Inspirational Woman: Nisa Chitakasem | Co Founder of Position Ignition

Nisa Chitakasem has been involved in numerous new company ventures including an IPTV business, executive coaching business and mydeco, created by the team that started lastminute.com.  Nisa helps people get the support they need to achieve what they want and deserve.  She believes that too many people are left with inadequate support and, therefore, get stuck with what they do not enjoy.  Nisa is also passionate about entrepreneurship, learning and music.  We managed to grab some of Nisa’s time to ask her a few questions below;

What made you decide to setup Position Ignition?

As I was growing up and I left the school and University structured systems – I came out lost, confused and without a real clue as to what I wanted to do.  I was determined to do something that felt right for me but still earned me some decent money. There wasn’t any good support around to help me figure this all out and I’ve also come to realise that this is a pretty common feeling at various stages in people’s careers – whether you’re starting out or have been working for years.

Your career is so important and it’s also very personal to you.  Most of the time you are on your own when it comes to figuring out what to do, where to go, and how to get it.  I set up Position Ignition with Simon North, as we both had a strong belief that real quality career support is just missing in the market. It’s rare to find decent career support, but to get it from people who’ve been there, done that and can guide you all the way from where you are now to where you want to be – didn’t exist.

For me it was also important to be involved in something that I believe in and that I think brings real value to people.  So, we set up Position Ignition.  In my eyes – we provide the careers support that everyone should have always had available to them.

What have been your biggest challenges so far in the company?

When we talk to people about what we do, it’s amazing how many people say ‘where have you been?’ or ‘I could do with that!’.  The challenges though are in getting the word out to people who are serious about their careers and also to those who are ready and willing to invest in it.   In the UK especially, we’re used to having our education, our training, our learning – all paid for by others – whether it’s the school, the government or our companies.  It’s as though it isn’t our responsibility. When it comes to our careers – it’s personal to us and it’s about getting it right for ourselves. We aren’t used to paying for that as a society.  We also aren’t used to investing in ourselves i.e. something that will benefit us only.

We do obviously come across people who have reached a stage in their life where it is really important for them to get it right now and to dedicate some time, energy and effort to making it happen.  They’ve tried everything else they could think of but nothing has worked so then when they work with us and see the results there is no doubt in their mind that the time and investment in this was well worth it.

Getting everyone to this stage and in this frame of mind however, is the challenge!

To start up your own business is an amazing thing. It’s tough, it requires hard work and determination but it can also be fun, exciting and energising.

Career Guidance, how does it work for someone who is looking to enhance their career?

This is an interesting question and really depends on where that person is and what they’re looking for.  The bulk of people coming to us find themselves feeling de-motivated by the work or situation they are currently in. They feel ‘stuck in a rut’, frustrated, unchallenged, in need of a change but nearly always – with no idea as to where to start or what they could do.

Most people working with us will work through a programme. Each one is uniquely tailored to each person we work with but the Guiding process is similar. We spend quality time with the individual helping them to really get to know themselves better.  This is where we look at their strengths, skills, experience to date, their value system and pull it all together. We build up that picture of what this person is about, what they can do and what really makes them tick.  Then we look at their options.  What the possibilities and opportunities are for this person with all of this stuff on board.  Evaluating your options with yourself, a friend or colleagues is never the same as with a Career Guide – so many people find this an eye opening experience.  After everything is scoped out we help the individual narrow down their options to identify the right one for them and we help them move to action and get it.  It’s a pretty comprehensive process.

That’s a brief overview of what one can expect if they’re being guided through to achieving their goal.  In some cases people are looking to develop their skills and rise up in their careers.  Confidence is a big issue and can really hold us back so we often end up working on building confidence level through our career guiding work.

Another thing that might be interesting to note with us is that when we Guide someone – it’s all about ‘you’ and what’s right for you the client. It’s also about giving you exactly what you need in order to move you forwards and get results. It’s the getting results and actually getting what you want that I’m really passionate about. It’s not like having a chat with someone who might give you a bit of advice and then leave you.  This is about helping people figure out how to do it, the steps they need to take in order to get there and seeing it through.

If someone was starting up their business, what advice would you give them?

To start up your own business is an amazing thing. It’s tough, it requires hard work and determination but it can also be fun, exciting and energising.  I think it’s important to keep the faith in what you’re creating. You also need to keep at it even if others around you don’t always support you.  If you really think that this is going to work and you believe in it whole-heartedly then keep going.  Use that passion and energy to move you forwards.  Also – don’t do it all alone.  For me it’s really important to have Simon there – as we’re in it together and we can bounce ideas off each other and just keep the momentum going. That doesn’t mean to say that you have to have a business partner.  I think it’s just important to be able to have a support network around you and people who you can talk to about your ideas, where you’re going, your strategy and also to vent frustrations at when things aren’t always going amazingly well!

