Take control of your life again: A chat with Stay Nimble's Founder

Ella Burt

Ella Burt

10 min read
Dominic Atkinson Stay Nimble

Society expects adults to have already figured out what we want to do with our lives and to be well on our path to doing it or to have already been succeeding at doing it.

And, in comparison to people in their early youth, there’s very little affordable career support to help those who are unhappy in their careers, who are looking for their true purpose in the work that they do, who want to achieve specific career goals, or who face personal challenges that make it difficult to find work that’s right for them.

Meanwhile, there’s a 47% chance that, if you’re working, you’ve considered quitting in the past 3 months. These considerations are often accompanied by feelings of self-failure, unhappiness, and uncertainty. Oftentimes, people can feel too scared to admit their unhappiness and to make a change from the security of their current role. They feel stuck.

If any of these feelings resonate with you, know that you are not alone! Stay Nimble’s Founder, Dominic Atkinson, is on a mission to help and empower people - just like you - to understand their purpose, skills, values, and strengths to achieve their goals.

His social enterprise offers a web app that features personalised programmes, run by qualified career coaches, to help people understand their values, skills, and strengths to help them tackle career challenges with confidence and find their purpose in life.

I sat down with Dominic one sunny Friday afternoon to find out all about how Stay Nimble supports thousands of people to navigate their careers.

Thanks for joining us, Dominic! We’d love to know – what was your inspiration for starting your social enterprise, Stay Nimble?

Dominic: “I began to think about Stay Nimble back in 2016 and how we could create a solution to help people discover more about themselves and how they fit into the changing world around them. Work is intrinsic to our identities and tightly tied to many aspects of well-being, so as our jobs change, we have to figure out how to adapt or we can become really unhappy. There aren’t many scalable and affordable solutions for this.

So, our mission is to answer the question: What would the world be like if we helped everyone to be happier in the work they do?

And the reality is that the world of work is changing, and more quickly than ever before. For example, years ago, I worked in a supermarket, where you'd have to type the prices into the till, but now technology has taken over even the checkouts in stores. I came to understand how technology was transforming the nature of people's work and, in turn, creating the need for people to complete different tasks within the workplace.

“In the UK, only 17% of us love our jobs, while over 4 million people experience in-work poverty. We’re told that work is supposed to pay, but this isn’t always the case either financially or emotionally.

On the other side of the spectrum, there's an ever-growing number of job vacancies that aren't being filled, which those experiencing career challenges may not ever have the opportunity to find due to lack of exposure. People aren't able to search for job roles if they've never heard of them before and, therefore, don't know they'd be well-suited to new occupations. The reality is that many skills are transferrable between jobs and careers and people are in a much better position to accomplish their goals and find happiness in their job than they realize. They just need the support.”

What do you think is behind many people’s lack of exposure to many in-demand careers?

D: “Firstly, in-real-life social networks: some people have shallow social networks that run wide, therefore gaining them exposure to lots of different conversations that will help them navigate their way through the working world.

“However, others' social networks run more narrow yet deeper and may offer less exposure to new possibilities.

“The second reason is simply time. Outside of work, family, and other commitments there's very little time to sit and figure out: 'Could I be doing something different with my life?' and consider different pathways.

”One of the problems we face in society is as people get older, there becomes a decreased level of support in helping people figure out what they want to do with their lives. Because they're adults they're expected to know what they want to do and just get on with it, which often leads to a situation where people feel as though they're failing if they don't know, and therefore become scared to admit they're struggling.

So, how does Stay Nimble support people who are struggling to make their career work for them?

D: The Stay Nimble experience is personalised to the member and so we support people in whatever way they need support. Whether that’s entering the workforce for the first time, re-entering after a leave, changing careers, advancing in a current role, nailing an interview, creating or updating a resume, navigating workplace dynamics, finding work that is right for them and their circumstances, trying to align their life purpose with the work they do and how they spend their time, and any goal in between.

