5 Minutes with Chloe Cunningham...
Hi Chloe, how would you describe your company and the work you do in your role?
Our company empowers businesses globally to succeed through the health and wellbeing of their people. My role within this is very hands on, I deliver educational seminars, I organise in-office blood testing and provide actionable feedback and I also take on a limited number of private clients who I work with one on one.
What was your career path?
I studied English and Classical Literature at Newcastle before moving into production for music videos and tv adverts. I got hit by a bus when I was 23 and that derailed my path into nutrition and naturopathy.
What has been the most positive surprise to you in your career?
The fact that I can make a career out of doing something that I’m passionate about. I also love being able to help people. The more we practise, the more I realise just how valuable the information is that we provide. We offer knowledge and guidance that can be life changing to our clients. That is really gratifying.
What was the most difficult surprise?
Particularly with larger, more established firms, the lead time from an initial meeting with a company to getting a seminar in place can be quite long. As a small company, we are ‘ready to go’ and being scheduled in for a date that is 6 months away can be quite frustrating! Also not taking a salary to begin with- whilst paying other people in order to grow the company- can definitely be challenging at times.
What skill do you think has been most critical for your success to date?
I’m not sure if it’s a skill, but not giving up. It think this is definitely easier when you have a business partner, because on days where you question everything and wonder why the hell you ever thought it was a good idea to start your own company - the other person can carry you. We have been told ‘no’ by so many people, and been given so many reasons why our company wouldn’t work. Perseverance is key and a belief in what you are doing. Definitely a belief, because when you see positive outcomes it reinforces the drive in you.
What’s changing in your industry that excites you?
I’m excited that nutrition and its value is finally beginning to be be recognised in the NHS beyond dietetics. There are influential GPs such as Rangan Chatterjee and Rupy Aujla who are campaigning for nutrition education in medical schools and raising awareness of the power of nutrition and lifestyle choices in both preventing and managing disease. Nutrition and naturopathy is a system that addresses the person- aiming to find the root source of a problem and resolving it. Western medicine and the NHS are there for when things ‘go wrong’, for when we have accidents, need operations or surgery. I really love our NHS, I am so proud of it and I have so much respect and gratitude for every single one of its employees. As a society, however we are crippling it. We have become so reliant on it that we have forgotten the necessity of taking care of ourselves. The safety net of an NHS enables us to be lazy, it allows us to have the mentality of waiting until something is broken to fix it. It encourages a reactive healthcare model; and this is where we have got it wrong. Our health is all that we have. We should prize it and strive to keep it for as long as possible.
A more than significant proportion of GP appointments are taken up with chronic problems that are by and large driven by lifestyle choices; type 2 diabetes, obesity, gut problems, insomnia and headaches. I want to change the current mentality. I want people to be proactive about their health and realise that their daily decisions have a direct impact on their health. This is why we encourage testing when we work with companies. It’s a private test but we use NHS labs and you can see your results and you know where to focus your efforts.
You are ahead of the game and actively avoiding any nasty shocks down the line. If we can make people understand the power and importance of dietary and lifestyle choices in relation to their health, then we can empower people to make smarter choices, live healthier lives and free up our beloved NHS. Ultimately, nutrition and naturopathy focuses on finding and addressing the root cause, in the past there has been a discord between nutritional therapy and dieticians / the NHS, but there needn’t be. Actually they could and should work perfectly together in harmony. A qualified nutritional therapist should be able to work with someone to find the root cause of chronic issues and lifestyle lead diseases so that the NHS can focus on acute, short term problems and surgeries. It’ s great that GPs like Rangan and Rupy are leading the way in recognising the value of nutrition and bridging this gap.
What advice would you give to someone just coming in to your industry now?
Have a strategy, have patience and do your research. It’s common for people think “Oh, I’ll head to the banks and teach yoga / mindfulness / *insert relevant wellness activity* because they have lots of money and stressed out staff.” These institutions don’t part with their money easily, they need to be persuaded by what you are saying, their gates are watertight, guarded by HR more efficient than Cerberus. Many will be locked into contracts with wellness providers, many won’t have a budget, many will be too tired to hear you, but somewhere there will be someone that says yes.
If you could spend your time doing anything you wanted, what would you do?
This. I love what we do, I only wish I had found it earlier. If I won the lottery I would just invest into Health is Wealth Group - this is absolutely it for me.
Favourite way to spend the weekend?
In the countryside with a big log fire, the papers and delicious food!