that people would think it was particularly in housing, that at exact level, 3% of those are from a black and 1% are Asian, which for me is just unreal in the society that we live in. So, and I’ve seen it, I go to conferences now and it’s strange, I feel more aware of it now than I’ve ever been, looking around and I’m like…

Asif Choudry (17:40.841)
Yeah.

Sonia Squires (17:52.033)
I’m not seeing lots of people like me. And I think that’s been a challenge not having those sort of role models. I mean, there absolutely are some out there now. And you know, that’s really great to see, but I think it’s always felt very far away and doing those courses have felt like, okay, this is something that will help me progress. And I guess that links to me wanting to do more and sort of prove myself as well. So I think…

the bias bit, you know, as I said, mentioning school, but also sort of experience that. I have experienced that within my crew as well. I probably wasn’t, I probably wasn’t as aware of it at the time, but reflecting back on it, I remember, you know, there’s been times where I’ve seen lots of other people get those development opportunities. When I’ve been in myself, I feel like, okay, I’m doing a great job here. And then it just, when you see that,

and again I’m not seeing anyone like me get those opportunities, it just has that negative impact and it shouldn’t and I would encourage people for this not to happen but it’s part of it I think where I’ve then questioned myself, am I good enough? Perhaps they don’t see that in me as well so and you don’t want to jump to the fact that

all other people are getting that and potentially, you know, is this, is this a bias? I don’t like to jump to that, but I think I have really recognized that there absolutely have been times where there has been that bias and, but I think it’s trying to work through and I’m not there yet, you know, trying to work through how you can maintain that self belief within yourself. And I think, you know, there’s been points in my life and it has been knocked. And I don’t think I’m there yet. You know, I don’t feel like I’ve

I’m fully like, yes, you know, none of these things are going to knock me because they do have an impact. And I think we’ve just got a role together to think how can we, how can we change that as well? So that’s something I’m really, really passionate about.

Asif Choudry (20:01.382)
Yeah, and I suppose with our comms marketing PR profession, CPD is a big part of that. And there’s always stuff to learn. There’s so much learning opportunities outside of the formal groups as well, you know, with all the, especially with digital channels now, there’s so many blog posts and new bits of software or just new ways of working and the whole.

Sonia Squires (20:08.896)
Yeah.

Sonia Squires (20:15.781)
Hmm

Mmm.

Yes.

Sonia Squires (20:27.496)
Mm-hmm.

Asif Choudry (20:28.874)
landscape has changed within our profession as well. So there’s all that stuff to accommodate for within your learning and the fact CPD, whether you’re CIPR, CIM or IOIC, PRCA, and whichever membership body you’re attached to, there’s that CPD requirement within there. So it’s a constant thing within our profession as well. So tell us, you’re now in the head of communications.

Sonia Squires (20:31.827)
Hmm

Sonia Squires (20:37.845)
Yep.

Asif Choudry (20:53.322)
internal communications at Citizen Housing. So you’re an IC professional by trade now, very much out and out. So tell us about your first IC focused role and how that there was obviously a switch into that side of the profession.

Sonia Squires (21:04.817)
Yes, yes there was and I’m so grateful for that switch because I yeah I do absolutely love it so for me after when I was at the University of Huddersfield I was what tends to happen and university colleagues you’re probably listening you’ll probably relate to this is that you can get quite stuck in working for a university and I think they’re great places to work at but you tend to move around to other universities you know I’ve moved from one to another.

And for me, I just, I wanted to go and do something different. And so I went and got a role working in the NHS. So again, very sort of that social purpose to me is really important. And that was an opportunity where I did both internal and external comms. And it really, it was the internal comms that, that lit me up, you know, being able to, well, I was able to have lots of autonomy and freedom. So I’m really grateful for that and got an opportunity to introduce an internal comms strategy.

new channels and there was a newsletter that we’d introduced as well that I’d introduced that people were looking out for, you know, it’s something that they hadn’t had before but the big shift was people being able to connect to one another and being able to connect to leaders. I think for me being able to see that impact that I could have because ultimately that has a huge impact on how you feel at work and it’s…

You know, we of course will never replace the role of a leader, but we are so fundamental in IC to supporting leaders, to get that, you know, that human connection. So did that for a couple of years and thought, yes, absolutely, IC is what I want to focus on. And I missed education. I absolutely love education and wanted to be back in that environment. So then went and worked for AQA, the awarding organization, where I spent a number of years working there. And I was working as a comms business partner.

and which was a really great opportunity for me. I’d led on change communications, which is something that, you know, I think is so important around how that’s delivered and had a great opportunity there to work with some great leaders, to support them with how much they involved in it engaged colleagues as well. I then had a baby, went on maternity leave, which…

