December 22, 2020 I SWIM I by Natalie Morrison

Just Keep Swimming

If you told me on January 1, 2020, that the world would turn upside down in three months and we were going to be living in a global pandemic through the end of the year and beyond, I would not have believed you. And yet, COVID-19 paralyzed countries all over the world, and various industries had to re-think how to do business. In-person events, conferences, theater and congregating with friends and family came to a complete standstill.

As a young woman in the industry just starting her career, I feel as if I have an obligation to use my platform for other women.

Because of how COVID-19 upended our world, I knew then that I wanted to involve myself in a project that could bring conversations to life virtually. We certainly would not be sitting in a room networking and learning together anytime soon. Professional development opportunities are crucial as a way to meet and learn from colleagues across our industries. Just because the pandemic paused our everyday lives did not mean learning and mentorship had to stop as well.

The result? SWIM Masters (smartwomeninmusic.org/swimmasters), a podcast dedicated to helping connect, grow and support women in the music products space, was born. I texted Stephanie Lamond, a dear friend and project manager at the San Francisco Chapter of The Recording Academy, about wanting to start a podcast, but not really knowing what the focus would be. But within thirty minutes, I’d developed an idea and pitched it to the leaders of SWIM. The pitch was a simple email with a strategic yet barebones idea in which I volunteered myself to develop everything. Within an hour of sending the email, I got a resounding yes.

To be completely honest, I was entering a world I wasn’t entirely familiar with, and that’s OK! I was ready to learn and determined and motivated to make this a reality. I was fortunate enough to surround myself with a team of women who believed in this project and volunteered their time to bring this to life.

Keeping these opportunities and conversations alive during such an unprecedented time in our society was fuel for me. I wanted this to be accessible to anyone interested, whether they’ve worked in the industry for many years or they’re just starting out, trying to get their foot in the door.

Now, almost six months since the launch, this podcast is ultimately a safe space for women; a place where they can learn first-hand about their colleagues, their career journeys and what they hope to see for our industry’s future. But it’s also a place to celebrate our allies. Whether male, female or nonbinary, we want to welcome you into our community. This podcast is a chance to put a spotlight on their incredible accomplishments and to serve as an inspiration to others.

As a young woman in the industry just starting her career, I feel as if I have an obligation to use my platform for other women and help create the changes needed to open doors to become leaders and have our voices heard and respected. It’s an honor to use my voice to support, inspire and promote women’s leadership in the industry we all love so much.

But it doesn’t stop there. In October, SWIM launched a six-month-long coaching group hosted on Zoom for the inaugural class of SWIM Summit attendees as a way of continuing professional development. The coaching also provides a place to leverage and deepen personal and professional relationships.

SWIM has completely changed its model to adapt to our new reality. It is the organization’s mission to help foster mentorship and growth for women all across our industry. Just because the world is at a standstill during this pandemic doesn’t mean that everything we’ve been working on has to stop. All it takes is creativity and a positive mindset to push our voices forward. We just have to keep swimming… together. MI

Natalie Morrison is a public relations strategist at D’Addario.

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