Ketan Dattani, CEO and Founding Owner of Buckingham Futures
Ketan Dattani is the CEO and Founding Owner of Buckingham Futures a specialist award-winning Environmental Health consultancy that provides bespoke permanent and temporary talent acquisition and consultancy solutions to public and private sector employers.
For those who don't know anything about you or your work, can you provide a bit of background?
After completing a Master's degree in Environmental Planning and Management in 1998, I faced many barriers to finding a role within the environmental sector and so began my career in recruitment.
I set up Buckingham Futures, a specialist Consultancy supplying Environmental Health personnel across the private and public sectors on a nationwide basis as I identified an opportunity to aid Environmental Health professionals to fill the gap in the employment sector caused by significant challenges to the global economy caused population growth, increasing demand for natural resources, soaring costs of energy and escalating impacts of climate change.
Was any one person who was instrumental in helping you get from where you started out, to where you are now?
I credit my mother for some of the most valuable life advice over the years. I would not
be the person I am today without her unconditional love.
Throughout the years, I have witnessed her endure many hardships and overcome
many life-changing obstacles.
She has always been there through all of the ups and downs of my life. During my
tempestuous times, she was the only person that believed in me!
She has instilled in me a hard work ethic, and a moral compass always pointing in the
direction of compassion.
She is one of my best friends and confidante, I still rely on her judgement and approval
to keep me grounded and maintain my self-esteem.
Is there a particular piece of advice you were given in the early days of your business journey that you still benefit from today?
A piece of advice I was given in the early days of my business journey that I still benefit from today was that any comment that runs along the lines of “that’s not possible” or “that can’t be done” should be treated as a challenge to prove them wrong.
What is the most important lesson you've learned about leadership in your business journey so far?
The most important lesson I've learned about leadership is taken from the old adage, "You lead by example." I think that's why I work as hard as everyone else to achieve our objectives.
What are the top three things you wish you'd known when you were just starting out?
The top three things I wish I'd known when I was starting out are:
1. Believe in yourself. You decide what is possible for you. Dare to believe you can be the best, and make it happen. Embrace challenges and setbacks as defining moments, learn from them and use them as springboards.
2. Expect the unexpected. Things don’t always go according to plan. The only thing we’re ever really guaranteed is that there are no guarantees in business! We have to be practical and recognise that we cannot possibly foresee everything that’s going to happen. So be flexible, be ready to roll with the punches and try to turn an unexpected situation to your advantage whenever possible.
3. Don’t always play by the book. Be different to be seen. It’s better to fail in originality than succeed in imitation. Don’t waste your time trying to imitate. Be yourself, and stand out from the crowd, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.
In your experience, what is the most effective way to build a strong network of mentors and advisors to guide you in your business endeavors?
It took me 2 years to realise how valuable a mentor was to help guide me through my entrepreneurial journey, from not making hasty business decisions to fostering valuable partnerships.
I have had 4 mentors since 2015 and have learned a large number of valuable lessons from every one of them.
Having a mentor is more than just the transfer of advice, knowledge, and insights. Being mentored also provides exposure to fresh perspectives, ideas, and approaches and an opportunity to reflect on my own goals and practices.
How do you determine when it's time to pivot, and what factors should you consider in making that decision?
Change is a natural and expected part of running a successful business. Sometimes or external factors can change in ways the founder didn’t anticipate, and in such cases, it’s necessary to take a different approach to your business operations.
The desire to take your company to new levels of performance and profits requires change and adaptation. It requires a break from routine and old habits. It will require a mindset shift with a full understanding of the importance of evolving.
During the pandemic for example, our focus was on helping our clients form new divisions to enforce The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closures) (England) Regulations 2020 relating to the closure of pubs, clubs, restaurants, and other relevant premises and we were primarily recruiting for COVID-19 contact tracing and interviewing roles.
The work we did helped reduce the likelihood of future pandemics as Environmental Health Professionals played a vital role in keeping the public safe by enforcing business closures and social distancing in workplaces as well as contact tracing and controlling COVID-19 outbreaks.
How do you stay motivated and inspired during the business cycle of ups and downs?
Entrepreneurship can be tough, and not just for the want of a skill or business acumen. It takes a lot of self-motivation and a strong emotional quotient to be able to do justice to your journey of being a leader.
I stay motivated and inspired during ups and downs by setting achievable goals for myself and my business, setting aside time to measure the success of my efforts and most importantly constantly reminding myself of the goals I want to achieve on a personal level through this journey as a business owner.
Looking back, what one thing would you do differently if you could start your journey over again?
If I could go back in time and start Buckingham Futures over from scratch one thing would you do differently would be to bring on key advisors from day one.
As I dealt with the challenges that came my way at every stage of growth, and as I tried to figure out how to overcome them, one thing became clear: these challenges might be new to me, but they’re not unique.
The value I’ve found over the last couple of years from working with brilliant and experienced advisors and mentors has been tremendous, and it could’ve helped me avoid a lot of these regrets in the early days.
Where should people follow you to find out more about your work?