"All students should have access to quality advice and relevant career opportunities regardless of their background, gender or ethnicity." - Binda Bhudia Managing director of Pure Potential.
Binda Bhudia and the forward motion of success
Binda Bhudia heads up Pure Potential a UK based organisation assisting State School Students with future decisions. FirstStep.me found out more about Pure Potential's projects, Binda's Career and what makes being a student in the UK different to anywhere else on the planet!
Tell us about you career and how did you end up at Pure Potential? I studied Geography at King’s College London – most people would ask if I was going to be a weather women when I finished university. If I had a Pound for every time someone asked me that, I would be sipping cocktails on a beach in Bali by now! Although I loved my degree, my real passion in life was to work with young people. I came across Pure Potential (PP) during my first year at university, as I learnt more about PP, I began to realise that it was an organisation that I wanted to be a part of. I worked for PP during the summer of my first year of uni and continued to stay involved from then onwards. I remember finishing my finals on Friday and going straight into the office on Monday morning! I feel proud of being a part of an organisation that has helped over one million students in the UK and will continue to do the same in the future.
Pure Potential's focus is on state students, why so and how did the Pure Potential story begin? There was a study conducted by the Sutton Trust stating that students from state schools and colleges were 50% less likely to apply to top universities and work in leading professions compared to their privately-educated counterparts. This didn’t sit well with us and we wanted to do something to address this imbalance. All students should have access to quality advice and relevant career opportunities regardless of their background, gender or ethnicity. We have been working hard since 2005 to bring together top university, employers, teachers and parents to ensure young people across the UK are supported to achieve their full potential.
How do you manage balancing a business with keeping a pulse on a very dynamic youth market? You need to be realistic about your aims and goals, never bite off more than you can chew. We engage with over 6,000 students face-to-face at our events and we use these events as opportunities to speak to students, learn about how they feel, what support they need and how we can best support them. Further we have over 8,000 teachers on our network and we often ask them for their input. The key is to be flexible – as a business, we need to continually review, assess, amend and adapt our strategy so it is in-line with the market. We definitely wouldn’t have survived for 10 years, if we didn’t.
Why should local and international students pursue a higher education qualification in the UK? Regardless of whether you choose to study in the UK or anywhere else, it’s vital for students to make informed choices about their futures, and the only way to do this is through research. Whether you see yourself in the UK, USA or Germany for example, learn as much as you possibly can about that country, the culture, the range of universities and the course. You will be spending three or more years (depending on where you go) studying so you need to be sure it is the right course and location for you.
Student debt is a global problem - any solutions? I don’t believe that there is a single solution that will solve student debt on a global scale, but I do feel that students should never let money stand in the way of their dreams, especially when there are thousands of universities around the world who offer generous financial support – students just need to be a little savvy to work out which ones offer the best package.
Any funny or eventful happenings during your time at Pure Potential? One of the best experiences of my time at PP was during a four-day residential with 250 students a couple of years ago. Many of the students arrived not really knowing many people, feeling quite nervous and apprehensive. Over the course of the residential, they began to make new friends, developed a whole host of different skills and created some incredible memories. You could see the transformation happening in front of your eyes, as students started to feel more confident – by the end of the four days, I could tell the students didn’t want to leave! Some of them were tearful as they said goodbye to their new friends. It was incredible to be a part of their journeys – the transformation was amazing. Definitely a personal highlight.
If you could name your own planet what would you call it? I’d probably name it after my parents. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them and there aren’t enough words in this world to show them how grateful I am, but a planet in their name should do the trick.
Words of advice for the youth of the planet? Don’t let anyone tell you can’t do anything. No matter how big or small your ambitions are, they are yours to fulfil. You hear the word "can’t" more than the word "can" – stop listening to people who use the word can’t – I did and my life has been amazing ever since!
About: Connect with Binda @BindaBhudia or with Pure Potential @Pure_Potential or visit PurePotential.org