Welcome back to How I Made It, Metro.co.uk’s weekly career journey series.

This week we’re speaking with Marvyn Harrison, a 38-year-old based in east London, who set up Dope Black Dads.

The company now has other Dope Black off-shoots, all designed to be supportive and celebratory spaces for community to thrive.

Marvyn says: ‘It’s a social change agency providing insights, creative, content, production and audio for clients and the community arm is designed to solve problems each community identifies in the wider world.’

He works for BELOVD too, who help companies improve their culture and procedures.

Dope Black has its own podcast and a book, also by Marvyn, that examines the experience of Black fatherhood.

Always looking to work authentically and from experience, here’s how Marvyn made it happen.

Hey Marvyn. How long have you run Dope Black Dads and why did you set it up?

I have been running DBD since Fathers Day 2018 and it was never designed to be more than a WhatsApp group to complain and share fatherhood challenges – but it has since become a platform to promote powerful, positive and funny examples of the amazing Black father which are around the world.

We love to bring fathers together where possible but ultimately it is a digital companion for Black fathers.

How hard was it to set the company up? What did you have to do to make it all happen?

The hardest part is understanding what your gift is as a business leader and bringing people in to support you with the rest.

Many leaders are fish climbing trees and the lack of quality talent or investment can stifle their growth.

I am lucky to have a group of 12 people who really understand what we are about and what we want to achieve.

I have been running services or businesses since I was 13 and I may know more now about a wide range of businesses and industries – but it can come at great cost to yourself so I always advise to find specialists or partner who can help, even if it is part time.

What were you doing before?

I was an advertising strategist until 2020 for a large advertising network and I loved working there solving problems.

The career switch was mainly because I wanted to increase the joy in my work and to do that I needed flexibility to do more and be free in my interpretation of data and insights in how I saw the world as a working class, Black man from London who was a parent.

Now more companies can get supported and it feels better to be open to anyone who needs it.

How did you expand beyond dads, to include mums and other groups?

The other community leaders and founders have been amazing in taking what I started and making it their own and now they all own and operate their community as they see fit and its heart warming to see the legacy continue in their image.

For me it is a gift that I could offer at the time and I was privileged to be able to do that.

What impact do you have on your community?

This is a blind spot of mine as I know what I am doing and how I believe it should be done, I know people’s experience, opportunities and outcomes improve when I am involved in something, so I am sure that is something which will come to light when I am no longer here.

For now I want to be a beacon of what is possible as a man, father and Black person in the UK and make people feel better about what it is there are doing and what they are experiencing.

I know you work a four-day working week – how do you find that?

This is an important belief of mine to allow my team to balance their gift and mission with real life and looking after themselves and spending time with people they love.

I want that for them and myself and I have seen first hand how life improves as a result.

I think responsible capitalism is something we need to all connect to in a greater way and provide actual sustainable ways to exist on this planet which is a gift to us all.

An average day in the working life of Marvyn Harrison

5am: Marvyn rises early and begins admin while helping get his kids ready for school.

9am: He keeps an hour free to adjust into the working day.

Marvyn works through lunch hours (Picture: Dope Black)

10am: Now begins the hard part of the day, where he’ll be in client meetings, accessible to the leadership team, and working alongside others.

3pm: He takes a late lunch and decompresses before attending to any final bits.

5pm: The workday is over.

What do you love most about your job?

I love that I am my job and that there is no difference between me, my work and what I believe.

I understand that I am fallible and imperfect and so I build that into to everything I do.

I want people to be comfortable with their imperfections as long as they are doing the work to get better and as long as they are not harming people especially the most vulnerable.

I also get to spend a lot of time with some of the best people in the world, the industry of changemakers is full of brave, powerful, honest people and so I get to live amongst them every day pushing for greater things.

What do you like the least?

It’s difficult work emotionally and mentally to always be inside such difficult experiences and challenges.

It can be especially difficult which big events occur in the macro like George Floyd, COVID-19, Sarah Everard or when trans rights are being mocked or repealed because they have real human impact on the people around you.

It is hard for me to experience but it is much worse for those who live those lives first hand so I keep going.

How I Made It

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Black History Month

October marks Black History Month, which reflects on the achievements, cultures and contributions of Black people in the UK and across the globe, as well as educating others about the diverse history of those from African and Caribbean descent.

For more information about the events and celebrations that are taking place this year, visit the official Black History Month website.

October is Black History Month (Picture: Metro.co.uk)

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