Ketan Dattani of Buckingham Futures: “Reward yourself”

Reward yourself — as soon as you achieve a key task, celebrate. Even a small reward is a great motivator — maybe it’s a coffee break, a walk in the park or a staycation. Rewarding yourself for victories, big and small, will make a world of difference! As a part of our series about how very accomplished leaders were […]

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Reward yourself — as soon as you achieve a key task, celebrate. Even a small reward is a great motivator — maybe it’s a coffee break, a walk in the park or a staycation. Rewarding yourself for victories, big and small, will make a world of difference!

As a part of our series about how very accomplished leaders were able to succeed despite experiencing Imposter Syndrome, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ketan Dattani.

Ketan Dattani holds 23 years of Environmental Health recruitment experience and has a high profile within this sector.

He is widely documented as an expert on Employment Law, Employee Rights, and for providing Careers Advice.

Ketan is the Founding Owner and CEO of Buckingham Futures, a specialist Environmental Health Recruitment Business that provides bespoke permanent and temporary recruitment and consultancy solutions to public and private sector employers.

Academically Ketan is a graduate of Environmental Biology and a post-graduate of Environmental Planning and Management. He also holds a Certificate in Employment Law and The Certificate in Recruitment Practice which is a nationally recognised recruitment qualification developed jointly by the REC and key employers.

Outside of business, Ketan volunteers with a number of schools, colleges and universities providing careers guidance, CV interview technique workshops, and conducting mock interviews with those looking to embark on a career within the Environmental Health sector.

He also offers work experience programs and opportunities at Buckingham Futures for students, to help them achieve their potential by giving them an insight into the world of work.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

Hello, and thank you for the opportunity!

I am a recruitment business owner. As a business owner, I have the freedom to make executive decisions that will affect the future of not only the company but also those around me in the long term. I utterly love the work I do, and the people I get to work with.

I have a wonderful family; supportive parents, a beautiful wife, four incredible children an eccentric Bulldog. I love my life. But my story wasn’t always so rosy.

I was born in Leicester in the early 1970s after my parents were forced to come to the UK from their birthplace of Uganda by Idi Amin the military dictator.

In London, our economic situation wasn’t the best. We lived in a rented room until the birth of my sister. It was then that we were allocated council housing.

Sadly, there were not many prospects in my area however there were abundant difficulties with social deprivation, racial hostility and substance abuse.

If I’m really honest I’ve spent most of my childhood years doubting myself. As the only Asian kid on my South-east London Council Estate, I lacked confidence due to daily racist taunts and often violence as well. I found myself constantly looking for the approval of others, and desperately wanting to be accepted and fit in.

As I reached adolescence, I rebelled and my fears manifested as a series of failures. My unshakeable belief in my ineptitude stopped me from truly trying to succeed. Unwittingly, I was conforming to a self-fulfilling prophecy I’d set for myself.

Today, I’m a very confident man who stands tall and is comfortable in his skin.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

When I first set up Buckingham Futures, I found that most clients were unwilling to do business with a ‘one-man-band and I felt that to succeed I needed to give the impression that Buckingham Futures was a bigger business than it was.

I look back on those days and laugh now but I used to play YouTube videos of a busy office environment in the background when calling clients.

I invested in a virtual business address to help add credibility to Buckingham Futures as I felt would be easier to successfully attract clients by having a ‘brick and mortar’ location.

My business cards showed a prestigious central London location, all my mail was posted there and I would arrange to meet with clients in the reception area of my virtual office and conduct our meetings in nearby cafes.

This set-up was running well for about 8 months. Then one day I received a call from a client to say that she was in London for the afternoon and would love the opportunity to meet with me and my team in person to thank us for everything we had done for her and that she would be at my office in less than 10 minutes.

The problem was that it took me over an hour to get to my virtual office from my parent’s box (where my actual office was) and there was no way I’d be there in 10 minutes. I was afraid that the receptionists would let the ‘cat out of the bag’ and tell her that Buckingham Futures did not have an office, let alone a team-based there! I felt that had no choice but to come clean about my business set-up.

It was on this day that I learnt that the most imperative quality clients look for is authenticity. To be authentic can be the difference between failing or succeeding.

It is not easy, as being authentic is as much about revealing your flaws as playing to your strengths. It is often tempting to put up a front of total competence rather than risk looking vulnerable.

However, authenticity is a key ingredient in running a successful business and leading a great team.

As the business has grown, I remember to always remain authentic and to never lose that openness and willingness to connect with people.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

True to my profession as a recruitment leader, I have to say my team are what makes Buckingham Futures stand out. The right team will elevate a business to the next level.

I like to look at my business like a tree. The leaves symbolise employees. The branches represent each department and the roots symbolise the strategic focus and future direction the business is designed to grow. The trunk stands for the entire body of knowledge a business possesses.

The roots are the team members that provide the business with what it requires to grow and prosper and will be there until the very end.

With proper nourishment, the tree will achieve healthy growth by growing steadily, optimally, and profitably.

To weather changes that naturally occur in the marketplace, the healthiest trees have a management culture that takes the time to understand and analyse the relationship of each branch, and leaf to the others.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

There are so many people I am incredibly grateful for who have helped me get to where I am today, and the list keeps growing. Through it all, my biggest cheerleader has always been my mother. She in particular has helped me to overcome my imposter syndrome and allowed me to start believing in myself.

