Merlin Mee (he/they) is a Learning Content Creator – he joined the company through acquisition. Alongside his main role, Merlin also acts as a Diversity & Belonging Champion – supporting colleagues across the business to embrace and celebrate the things that make them unique.
What does your morning look like before you start work?
My morning can vary really. It usually starts with the high pitched tones of my two cats, Queso and Gomez, who start meowing, hitting bags for life, and jumping across the bed in order to wake us up. When I'm working from home I pop on my trackies and Oodie to protect me from the elements in this rented house, and stick on a podcast about ghosts/the supernatural/true crime as I make my first brew of the day.
What’s something you’ve learned from your teammates at Access?
I’ve learnt a lot from my pals and colleagues at Access, but one life lesson I value is that communication is key. No one worker should be an island – in order to be the absolute best you can be it’s not the greatest idea to ‘gatekeep’ ideas or resources. Sharing shortcuts, content and approaches will always be a good thing, and the content that comes out on the other side is bound to be of a higher overall quality with collaborative work.
You are helping organise this year’s Pride celebrations at Access – with a focus on Allyship. Why do you think it’s important we celebrate Pride at work?
I’m so buzzing to be sharing resources, learning opportunities and celebration with everyone at Access this June. As much as progress has been made, there seems to have been a resurgence in hate, humiliation and invalidation of LGBTQIA+ people, even some from those with powerfully large platforms. Trans people are being demonised, support for young LGBT+ people is being taken away, there are even talks to amend pre-existing legislation that protects and sees LGBTQIA+people. It’s because of this that it’s absolutely vital we celebrate Pride at work, to show our colleagues that we see them, value them, and want to listen. Access is already making massive steps to increase representation and visibility, with Diversity & Belonging champions being a point of contact for suggestions, discussions, and ways forward year round. I’m proud to work for a company that not only allows me but encourages me to be proud.
What is the last album/artist you listened to?
The latest artist I (re)listened to was musical comedian Bo Burnham's and his most recent album INSIDE. These are an album of songs which featured in his hour long Netflix special of the same name. A special created entirely by him over lockdown where he struggles with isolation, depression, and turning 30.
What was your dream job when you were a child?
My dreams job as a child was either, a performing clown, or, in my own words, 'Peter Kay'.
Who's your role model and why?
My role model is Alok Menon, an American author, performance artist and public speaker surrounding trans rights. Their speeches encapsulate everything wrong with the treatment of trans and gender non-conforming people in such a poetic and beautiful way. I aspire to have their fluency, confidence, intelligence and calmness regarding the vitriol that trans people have to endure. Their sense of style is also quirky, loud and unapologetic, and I love that!
What do you do on days you feel unmotivated?
Have a word with myself, make a brew, stroke my cats, and push through it. I maybe also have a cheeky listen to some Fatboy Slim and dance around the house.
What’s your favourite memory working with Access?
My favourite memory from working with Access is when I hosted a Halloween quiz for my team/the content collective via Microsoft Teams. Our design teams put their hand to creating video cards introducing each round, as well as my own opening theme and video. I ran 5 rounds, all whilst dressed up in a homemade Oogie Boogie costume in our Newcastle office, mask on and all. The headache was worth it!
What has been your biggest challenge in the last year?
The biggest challenge I've faced in the past year is coming to terms with my own ability and taking on a new set of responsibilities that I didn't have a lot of experience in. I've always held myself to a very high standard, and felt that to be good at my job means being an instant expert at anything I put my hand to. This is of course impossible, and no-one can jump into a new role and be the go-to person in that field. It takes practice, upskilling, and well, mistakes to grown into the role. My new role has been just this, and I am still working through that challenge and that low self-esteem and slowly becoming less hard on myself.
What were your hobbies when you were younger? Do you still do them now?
When I was younger my central hobby was filmmaking. I used to make music videos, vlogs, artistic pieces, spoken words, and silly little parodies and post them to YouTube. These were all done on my laptop webcam. For Christmas one year my mam got me a Flipcam and my skills continued to develop. One time I even came runner up in the 'Global Geek Week' YouTube competition making a video all about what made me a geek!
I was a full time freelance creative for some years after University where I completed a Masters in Film in 2019, creating a documentary for my masters dissertation and being admitted into 3 film festivals. One thing I'd love to do is reintroduce filmmaking back into my life, and make something just for the fun of it like I used to.
What’s the last book you read? What did you think of it?
The last book I read was Bob Mortimer's autobiography. I started reading it after I saw him live in Newcastle talking about his first novel The Satsuma Complex. His book felt like a big warm hug and gave you a lovely, unique insight into Bob Mortimer's strange little world. I felt nostalgia for a life I didn't even experience.
What skills have you had to work hard to develop? How did you do that?
I’ve had to develop my project management, problem solving, independence and ultimately my technical and logistical knowledge of audio production. This was something I’d dipped my toe into, but I didn’t have the know-how. So, I’ve worked hard to seek out expert opinions, complete online learning, and ultimately learn as I go.
How do The Access Values (Love Work. Love Life. Be You) show up in your life at Access?
These values seem to sit alongside how I try and approach my life inside and outside of work every single day. ‘Be You’ juts out the most here, as I don’t think I’ve been in a workplace more welcoming and encouraging. I first started the job in my team as I was beginning my transition, so early on in fact that I was having worries of ‘which name’ to have on my contract! Since then, and since our joining with Access, I feel like I’ve had the opportunity to be myself authentically and to embrace myself authentically too.
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self about work?
At 21, which was 7 years ago, I was sitting on a bank account over its overdraft limit, had a master’s degree in a subject I was passionate about, but had zero solid work opportunities in sight. Quite frankly, I felt scared. I had a very solid idea of what I wanted to do, but the work just wasn’t there. Little did I know that 7 years down the line I’d be cultivating a new career path in Content, working for a globally recognised company, and having the opportunity to learn and upskill day to day. The advice I’d give myself is to keep on grafting, keep on following that work that you’ve never done before, because it might just lead to an exciting career.