After graduating from college with a degree in film production and international studies, Lena Shareef started working at a non-profit relief agency. Her first project? Helping developing countries prepare against pandemics.
Nearly a decade later, Lena is currently working from home like many others, due to the ongoing global pandemic. Luckily, much of her job simply requires a laptop and internet connection. Lena is a Senior Producer for Audience Development at National Geographic Partners, where she’s worked for nearly four years. Lena manages several different social media accounts and curates various social activations with talent. She also develops promotional strategies and campaigns for National Geographic’s content.
Before joining National Geographic, Lena worked for public relations agencies developing digital strategies for both non-profit and corporate clients.
1. You co-created National Geographic’s first Facebook group, called Women of Impact. Now with over 70,000 members, the group spotlights women who are breaking barriers and changing their communities around the world. What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned from the members of the group?
Before co-creating the group, I had no idea how much both women and men were craving for a space like this. From the beginning, we saw women submitting posts where they shared very personal stories about themselves, and I was surprised to see how quickly the members were opening up to each other. And that helped to set the tone that we want this group to be a supportive and collaborative environment for everyone.
2. You manage National Geographic’s Reddit account, which includes coordinating interviewees for Reddit’s Ask Me Anything (AMA) series. If you were to host an AMA, what would the topic be?
This is such an interesting question! I think if I had to host a “professional” AMA, it would probably be about navigating the world of social/digital media and what life is like as a social media manager. But if I were to host an AMA where I get to geek out about things, I would probably want it to be about the representation of women of color in media—whether it’s movies, TV shows, or comic books—because I can talk all day about stuff like that.
3. As a social media producer, the question must be asked: If you were stuck on a desert island and only had access to one social media platform, which would you choose?
I would actually choose Reddit! I love that it’s a platform focused on subject areas and communities. Having followers on Reddit is not the main goal at all and you get to learn about the world through such interesting and substantive posts/questions from users. But it’s also hilarious at the same time! In the past, Reddit was sometimes criticized for being male dominated, but I know a lot has been done to change that and I’ve seen a difference.
4. Growing up, you moved around frequently with your family. If you were to go back as an adult and live in one of the places you previously called home, where would it be?
This is always such a tough question because every city I’ve lived in has a very special place in my heart. And, actually, I don’t think I would want to go back and live in any of those places again. I’d rather move to a new place and explore that city/town instead.
But one place that definitely had one of the biggest impacts on my life was Kiev, Ukraine. My family and I moved there when I was about 7 years old and it was where I saw snow for the first time! I also went to an international school in Kiev, so I met tons of kids who were from all over the world. It was a significant point in my life to be interacting with so many people who came from different countries and cultures. Those interactions really shaped who I am today.
5. After working from home for the past year due to the pandemic, what has been the silver lining for you?
On many days the silver lining can be difficult to find! But I do think the opportunity to slow down and reflect has been really crucial for me. It’s also given me the chance to do a better job of connecting more intentionally with friends and spending more time with family.
As cliché as this might sound, the pandemic has put into focus what’s really important to me, including not just those I care about, but also my own health and personal goals.