We spoke to Miriam Delagou about her work as a social activist in Bristol. Miriam is the Managing Director of a social enterprise called Bearpit Bristol CIC, who are leading a project called The Circle – where she is the Transformation Lead.
Provide a brief overview of the path that took you to this job – including education, training, internships, any positions that were particularly significant; any shifts in direction.
The road that got me here is one that has been full of twists and turns. I grew up in Kuala Lumpur, and went to a Bristish International School. Community outreach was a vital part of our education and spent many afternoons volunteering in orphanages and local villages. I began with a double degree in Mass Communication and Psychology at 16. I volunteered with many NGOs as unfortunately inequality is stark and fierce in such a developing country and the injustice of it all was something that always struck me.
Half way through my degree I went through a really challenging period of my life and the course was quite overwhelming. I decided to migrate back to Italy. I was really fascinated with the power of psychology over design and communication and decided to pursue design with this new found knowledge. I had always wondered what kind of world we’d live in if we could communicate social causes the same way we invest in selling brands and lifestyles. My foundation course lead me to do a degree in Art Direction specialising in Branding and Concept development. Eventually from Turin to Barcelona, I ended up in Bristol. After my 3rd unpaid internship designing pub menus and bus ads I knew this wasn’t the life I wanted. I took on job making coffee as in my younger years I became a barista and life eventually lead me to the Bearpit and the rest they say is history.
Were you always interested in sustainability/rights issues and did you always aspire to work in this sector?
Yes and no. From a young age I had this notion that if you were able you should do your best to try make a difference in the world. That has always struck with me.
To what extent has your path been directed and driven by you; and to what extent has chance and being open to opportunities played its part?
I would say it’s 50/50. I think there are times in life you have to take risks and create your own opportunities, and sometimes paths take you to unexpected places. In hindsight life always makes much more sense but I think the trick is simply to be ready. Be open and know what it is you want to achieve.
What are 3 – 4 words that describe your approach to your career (ambitious, creative, passive, open etc)?
Driven, daring, humble, open
Name a skill you consider critical to your work, that you continue to work on and develop
Give an example of a job/training/experience you have had that may have felt irrelevant at the time; or may have been perceived as a mistake; but that you have learned from and benefited from
I think I’ve been very lucky to always have done things I have been able to learn from. I was once an au pair in Rome, and even looking after 2 children taught me the art of patience and compromise. I think it’s up to you as individual to find the positivity and learnings from any experience.
What advice would you give your teenage self, in relation to approaching your career
Believe in yourself. It took me so long to understand that. To understand the power of my voice. To embrace who you are and to really just follow your dreams.
What are your top tips to achieving the career you want?
Always have constant hunger to learn, be flexible but also don’t compromise on your beliefs. That’s the hardest challenge. And even on your hardest day, remember to be kind.
Miriam Delago is speaking at our Catalyst Bootcamp on 1st August. @BearpitSocial