Biography

Alex Cenem

I was born in Brazil, São Paulo, in 1966, in a middle-class family.

Mum was born in Pernambuco (north of Brazil), the only child and a proper beautiful mulata-baiana, small-built, spirited, and gold-hearted. Descendant of Italian immigrants, dad, the youngest of nine siblings, was always a hard work man trying to fulfil his “male role” in the family.

​They had four children, me, the oldest, two sisters and one brother, who passed away in his first year. Interestingly, we never talked about him; it is like he never existed, although I could never forget meeting him.

 

My family was very much like those huge Italian families you see in films, with over 12 cousins, just from my dad’s part of the family. However, on my mom’s side, there were two branches; her real descendants from her roots in the north of Brazil and her adoptive family in Sao Paulo (ten cousins in total). I guess it gives you an idea of how many aunties, uncles and cousins I have. Whether they are blood-related or not, I consider them all equally family members. In fact, I am very lucky to have had such influences because, despite their distinctness, I learned a big deal about how to love and accept diversity and inclusion.

 

Today, I look at my childhood and realise I had an incredible time; regardless of the many challenges, the hardest was getting by the serious bullying experiences. Perhaps people didn’t know how to deal with my free-spirited, empathic, feminine energy nature and curiosity about life. These characteristics have undoubtedly given me the best experiences; they taught me about real life and real people. I learned to accept people for what they are and not for what I wish they were.

 

Although growing up wasn’t always a walk in the park, I believe I managed it well. I have maintained a great relationship with all my family members and childhood friends and retain good memories; I consider this one of my life’s best treasures.

Being on good terms with my past helps me understand the structures that made me who I am today. And yes, I still carry scars and traumas from then, but I learned that life is about the dynamics of transformation and adaptation. Today, I consider myself happy, strong, resilient and compassionate as I learned to take ownership of my emotions, thoughts and actions. 

 

I was considered a good student in Brazil, although I wasn’t focused or liked to study. I had too much energy to keep still and do homework or read a book. But I enjoyed watching classes, documentaries, and films and somehow could remember what I learned from them. Today I realise I am a visual, auditory and kinesthetic learner; I developed the skills of writing and reading throughout the years, 

 

I started working when I was 14 with my dad in his accountancy office. Although I wasn’t very happy doing it, it was undoubtedly my introduction to personal and professional principles. My dad was tough, and I was treated like any other junior employee. It gave me independence and courage to face the world. Soon after learning to be independent, I started exploring professional opportunities, and I got to work for places like Dinners Club, Visa-Mastercard (Citibank)  and American Express.

Undoubtedly, these organisations greatly impacted my professional development and ethos.

Moreover, between 19 and 21, while working full time, I also studied (university), organised charity events (for orphanages in Sao Paulo), and developed my own business (Arco iris) as a children’s entertainer-party decorator. I still can’t believe where I found the time and energy to do everything, but I did, and it was one of the best times of my life.

 

I moved to London in 1990 on a holiday trip to visit my dear friend Charm, who was, at that time, one of the directors of the Psychosynthesis Education Trust. Having the opportunity to participate in the Psychosynthesis Youth Project changed everything in my journey.

Between my life in Brazil and living in the UK for over 30 years, I experienced an incredible and unimaginable life journey, which perhaps will become a book.

I have accumulated over 35 years of well-rounded professional experience, including working as a marketing manager at American Express / Brazil (21) and becoming the first SM (Star Manager) of the Starbucks opening team in Europe (32).

 

At Starbucks, I organised the former UK prime minister Tony Blair and chancellor Gordon Brown’s national interview broadcast in one of the stores I managed (Villiers Street).

​Furthermore, I have organised and managed several events and catering functions at Kensington Palace (the royal residence / London) and its Orangery, and many other historical places in the UK, including; the British Museum, the National Opera House, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Nottingham Castle and at Hamleys Toy Store in Regent Street. Some events included VIP guests, such as royal family members (Princess Ann, Duchess of Kent and Lady Diana). A-list celebrities include Dame Joan Collins, Sir Mick Jagger, Madonna, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Stanley Kubric.

I have also managed and developed the Skylight Cafe project at Crisis UK, one of the UK’s top national community charities. The project was one of the first social enterprise models in the UK; it provided employability training programmes for young homeless and ex-offenders. During my time with Crisis Uk, I have participated in public interviews for BBC radio, the BBC TV show Ready Steady Cook, and the ITV Jeremy Kyle special TV show on homelessness.

This job with Crisis UK is one of my inspirations in developing my current projects.

 

​Between 1998 and 2008, I helped over 100 homeless reestablish their life as part of the community and trained over 5000 people, including managers. This process introduced me to the art of teaching and training people. It was an incredible journey because, besides my studies in psychology, I learned the real deal about being responsible for supporting other people’s personal, professional and social improvement. Leading and training teams in my many work assignments, I had the chance to experience first-hand the contingencies of the training and teaching trade. This experience also helped me comprehend the context and the reality of diverse ethnicities, backgrounds and different ages trying to work together.

 

Meanwhile, I also presented lectures to young students in primary and secondary schools in São Paulo (during my holidays in Brazil). I created specialised workshops to support children’s social and personal development and started my own business in the UK.

I wrote two children’s plays, Arabella and Dream. Dream was played by myself and a group of young actors in London at the Barbican Centre Library, Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital and the Unicorn Theater group (with review in TimeOut magazine), among many schools and locations around London. Arabella was played as a puppet show at Bramley’s Big Adventure children’s Centre and Kensington Sports Centre.

As expected, there were a few drawbacks throughout this fantastic journey, which have helped me explore and understand mental health issues. Although experiencing severe PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and developing dyslexia was very challenging, it did not stop me from concluding my studies and designing my projects. I learned to be a new me, motivate myself, and not let depression take the best of me.

This experience helped me understand the challenges of having a disability and added a unique twist to my personal development. I learned to develop strategies that helped me manage my mindsets, attitude, behaviour, discipline and focus (the DNA programme). As part of my aspirations, I aim to help others overcome mental health challenges.

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I think it is fair to say that I have dedicated most of my years to working hard and keeping a consistently successful track record. My perfectionist character has always influenced how I see and do things; it is both my main enemy and my best ally. Nevertheless, I believe I have acquired enough experiences and skills during my life journey that enabled me to help others improve their personal, professional and social circumstances.

 

Today, inspired by my developmental journey, I am concentrating on progressing my personal projects (Interface Schema and Ace Consulting personal development). I am also creating the book and courses based on the Dynamic Natural Assessment programme© ​(the DNA programme),  my methodology on human development.

I know a lot needs to be done and learned, and I aim not to get put off by the arduous work I have ahead, including keeping up with all the modern world challenges and changes. I cannot see myself stopping anytime soon; I only hope to have enough time and health to develop my projects successfully.

I am always happy to talk and discuss different views, networking, partnerships or collaborations. Please get in touch, and thank you for reading my biography.

Keep an eye on this space!