“We partner with Emsi Burning Glass, a job data analytics platform that offers real-time data of the in-demand roles and skills found across job advertisements in the UK, and use their data as a building block in helping people navigate their direction.

“Using this data, we map out skills that are in demand across different areas of the UK; this data is live and so changes regularly depending on the different advertisements. This helps us at Stay Nimble understand what skills are desirable for different roles, in different areas of the UK, and help us make recommendations based on a person’s strengths and transferable skills.

“But the real value comes from the tech that connects a member to their own dedicated career coach.

“We realised that although making recommendations and providing information was useful, being able to speak to qualified career coaches would massively improve the overall outcomes of our members and what they intend on doing with their lives.

“With a coach, members dive into their current situation and start to understand what their goals are in their journey. Together you'll map out your strengths, skills, and values, to create a plan that's tailored to a members' personal needs and interests.

“After being matched with a coach, our members then choose the career-building programme that best suits their needs, where they'll work alongside their coach to build their confidence and skills to achieve their career goals.

Who is Stay Nimble for?

“Stay Nimble is for anyone who's struggling with a work-related challenge. So far, we’ve supported over 12,000 people in the UK to navigate career transitions, redundancy, promotions, address work-life balance, and find jobs that are meaningful to them. Our work lives are complex, with many different challenges that come up. Having a qualified friend in your corner can make all the difference for taking positive steps forward, faster.

How do you measure the impact of your courses?

“We measure outcomes in three ways:

1. Employment outcomes: this isn’t only about jobs. It’s also about learning new skills, or starting your own business. It’s also about volunteering. These are all relevant destinations that we are helping thousands of people to reach.

2. Well-being outcomes: include people's level of confidence, and feeling in control of their life. Both have a significant value to society.

3. Financial outcomes: feeling free of debt, or feeling like you're able to save money, for example.

What do your programmes look like?

D: “All of our programmes are personalised to the member. Each programme includes a range of activities that are designed to help the member discover more about themselves and essentially use this information to navigate the direction the member wants to head.

“Thrive, one of the progammes offered by Knoma, consists of 12 parts, and each part is made up of six to seven activities. members can complete the programmes at their own pace, as we know that life is complex and self-paced personal development is the way forward.

Could you explain how Thrive’s programme is structured?

Our programmes all start with several activities that are designed to help you reflect on your current situation and think about the goals you may be considering. Often this is not just about your work-life, but a deeper understanding of yourself. This section is in three parts and is called “Discover” where you are paired with your coach who will help you to start reflecting on your Strengths, Skills, and Values.

This first section acts as a compass, helping you to work through the activities in the next section called “Reflect and Decide” where you will explore options to help you achieve your goals. This might be a career change, but it may also be just a change in an employer who shares your values.

We then help you to put this all into action in the final section called “Personal Brand and Preparation” where your coach will support you in implementing your insights for things like your social media profiles, CV writing and interview preparation. Even if your goal is an internal promotion or move, all of these practical steps will help you to give yourself the best chance of success.

The programme gives you free lifetime access to our platform, so when things change in the future, you’ll still have access to all the resources we curate for you, plus be able to chat with your coach at one of the most affordable rates in the UK.

Any final words?

D: “We started Stay Nimble with this idea of ‘reinventing yourself’, but realised this can be very confronting. We now focus on the idea of ‘finding your fit in a world that’s changing’ which is much more representative of Stay Nimble’s vision in helping people find their right direction, as opposed to encouraging the reinvention narrative which is stressful and exhausting. Adaptation doesn’t equal reinvention.

We truly believe that the world would be a better place if everyone was content in the work that they do.

Kick start your life again with Stay Nimble and Knoma

Are you facing struggles in your career? Or are you maybe facing personal barriers that are stopping you from getting where you want in life? Using Knoma’s pay later solution, you can access Stay Nimble’s personalised programmes to help you get back on your feet and in a direction where you can utilise your strengths, and spread the cost over up to 12 months.

View Stay Nimble’s course programmes here

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