Steve Shutts, Chairman, ASTRiiD spoke to Business Matters about the UK charity which helps people regain control on their lives and what his motivation is in business.
What do you currently do?
I am the chairman of ASTRiiD; a UK charity which has a mission to give talented people living with long term, chronic illness the chance to boost their self-worth and regain control of their lives, by providing meaningful employment opportunities.
Through its online matchmaking service, the first-of-its-kind in the UK, ASTRiiD aims to connect the millions of people with often incurable and advanced health conditions and disabilities, with businesses seeking skilled staff or volunteers.
Alongside this role, I am also Group Non-Exec Director for the Clicksco Group– a martech company that provides artificial intelligence and data-driven digital marketing services to brands, publishers and agencies across all sectors.
What was the inspiration behind your business/charity?
My brother, David Shutts, (pictured with Steve above) founded ASTRiiD after being diagnosed with inoperable stage four kidney cancer. He found that the disruption to his professional life was emotionally debilitating. He recognised that there must be thousands of other people like him who were keen to get back into the workplace, despite their long-term illnesses. He passed away in May of this year, and I wish to continue his legacy. David was a huge inspiration for me and for many others who he influenced and being Chairman of ASTRiiD really is a continued reminder of this.
What defines your way of doing business?
I love challenging others to think outside the box, especially when it comes to their work and business. I have a career spanning blue-chip brands and fast growth start-ups and have a wealth of expertise in the areas of marketing, business consultancy and people management.
I enjoy being innovative and looking ahead of the curve, which has developed from working with fast-thinking brands such as Clicksco and national supermarket chain Sainsbury’s. I worked for the retailer for 14 years and rose from a store management background to becoming the company’s first head of strategic marketing.
Currently with ASTRiiD, I am fiercely advocating for employers, recruiters and HR directors to recognise the true potential of the ‘invisible talent pool’ – the millions of skilled people affected by long-term health conditions and disabilities, but with a thirst to work. This remarkable community of people has been hidden in the shadows for too long, confined by traditional recruitment practices that block their access to employment.
Who do you admire?
I hugely admired my brother David for his strength and determination to make the most of his life as well as better the lives of others through ASTRiiD, despite his illness. I also admire the many individuals I meet through ASTRiiD who are rebuilding their lives, after suffering with illness for so long, and anyone who has made the fullest use of their potential, in whatever aspect of life.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
I enjoy my position within ASTRiiD and helping those involved with the platform, but of course the charity developed due to unforeseen circumstances with my brother. I would always have preferred David to not have been diagnosed and have lived a healthy life, but it has taught me so much along the way. I’m now a great believer of learning from the past to shape the future, and hope this will help ASTRiiD develop in a really positive way.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Understand and remember your value. If there’s one thing I’ve learned through ASTRiiD, it’s that it is very easy to forget how far you have come and the value you add to the workplace. The skills you amass from the start of your career are your most valuable possession and with every new experience you become wiser and stronger. Never allow a setback, no matter how big, to make you doubt your self-worth.