Right, let’s get started… Introduce yourself!
“I’m Katie Buckingham, I’m 28 and I’m the founder of Altruist Enterprises.”
“Altruist Enterprises provides resilience, stress management and mental health awareness training to organisations, businesses, and schools nationally, but with a particular focus on the West Midlands.”
Can you explain a bit more in depth about your role?
“Since founding Altruist Enterprises, I have adopted many roles within the organisation. The role I most enjoy is product development – by this I mean developing new training courses around mental health. This also involves speaking to our customers and audience and conducting market research so that our programmes address the most prominent issues faced by people today.”
“As this is my business, I also have some responsibility in operations, sales, HR and recruitment. Essentially, my job is to ensure that our training is delivered effectively and that we have the right people on board to help manage and grow Altruist Enterprises.”
“But overall, my role is to raise awareness around mental health across multiple settings and be a champion for following a vocational education path.”
What are the origins of Altruist Enterprises?
“The idea for Altruist Enterprises came to me around the age of 17 after experiencing problems with anxiety from a young age. This was at a time when mental health wasn’t really spoken about so for awhile, I didn’t even realise that this was what I was experiencing and didn’t speak about what I was feeling as I was worried about what people would think of me.”
“After developing my own coping mechanisms whilst on waiting lists for professional support, and eventually getting the support I needed at 16, I realised how long this was to wait for help and came to the conclusion that without the stigma around mental health, I might have received help much sooner.”
“With this in mind, I applied and secured some funding to run some mental health workshops in schools and produced a resource for teachers to increase awareness around mental health so this could be brought into the classroom.”
“After that, I finished my A-Levels and wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do next. I didn’t want to follow the traditional path of going to university, but I knew I wanted to focus more on project management, business, and mental health awareness.”
“So, I joined the Peter Jones’ Enterprise Academy and developed a business – which didn’t work out but I learnt so much from regardless. The vocational focus and practical mindset confirmed that I wanted to set up my own business around mental health, and this led to the creation of Altruist Enterprises – and here we are eight years later.”
What advice do you have for young people who are at the beginning of their careers?
“It’s easier said than done, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself. We are often told to follow a traditional route of going to school, then to college, then to university, then to work – but you don’t have to do that.
“It’s completely fine to take a break, try new things and figure out what you really want to do, and do this in your own time. You don’t need to accomplish everything between the ages of 11 and 25! So, don’t be afraid of failure – as failing and trying again is something I have done a lot over the years, and has helped me get to where I am now.””
Which skills do you think are most important in the workplace?
“From my experience of running a business, I have looked at so many CVs over the years and personally, I don’t really look at their education history. What I look for is their work experience and voluntary work, and the skills they have gained as a result.”
“When looking to hire someone, I focus on the transferable skills gained through their work experience and how people have put themselves out there in order to further develop themselves. This proactive attitude, determination and willingness to get out of their comfort zone is something I definitely look for.”
“Of course, these opportunities aren’t always easy to find, especially for young people, and that’s why organisations such as Digital Innovators – who bridge the gap between young people and employers – are so helpful.”
How much does having digital skills play a part in your job? How has having digital skills enabled you to get to where you are now?
“Having digital capabilities has always been important in the workplace but has become essential as a result of the pandemic. Before COVID-19, the majority of our courses were delivered in person and have since been mainly delivered online.
Therefore, our staff need to have digital skills in order to properly manage the delivery of our training. Coincidentally, this has improved the accessibility of our courses as they have become more flexible for people to attend and has actually led to an increase in uptake of our courses.”
Thank you, Katie, for taking the time to talk to us and share your story – I’m sure it is one that many young people will be able to relate to and feel inspired by!
To find out more about Katie’s work, you can visit Altruist Enterprises website here.
Now, you’ve heard Katie’s story. Where could your idea take you?
Have an idea you’d like to explore? Start now! You don’t know where it could take you.
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