Employee networks are a huge part of why Virgin Media O2 can have such dynamic conversations and create real change in the company. From spaces where we talk about race, to our LGBT and Neurodiverse networks to name a few, we’re making sure our employees feel like they have the space, tools and opportunity to bring their whole selves to work.
Here to share their journey with us is Mustafa Tekman. Mustafa is an Insight Manager within Network Expansion Strategy & Transformation. In this blog, he shares his journey from Cyprus to the UK and why joining a company that embraces him is so important.
Where it all started…
Born and raised in the capital of Cyprus called Nicosia, English wasn’t my first language but I grew up watching a lot of English-language TV when I was younger. Having an aunt who is an English teacher also helped me to learn English at a young age; I knew it was something I wanted to achieve. All of this, along with attending an English college and university (I graduated from the University of Exeter in 2017) helped with my career journey. I eventually ended up at Liberty Global on a graduate scheme in the Netherlands — where I lived for two years.
For my last rotation on the graduate scheme, I moved to London to join the Network Strategy team within the Virgin Media O2 CTO function. I then got a full-time role within Network Expansion in September 2020. I’ve been with Virgin Media O2 and Network Expansion since then.
Why our employee networks matter
Feeling like you belong at a company isn’t always easy, but it is something that is important. When I joined Virgin Media O2 in 2020, I was impressed to see the amount of effort being put into all the employee networks and the belonging/DE&I strategy. Being a member of the LGBT community and from a different background and culture, the networks meant a lot to me. I feel like I can bring my whole self to work and it’s a great feeling to know I have my manager’s full support.
The employee networks we have are such valuable assets as they help so many people feel accepted. They also create a safe space where we can voice concerns. They’re making a change in our lives ensuring it’s not just a “checkbox exercise”. It’s also great to witness the networks evolve over the past two years and the launch of Ally Up sessions – sessions that help give us tools and help us understand how s to be better allies to our colleagues, friends and family.
How to make the most of an employee network
There are so many ways in which Virgin Media O2 allows us to communicate about real-life issues and events affecting us. Our internal communications portal is one great example of how we can all communicate easily. I also love the virtual sessions we have with outside subject matter experts who talk about everything from mental health to financial health.
A few months ago, we held in-person workshops with guest speakers and even Gok Wan shared his experience as a gay Asian man living in the UK. These are the real stories that make a huge difference. It helps us to realise the journeys people are on and most importantly, how we can do our bit to make their lives better.
We might still have a long way to go to make each person feel like they fully belong, but I feel like we’ve been taking meaningful steps and the momentum is only growing. We’re all doing our best to make sure we leave the company stronger than we came and I’m proud to be part of that.