Sonia Squires (23:24.469)
which was actually after the first time, it was fine coming back to work. A lot of my stakeholders were very much the same. I felt like in some ways I’d slept and was back doing what I was doing, so that was good. And then Covid came, which actually, you know, I know a lot of IC professionals will say, it was actually a brilliant opportunity for us to show our value.

that to me and I really stepped into that space to work with the exec team around how they could really inform, keep people informed of the changes and I mean within education it was changing all the time, you know, no exams, oh might have exams, this and that, you know, it was very fast paced but there was such brilliant feedback from colleagues how engaged they felt. So for me that’s probably one of the most rewarding times working in

Sonia Squires (24:21.361)
I then had to go on maternity leave with my second and I remember that felt very different. I felt like I was flying in what I was doing. I felt like I was really ready to sort of progress as well. So, I mean, you know, sorry to my second daughter who might hear this in years to come, but I was a bit like, oh gosh, I don’t know if I’m ready to go on maternity leave. I want to progress my career, but, you know, of course it shouldn’t have an impact. But.

I felt like I’d worked really hard to get to where I was and I didn’t want anything to impact that. And I remember somebody saying to me, through the great mind, they’d heard that I was pregnant. And of course, people didn’t know I was pregnant because they could just see my face at that time because we were all working at home. So it was, suddenly, if you didn’t know, I was just then going off maternity leave. But somebody said, I’m surprised, I’m just having another baby. I thought she was really ambitious.

And this was from somebody, you know, a female as well. I mean, it shouldn’t come from anyone, but for me that just shows how much work we have got to do because yes, I am ambitious. You know, I want to progress my career, but also that doesn’t mean that I can’t have a family. So I think that was sort of playing in my mind as well, that, you know, the society pressures that of course there are those biases there as well. So.

went on maternity leave, came back and actually, you know, was progressed into a new role. So all of the concerns that I’d had, um, needn’t have been there. And I then led the internal comms business partnering team and was able to, to really sort of develop as that leader, which has taken me to, to where I am today as the head of internal comms. So yeah, very glad that I sort of took moves into, into IC. Um, cause yeah, it’s absolutely something that I’m really passionate about.

Asif Choudry (26:15.498)
Amazing and then to kind of wrap up these questions and Sonja tell us you’ve mentioned some of them already but the highs and the lows are the challenges of the IC roles that you’ve held.

Sonia Squires (26:26.705)
Yeah, so I guess in terms of some of the highs, I think I’ve mentioned some of them, but really being able to have an impact on how people feel. So I think I mentioned that the change comes and working with leaders during COVID. For me, it is working closely with particular leaders as well.

supporting them with their communication style. I mean, there’s some that really come into my mind, some leaders who I remember, you know, I’ll sit in on say presentations, watching their delivery. And I remember feeding back to one of the leaders and saying, he’s not coming from the heart. And, you know, it was tough feedback to hear for that leader because they’ve not had anybody really be open and honest with them before.

But my intention is always to get the best for that person because ultimately, you know, in IC, you’ll always be in the background, really, you know, and which is absolutely where we should be. But I remember just being able to coach and support that leader so that actually when they, you know, and it didn’t just happen overnight, you know, this takes time, they were able to connect with people. You know, it was coming, you could see it was coming from the heart.

which was really key in leading on that particular change as well. I think for me, really, I guess that high is as well around the cultural change that we can have a huge impact on in IC, which, you know, it’s not just about the channels. That is, you know, that’s a big part of it about, you know, how we get, how we get comms out. But for me, it’s genuinely looking at how, where are we now in terms of sort of our culture and our levels of engagement?

And the MIM and IC, we can play a huge part, and that’s some of the highs that I’ve had around, okay, let’s do that analysis of where we are now, but how comms and engagement can really support to get there. So that’s something that I’ve focused on quite a bit. I think talked about, I guess, personal challenges, some of the low times has been that mat lead, but I think one of the, I guess, some of the lows as well has really been when

Sonia Squires (28:44.605)
I’ve doubted myself because of not getting that recognition from other people when I’ve seen that recognition given to others where I felt that if I look at where I was and where other people have been, it hasn’t been clear to me why I haven’t had some of those opportunities. So, I guess that comes down to the impact that has on the mental load, feeling that

to do so much more to prove yourself and that’s something as I said before you know I’m really trying to work on because really trying to you know dig into around what you know my self my own self-belief but it is it is tricky you know because it’s there’s not always those opportunities out there and there are you know the bias still is there and I think there’s no getting away from that you know we see that within the conferences that we go to or the you know where we see

more in those leadership spaces, we’re not seeing always, you know, that diversity that we absolutely need to see. So I think that is an ongoing challenge and an ongoing, I guess, focus for me, particularly around what can I control and influence. But, you know, I hope that people, I’m sure there’s lots of people who can relate to that as well. And I think for me, I’m

