In our latest edition of #CoffeewithContext, we chat with Account Manager, Tacita Berriman, who has been with Context for over five years. Previously she worked as a Press Officer at the Faculty of Business and Law, Manchester Metropolitan University. She also has experience working in language schools in China and Egypt.
Tacita graduated in 2012 with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Classical History and Ancient Greek and Latin from the University of Leeds. She’s mother to two kids, who take up most of her time, but she likes to travel abroad (or at least make plans), read novels or hit the yoga studio when she can.
How does it feel after getting back to office after maternity leave?
Oh, it’s great. Just to be doing something different is so refreshing. I obviously love being at home with my kids, but it’s nice talking to people over the age of two. Being on maternity leave in the pandemic was quite isolating for me because normally people have baby groups and lots of fun events and activities for you to do with the baby. And there was none of that. It was just me at home by myself with a newborn, which was quite a lot. I am glad the world has opened up and we’re out.
What’s your greatest personal achievement to date?
I’d say that a personal achievement would probably be getting my master’s degree. I was at Leeds and the classics department was quite small, so I was able to do a bit of teaching, and undergraduate seminars. It was quite challenging as I was working full time at the same time doing temp jobs. So, it took quite a lot of focus to get my head down and get it finished. It’s a lot of hours and a lot of commitment. But I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m really glad I did it.
What have you been binge-watching/reading/listening to recently?
I’ve been reading The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman and he’s just written a sequel, which is called The Man Who Died Twice. It’s like Agatha Christie but written by Richard Osman, the broadcaster and comedian. Very clever man.
I just watched Russian Doll on Netflix. It’s really good, and very, very strange.
Who would you say is your biggest inspiration?
I would say probably one of my biggest inspirations was my Greek and Latin teacher at university. His name was Ken Belcher, and he was my personal tutor.
I think about him whenever I feel like something’s really challenging, or I’m feeling grumpy and I don’t want to do it. He was always just so capable and cheerful. I think he was a really big influence on me during my time at uni.
How do you maintain a good work-life balance?
At the moment, I don’t really have a choice about my work-life balance. I’ve got the two kids at home. At the end of the day at work, I have to just switch off and close things because I go home and it’s their bedtime. It is brilliant because it’s led to me being very focused at work.
When I look back now to four or five years ago, I used to think I was busy, but I had so much free time. Now I get to a couple of yoga classes a week, but I have to fight for them to make space in my schedule.
What advice would you offer to someone considering a career in PR?
The main piece of advice would be just to get started. If you want to move into PR, I’d say, start talking to agencies and get some work experience where you’re actually doing the job and just don’t be nervous about it. You don’t necessarily need to do a qualification or loads of training or anything like that.
You just need to have a bit of faith in yourself because that is what PR is. It is content writing and it’s organisation, but primarily it’s communicating and talking to people. And if you’re strong in those areas, you will be good at PR.
What lessons have you learnt from the pandemic?
I’d say the key lesson learnt would be about valuing time. I live in Macclesfield and my family are in the Cotswolds, so they’re not that far, but with the lockdowns and restrictions they might as well have been in Australia because we couldn’t see them. Now I’m so happy that we can visit them again and I’m trying to see them as much as possible and make the most of it!
What’s your go-to mantra in life?
I think it’s just staying positive. ‘Keep smiling!’, it’s something my dad says every time at the end of a phone call. And I think that’s something that he’s instilled in me as well. I’m incredibly lucky to have had so many brilliant opportunities and I try to remember that and stay positive when the little things are getting me down.
We asked Tacita a bunch of rapid-fire questions, answers to which she later explained –
Favourite artist – Jeff Buckley – Grace is appropriate in any situation
Favourite film – I don’t know about an all-time favourite, but I watched Midsommar recently which I thought was really good!
Favourite time of the year – Spring – Coming out of winter, the colours and the Cherry Blossom trees, the daffodils, everything getting warmer; It’s just so hopeful.
Favourite cuisine – Italian – I love pasta, pizza, and cheese. My husband proposed to me in Rome, we had a lovely time and some great food there.
Favourite destination – Greece – My dad loves Ancient History and I have some lovely memories of sailing in Greece, where he would take us around all the different islands and tell us the myths that were associated with each of them.