Alex Linley

"Creating something that enables other people to grow and develop has been really enjoyable. Having the autonomy to decide what I want to do every day has been excellent too."

"I began my undergraduate degree in psychology in my mid-twenties, having started but decided against a degree in philosophy and Russian, and having successfully – for a time – managed a paint spraying business. Having a good eye for business opportunities has served me well in both this and subsequent ventures.

"I identified a supervisor at Warwick University who I was very keen to work with, but who I was told was not taking any more students. Despite this I managed to organise a short meeting with him, and during this time I managed to convince him to take me on. My doctoral studies were around the area of positive psychology, and specifically a study of those who have overcome traumatic events.

"Two years into my doctorate I got a job at Leicester as a lecturer, which I continued after my doctorate for three years. I enjoyed the research and teaching but deplored the admin, and the system which told people what they had to do. My philosophy is about getting people to do the things they are good at and indeed the area of my organisation’s focus now is positive psychology, or identifying people’s individual strengths for them to build on and achieve.

"The Centre of Applied Positive Psychology started out as a not for profit company, the aim being to combine academic values with commercial rigour and focus. We do a lot of consultancy for organisations, helping them to get the best out of their employees while maintaining an active research side. We have subsequently changed the set up of the business, and we are now a limited company which includes a charitable arm. This is still a challenge because not many recognise the charitable work we do. We offer discounted rates for charities, and all members of the team have community days on their contracts which involves going out and working for charities.

"I developed a lot of extremely useful skills which serve me to this day, but on seeing research results and having the idea for my enterprise I realised that there was no place for it in an academic setting. With my idea and my academic qualifications and business background I decided to make a go of it. My wife and I decided that it was an excellent chance to take the plunge and this is what I did. My family in general were extremely supportive during this time.

"I drew a lot of inspiration from The Jigsaw Man by Paul Britton. He was in his mid twenties, he already had a child with another on the way. He worked nights and went to universities during the day – I thought if he can do it so can I! Creating something that enables other people to grow and develop has been really enjoyable. Having the autonomy to decide what I want to do every day has been excellent too. There is a lot more pressure to accompany this though and I would urge those thinking of embarking on setting up their own business to bear this in mind. If you are the kind of person who doesn’t thrive on pressure then you might want to consider whether you will thrive in the business world. My doctorate gave me the ability to ask pertinent questions, to write well which I practiced and honed, and of course the work I did has a lot of applications to what CAPP does now."