I want to open those discussions. It’s something I’ve not really ever spoken about before, as if I’m really grateful that you’ve given me the opportunity to open up about that. Because I think if we can start talking more about it and having people who can relate to it as well, because to be honest, in my circle, I don’t have that many people who perhaps can relate. There are some core people who absolutely can. But I think the more that we can talk about it, the more that we can just support each other as well.

Asif Choudry (30:38.378)
No, that’s been great. And you’ve been very open and honest, as we said in the intro, that you wanted to be with this. And I’m delighted that Comsera has been, you know, we’ve got the opportunity to give you that platform to do that. So there will be people who will be inspired by the story and maybe it’ll change somebody’s direction or it’ll make them continue going in the direction because they might have been questioning themselves with imposter syndrome and what have you. So I’m sure there will be lots of, and when you’re listening to this, you know, please

Sonia Squires (30:50.689)
Thank you.

Sonia Squires (30:59.237)
Mmm.

Sonia Squires (31:03.274)
Yeah.

Asif Choudry (31:07.522)
Drop in comments and what have you as well and give us some feedback and you’ll get a chance to find out, we want you to connect with Sonia as well. So we’ll share the details later on in the podcast. So we’re here because of the comms hero community. So why is comms hero important to you then Sonia and would you recommend people working in comms and marketing to be part of it?

Sonia Squires (31:29.325)
I guess for me, it’s really having people, again, that you can relate to, who’ve got the same experiences as you. So, I mean, I went to the Comms Hero Conference in Manchester last year, and just being able to hear that people have the same challenges as you. You know, you can be on your own team, and you can have some frustrations, challenges. But, you know, when you come to Comms Hero as well, you hear that is something that is shared and it is lived.

But again, it’s that being able to connect with other people and learning from each other as well. And I think, you know, it’s done in such a great way as if around, you know, the comms here that it just feels so accessible. You know, there are a lot of things which, you know, there’s lots of other networks as well, but I think you’ve done a great job in making it accessible to people. And I think that that’s key particularly.

with the financial restrictions that everybody is experiencing right now as well. So I would absolutely recommend it. I recommend coming along to the conference this year, whenever that will be, just to meet other people and to build that network for yourself as well with people who really do understand it and are actually great to be around as well. So yeah, I would absolutely recommend that to other comms and marketing professionals.

Asif Choudry (32:45.714)
Excellent. That’s really nice of you to say, Sonia, and thank you for that. And I suppose it’s a good time now as well where we’re recruiting our 2024 comms here ambassadors and you’ve agreed to be one of those as well. So that is literally hot off the press news. So, you know, it’s great to great to have you on board. So you’re going to see more from Sonia in the comms here or community. And that means you’ll be judging the awards this year as well. So we’ll look forward to that as it happens. So Sonia, it’s been a great interview. And I know that

Sonia Squires (32:48.476)
Welcome.

Sonia Squires (32:57.322)
I have. It is, yeah, very excited.

Asif Choudry (33:15.29)
Here comes our listeners are going to enjoy it. So I mentioned before about connection. You talked about connection as well. So where can the listeners, where can they find you?

Sonia Squires (33:21.107)
Yep.

Sonia Squires (33:24.701)
Merely on LinkedIn, so yeah, please do connect with me. So on LinkedIn, I am Sonia Johal Squires. I’m resurrecting, Johal is now my middle name. It was my maiden name. And yeah, so Sonia Johal Squires on LinkedIn. So yeah, please do connect with me.

Asif Choudry (33:40.974)
highly recommend that as well. So you’ll find this podcast on Spotify, Apple, or your chosen platform, and also on our website, commsera.com. You can follow us on Twitter or X if you’re calling it that. I’m still calling it Twitter. And if you do, so that’s at commsera. If you do listen on Apple or Spotify, please leave a rating and review and hit the follow and subscribe button so you get first the new episodes that we aim to put out every fortnight. So that’s what we’ll aim for in this new season.

Sonia Squires (33:52.065)
Hehehe.

Asif Choudry (34:08.79)
So Sonia, thanks so much. It’s been an absolute pleasure and we look forward to seeing more from you as an ambassador throughout this year.

Sonia Squires (34:15.969)
Brilliant, thank you so much, Azif.

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