FROM CHARITY WORK TO PORTFOLIO CAREER

“I’m at a loss for words for just how big an impact it's had.”

FROM CHARITY WORK TO PORTFOLIO CAREER

Alex Brooks was burning out in her charity sector job, but needed help to find a new way forward. The Launch Pad boosted her confidence to make some major changes and embrace a wide range of new roles.

What was your work situation before the Launch Pad?

I was working as an Operations Manager at a learning disability charity in Oxford, promoting the rights of adults who have learning disability, at local and national levels.

How were you feeling about your work?

I was burning out at a rate that I could not quite work out.

I was really unwell.

Why did you decide to join the Launch Pad?

I didn’t have a way of being able to uncouple from what I was doing, and I needed a way through that.

What had you tried previously to do to make progress on your career change?

I moved to New Zealand for a while… I tend to do things quite big!

And I’d moved to work in various other charities as well, which were lovely, but I always had this edge. 

I’d kind of fallen into the charity space and didn’t know quite how to get out of it.

What were your reservations or skepticism about the Launch Pad?

I suppose my scepticism was about whether or not I was too far gone, because of the negative narrative that I’d developed about myself.

I wondered if I was even good enough to be on the course.

What was the experience like?

It was an absolutely amazing experience. I loved it – it was pivotal.

I realised quite early on that, actually, everyone was experiencing the same reservations – and whether you were working in the charity sector or in hedge fund management it didn’t really matter.

So all those negative narratives dropped really quickly when we started talking about who we were, what we were about. I realised I was part of a community of people seeking change.

What were the highlights?

There were so many. 

It’s the relational aspect I remember most of all. In one of the exercises, a conversation with someone I had really stuck in my head. It was lovely – I’ve still got the notes from that call.

And there was really strong imagery in the course that stuck with me. 

There was a really good energy about the activities – they were great – but it was what we did with them that I remember most.

What were the toughest moments?

One of the hardest moments was going through all my ideas, things I was excited by, and trying to connect the dots between them.

I’d put in so many ideas that I completely overwhelmed myself.

That was my personal challenge, really, to realise that I was excited by a lot of things. I was trying to find just one thing, but retrospectively I now see that it was OK to have all of these amazing ideas at once.

How did the Launch Pad help you get clear on and move into your new career?

The Launch Pad was the catalyst that changed so much of what’s happened in the last few years.

It was the confidence boost that I needed to do a lot of the big changes I’ve done.

And it’s taught me that career change isn’t a singular action – it’s a series of actions, and once you know how to do it, you may not do it just once.

What on the course led to that impact?

The activities on the course encouraged me to get bigger and go outside of myself, and embrace the idea that I couldn’t do this stuff on my own.

I had to step outside of myself and be bold about what I wanted. And it was also about recognising that what I wanted might not actually be what I wanted – that it’s not just about saying the words, but about trying it on, too.

The thing that made the most impact was that idea  – to try something out, try it on. If it doesn’t work, oh well, you haven’t lost anything. So it wasn’t really just one activity on the course – it was just having the permission to try.

Where are you now in your career?

Right now, I do a mix of things. 

I’m a live-in nanny for a boy who’s 16six and has autism and Down’s syndrome. I’m an associate with the National Development Team for Inclusion. I’m also a director of a company, the Human Restoration Project, working with local authorities in the Cotswolds in some socioeconomically challenged areas.

And in some volunteer capacities I work with the Association of Collaborative Design – I’m looking at membership and network development – and I’ve just started supporting a friend on her book, which she’s translating and bringing to the UK. Oh, and I’m actively involved now in the education working group with the Permaculture Association.

Another factor is that quite recently I was diagnosed with ADHD. This was more surprising to me than it was to a lot of my friends! Realising this has unlocked a lot of things – especially that sense that leaving one career and starting another doesn’t have to be A to B.

How do you feel about your work?

It’s great, I love it. 

The fundamental aspect of my work is: how do you create spaces where people can and want to be? Spaces that people are restored by, and supported by, and that can look like different things?

The job titles aren’t the important part – it’s the fact that all of the pieces feel good, and can move together.

What’s been the impact of your shift on your wider life?

I’ve stopped seeing a differentiation between my professional life and my personal life.

There’s me, and sometimes I get paid for the things I do, and sometimes I don’t!

It’s given me a new way. What I learned in the course absolutely created the change and the permission to be completely present to who I was, in all aspects of my life. 

I’m at a loss for words for just how big an impact it’s had.

What would you recommend to anyone considering the Launch Pad?

The first thing I’d say is: you only get one shot at life – why spend it being unhappy? 

And the second thing is: if you’re considering the course, you’ve clearly got a question that you’re trying to answer. And if you aren’t able to come up with the answer on your own, why not give this a go?

Remember, your job will be advertised in the paper quicker than your obituary. Everybody’s replaceable at work. So if you’re not happy in your job, that’s OK – you can be replaced.

Anything else you’d like to add?

The course isn’t about having the answer.

It’s about having the tools to be able to continuously seek the right questions to ask yourself. The answers are going to shift.

I want to round people up and just drive them across to do the course. And I want university students to do it too – just as they’re coming out of university.

It’s the antidote of the unhappy workforce, of waiting for better to happen – it says, ‘get on with it’.

You can find full details about the course on our dedicated Launch Pad page.