It’s a new business and a start up – so you have to expect a certain number of things to go wrong as well.  That’s completely natural and actually healthy.  You just need to remember to take as many learnings as you can from things that didn’t quite go as planned, to pick yourself up and to continue now with greater knowledge of what the best next steps will be!

One other thing when starting up a business – don’t forget to have fun! If you’re not enjoying it or getting something out of it – why do it?

If there was one thing that you could say was a great success, what would it be?

Generally, with me or with the business?

In the business for me, what is really successful is all the people that I’ve met and come into contact with through Position Ignition.  Working with Simon is really great – the respect, the communication between us and also the way we see things so differently yet can harness that difference – is great. The partners we work with, our Guides, all of our interns and also our clients.   I have learnt and continue to learn a lot by working with everyone involved in our business and it’s a lovely experience. The people I’ve met are also amazing people – with their own unique experiences, stories to tell and talents.  It has always been important to me to work with people who I respect and like.  This is definitely true and so has definitely been a success.

Being able to work with people who see our value as well and understand what we’re trying to do also provides an immense sense of satisfaction and helps us continue moving forwards to build the business.

If you could rewind your career back would there be anything you would like to change?

That’s a difficult question really.  When I look back in my career there are definitely moments where I made silly decisions or was maybe in a situation that wasn’t quite right for me – but at the same time without having gone through all of those experiences I wouldn’t be where I am now. I’m not really the type of person who has regrets or sits around thinking about ‘what if’s’.  I try to learn from everything I do, build from it and move forwards.  If I went back in time I may try out slightly different things but I’d like to believe that each time I did that – I’d always be happy with where I ended up and hence the choices (some good and bad!) that led me there.

What is your view on Social Media Networking?  How does it help you?

Social media networking – the concept is great. I use a lot of the social media tools but at the same time I do have days when I feel like switching off my computer completely and ignoring that any of that exists! It’s getting the right balance that’s important I think.

For the business we do try to reach out to people who might be in need or interested in what we do via social media networking and we find that it works well.  We’ve put a lot of effort into our blog (www.positionignition.com/blog) and in providing helpful articles on careers related topics.  We’re finding that as the months go on, we’re building up a following and people are taking an interest in what we have to say which is a good sign.

What to you is the value of Networking with like minded individuals?

Networking is great if it’s done properly.  I really enjoy getting to know people and being able to share ideas and experiences with like-minded individuals is really valuable.  I’m not really one for simply counting up the number of ‘contacts’ in my little address book or Linkedin connections list!  I’m interested in holding onto good contacts. People I really know, people I like, people who know me and who I can just have a chat with whether we might be able to help each other or not.  Often when you go in without any agenda of ‘wanting to get something out of this person’ – you’ll find many areas of overlap and ways you can naturally help each other.

I also really value diversity in my network.  Older people, younger people, individuals from a variety of backgrounds and cultures and people working across a whole host of industries – I think this is great and also important to help you learn, understand, grow as an individual and in business.

The key is in knowing yourself and hence what you really want. It’s also in being focused about what you go after.

How do you see the market performing in the next 12-18 months?

I see things improving and moving forwards. The recession has been tough for most of us but if we can survive this then I believe that for business and people personally – things will get better.

When and if you get the time, what do you like to do to obtain a life balance?

For me it’s music. It’s also seeing my friends – socialising and also meeting new people.

I teach the piano each week, which is a great ‘time-out’ for me. I enjoy it and it’s calming. I also play the piano and violin and write songs / music when I have the time. That’s something I want to be able to make more time for later on but I feel like I’m heading in the right direction.

I also like to travel and see new places. Old cities, gothic architecture – love it! The theatre, plays, musicals – I also enjoy and think that it’s one of the greatest things about living in London.

Can you share any tips for any members wishing to progress further into their career?

Take the time to really think about what you want and what’s right for you. It’s easy for us to go with the flow and to fall into various roles and jobs.  However, if you take a bit of time to figure out what is really going to make you happy, feel fulfilled and satisfied in what you are doing – you may find that all you need is a few simple changes to get you there and everything will slot much better into it’s place.

Also – don’t follow the crowd. Make your own path and progression. You’ll feel a whole lot more satisfied

The key is in knowing yourself and hence what you really want. It’s also in being focused about what you go after.

Focus on your strengths and what you’re good at. Don’t dwell on what your supposed ‘weaknesses’ are. We would all do much better if we harnessed our strengths and played to them more – so try and identify what they are and work with them through your career.

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