Getting to know you: Tara Askham

Tara Askham

What do you currently do?

I am the director of finance and business development at Infused Learning, a not-for-profit social enterprise providing distance learning courses to people who would otherwise struggle to access education, whether that’s due to family, work commitments, or whatever else it may be. I set it up with my colleague Natalie Sharpe in 2014 and since then we have been lucky enough to receive several awards which have really helped us with funding. I’m also an experienced further education lecturer, assessor and International Quality Assurer with a background of writing and moderating exam material for some of the biggest accounting bodies in the world. At Infused Learning we like to think we change lives through fast tracking people to university courses, empowering business owners to grow their most valuable assets: their people. We love watching businesses thrive and grow.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

I and Natalie Sharpe, my co director, have between us nearly 30 years of experience in the teaching profession. After delivering traditional educational pathways to people for many years we both felt there must be a better way to give training to those who cannot access mainstream education. It struck us as terribly unfair that some people were not able to make progress in their lives because of barriers that differing circumstances placed in their way. Education should be for all, not just the privileged. Also we feel passionately that everyone is different and so we wanted to come up with something that would create tailored educational solutions and not just a “one size fits all” course in whatever subject it might be. We wanted to make learning for individuals and businesses as individual as them. To sum up, we believe all business and individuals are unique and we wanted to reflect this in our business model.

What defines your way of doing business?

The main thing about our business is that we are a not-for-profit organisation. Ethics is central to our core business process: as a social enterprise that thrives on people and our planet, all the profits we make are reinvested back into the company, so we can continue to make it work for future generations of learners.

Who do you admire?

Many people, but the one I would pick is probably Oprah Winfrey. I admire her because for me, she embodies true resilience. No matter how many barriers she has faced, she has carried on.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

Of course, with the benefit of hindsight, there are things one would do differently – although I also believe it is important to stand by the decisions you make in life. But when I look back I think I would have liked to have had more courage in starting our business when we first thought of it. Put simply, we should have bitten the bullet and set up Infused Learning sooner!

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

For me, it is very important to keep moving in life. It is that continually evolving pathway of learning that is core to our practices at our business as well. So, if I was talking to someone who was setting out on their new business journey, I would say this: “Always remember that your present situation is not your final destination, the best is yet to come.”