Beam’s Head of Communications caught up with Gasconi Lingomba, an Operations Executive at Beam, who is using his lived experience of social disadvantage to support others.
Hey Gasconi! How would your fellow Beamers describe you in three words?
Loud, funny and charismatic.
How would you describe your role at Beam in two sentences?
My role as an Operations Executive is a bit like the film Hitch, except instead of helping people find a companion I help people find the job they love.
What led you to Beam?
I grew up in a pretty deprived area, and didn’t have any good role models as a kid. There was a lot of crime and drug dealing was a common route for a lot of people - that often felt like the only option. Because of this, I got involved with the wrong people and ended up spending time in prison and became homeless.
Since leaving prison, I’ve worked for and volunteered for various organisations supporting homeless people and ex-offenders into housing. I love that Beam is supporting people into jobs, as this feels like a great way to help people get back on their feet and regain their independence. And I love even more that I can be part of the solution.
How has your own personal experience of overcoming adversity helped with your job?
Having lived experience of homelessness and social disadvantage means I have a true understanding of what our beneficiaries are going through. This allows me to engage with them in a really personal way, as there’s a sense of common ground.
I also like to think I motivate them, as I’ve been in their position and managed to rebuild my life. I tell them the sky’s the limit, as long as you’ve got that determination. That’s what allows me to push and motivate them a bit more. I didn’t have any role models growing up, so this is my chance to be a testimony for others that it can be done and it’s possible.
Can you remember the point you wanted to turn your life around?
I remember waking up one morning in prison and realising I’d been dreaming about life in prison, rather than the outside world. By this point, I already had a son and I knew I couldn’t continue down the same path anymore. My son really motivated me to turn things around, and little by little my mindset started shifting. I started to think about how I could improve and upskill myself and eventually get into work.
It wasn’t an easy journey and it took some time. Going to university wasn’t really an option for me as I had a young family to provide for. Instead, I focused on working and building transferable skills to get me to where I am today.
You mentioned you’re a dad. How does that help you relate to the people Beam supports?
A lot of the people we support at Beam are single parents, so I know the challenges they’re facing. I understand how hard it is to run a household, do school runs, make sure the kids are fed, and everything in between. It can be a lot to manage! Being a dad allows me to be more understanding and flexible as I know exactly what they’re going through.
Tell me about a story of working at Beam that really moved you
Each time I support someone into work it’s an amazing feeling. One person who springs to mind is a guy called Donald who is now working at Dishoom. When he got the job, I saw just how appreciative he was of the support I was giving him. The joy on his face was priceless. He keeps in touch with me all the time and it’s nice to hear all his updates, and see how Beam has completely changed his life.
What do you love most about working at Beam?
I’ve never worked anywhere with such a great culture! This may sound corny, but you can never be sad at Beam, as there are so many amazing people who will lift you up. Everyone is so supportive and you never feel alone. And whenever there’s an issue or problem, everyone tackles it together as a team. I also love the fact that no matter what level you are, everyone’s door is always open.
What would you say to someone thinking about joining Beam? If you’re energetic and passionate about using groundbreaking tech to create real social impact, then Beam is the place for you!