James Sharp 
Career background
I have a decade’s experience working within in-house marketing and communications across both the private and public sectors. My specialism is in digital marcoms and ensuring that the audiences I am communicating with have fantastic digital experiences. I currently work for the five Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across Mid and South Essex leading on digital communications and engagement.  

How long have you been a volunteer?
I have been volunteering with the CIPR now for nine months, working with the East Anglia Committee as their digital lead.  
What made you want to volunteer with us and how did you get involved?
I had been thinking about getting more involved with the CIPR for some time – however I think like most volunteers do when they start off, I wasn’t sure what it would involve and if I would be able to manage the commitment against my day job, so I was a little hesitant to begin with.  

For me, I saw becoming involved as a great opportunity to develop my skills and experience outside of my day job, learn more about my profession and connect with other likeminded communication professionals. I also have a huge passion in education and supporting the next generation of communicators, which for me aligned with the priorities of the CIPR East Anglia committee. So, it was a great fit! 

What kind of work do you do on the committee?  
A pretty mixed bag really. My main role within the committee is to lead on social media and to ensure we have a good mix of content going out on social media – some of this is content created locally and some is using materials supplied to us by the fabulous team at HQ.  
I have also had the opportunity to write content for our newsletters, organise and host learning webinars for our members and support the team with organising our annual conference – which went virtual for the first time this year.  What I like about the committee is the openness, if someone has an idea or a project they want to explore, you have the freedom to do that and others will support where they can.  

What's been the best thing about volunteering so far?
Any particular highlight or achievement you're most proud of? Did you volunteer through the pandemic and how was that? As cheesy as it sounds, the best thing by far has been the people I have me. The East Anglia committee are a great bunch of people and has been really great learning about everyone’s experience and having a group of professional people outside of work who you can chat to or run an idea past.  
My proudest moment to date would have to be being involved in putting together our Bitesize Conference during a pandemic. It hasn’t been easy and was a huge team effort to pull off, but we ended up with a great series of webinars and line up of speakers who have all donated their time and expertise to support the members in our region and beyond.  
Why is volunteering important?
Volunteering is important as it gives you an opportunity to get involved and learn more about your profession. It allows you to have your say, represent your peers and really make a difference from within. 

What would you say to another member thinking of volunteering?
If you are thinking about volunteering – I would say go for it. I was hesitant at first but I am so glad I took the plunge to get involved. I have only been volunteering for nine months but it has already opened up so many opportunities that I probably wouldn’t have had in my day job, which in turn have made me a better and more confident communicator.