Throughout the years, 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 my one of my best friends and confidante, I still rely on her judgement and

approval to keep me grounded and maintain my self-esteem.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the experience of Impostor Syndrome. How would you define Impostor Syndrome? What do people with Imposter Syndrome feel?

Imposter Syndrome is an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be.

To put it simply, imposter syndrome is the experience of feeling like a fake — you feel as though at any moment you are going to be found out as a pretender — like you don’t belong where you are, and you only got there through sheer luck.

What are the downsides of Impostor Syndrome? How can it limit people?

No matter how many framed certificates line walls, regardless of how many trophies sit on shelves, despite constant praise from everyone around them, sufferers of imposter syndrome never truly feel that they belong where they are in life.

Some people exhibit signs of impostor syndrome by becoming a people pleaser, others find themselves constantly comparing to others or thinking everyone has more success than they do.

These feelings can prevent you from moving forward or achieving success.

How can the experience of Impostor Syndrome impact how one treats others?

When you’re constantly on the hunt for validation, you inhibit your interpersonal relationship and growth. Being reliant on other’s ideas or opinions of you eventually strip away and diminish the strength of your ideas, thoughts, and beliefs.

You live in a state of fear, competition, or paranoia– rather than feeling safe, content, and confident with who you are or what you have accomplished.

We would love to hear your story about your experience with Impostor Syndrome. Would you be able to share that with us?

I still recollect the feelings I used to have as an employee. No matter how well I did, I felt that I wasn’t good enough for the corporate world. I felt (and sometimes literally was) unacknowledged, and my voice was hardly heard. The workplace culture was built around dominant white identities, with racial jokes being the norm making it difficult for me to fit in socially.

This feeling of otherness was a common occurrence in the boardroom where, too often, I would be the only person of colour present.

On the one occasion I raised this, I was made to feel that I should be grateful for the opportunity and was advised by Human Resources not to be so sensitive if I wanted to advance in my corporate career.

This resulted in me creating an internal cycle of self-doubt. Even when I achieved an important milestone, I was unable to recognise my accomplishments.

Looking back, I realise now I was fulfilling the role of the ‘diverse’ board; being Asian.

Did you ever shake the feeling off? If yes, what have you done to mitigate it or eliminate it?

I’d love to tell you that the effects of Impostor Syndrome are all behind me. Although it affects me much less now, the truth is it’s something I still battle with.

However, I have learnt to re-frame my experiences as learning opportunities by using a combination of mindfulness, mindset and taking action towards the very thing the fear tells me I can’t accomplish.

In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone who is experiencing Impostor Syndrome can take to move forward despite feeling like an “Impostor”? Please share a story or an example for each.

Once you’ve identified imposter syndrome, you’ve taken the first step. From here it may take trial and error to find the strategies that work for you, but here are 5 steps to get started.

Step #1

Explore the origins — examine your past experiences with success, going back to your childhood to figure out how you got here. Think about earlier successes and what happened as a result.

Step #2

Build Your Confidence — if you achieve small and big goals, you’re going to feel much better about yourself. Keep in mind that progress is incremental, and big changes do not happen overnight.

Step #3

Develop a healthy response to failure — failure is accompanied by a variety of emotions; embarrassment, anxiety, anger, sadness, and shame to name a few. Allowing yourself to feel bad can be motivating. It can help you work harder to find better solutions so that you’ll improve next time.

Step #4

Visualise success — if you can’t picture yourself achieving a goal, chances are you won’t. The more vivid you can get, the better it will work for you. Picture what you will do once your goal is reached.

Step #5

Reward yourself — as soon as you achieve a key task, celebrate. Even a small reward is a great motivator — maybe it’s a coffee break, a walk in the park or a staycation. Rewarding yourself for victories, big and small, will make a world of difference!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would like to see everyone recycling much more, as it helps to reduce energy usage, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce air pollution and water pollution (from landfills) by reducing the need for “conventional” waste disposal and also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Us Brits are said to be among the highest waste producers in the world. These wastes include those from kitchens, laundries, bathrooms, and gardens as well as industrial waste.

As a parent, I’ve experienced first-hand how my 4 children have an innate connection to the environment. They are naturally very open to new ideas and perspectives whereas most adults have grown accustomed to a certain way of life. They’ve experienced the convenience of living a less environmentally conscious lifestyle. Breaking those habits and changing those ways of thinking can be a huge hurdle.

When we don’t recycle, reuse and reduce, we destroy natural habitats. As it is, our earth cannot cope with the current rate of destruction.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

It would be an absolute pleasure to have breakfast or lunch Elon Musk.

Elon is an innovator in every sense of the word and his approach to life is so authentic and well-planned. I am highly inspired by his work and progress. Each of his companies represents a reinvention of an established industry against people who said, “You can’t do that.”

I find it particularly inspiring that his confidence is not steeped in technology, but in people and his belief in the capabilities humans hold, and the responsibilities of what it means to be the controlling species on earth.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

They can follow me on instagram @ketanova. I’m also on LinkedIn at

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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