Biography

Alex Cenem

I was born in Brazil, São Paulo, in 1966, in a middle-class mixed family.
Mum was born in Pernambuco, north of Brazil), the only child and a proper beautiful mulata-baiana, small built, spirited, and gold-hearted. Dad is a typical descendant of Italian immigrants, the youngest of twelve siblings, and a very hard worker.

They had four children, me, the oldest, two sisters and one brother, who passed away very young. And because my parents are only 20 years older than me, and I managed to maintain a great relationship with all my family, today I can talk with all of them about anything, including their experiences and the influence they add to my life.

My relationship with my family is the best gift of all; it helps me understand the structures that created who I became today; some are very good, but some I have been working hard to improve; it calls taking responsibility.

I moved to London in 1990 on a 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 learn about psychosynthesis changed everything. 

Between my life in Brazil, where I had my own business at the age of 19, and living in the UK for over 30 years, I created an incredible and unimaginable journey of experiences; It feels I have done almost everything.

Today, I have accumulated over 35 years of well-rounded experience, including working as a marketing manager at American Express / Brazil and becoming the first SM (Star Manager) of Starbucks opening team in Europe. At Starbucks, I had the opportunity to meet the former UK prime minister Tony Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown in their national interview broadcast, which took place in one of the stores I managed (Villiers Street).

Furthermore, I have organised and managed several events and catering functions at the 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 of the events included VIP guests, which I have catered myself, such as members of the royal family (Princess Ann, Duchess of Kent and Lady Diana). A-list celebrities including, Dame Joan Collins, Sir Mick Jagger, 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 and social enterprise models. The Skylight project provides employability training programmes for young homeless and ex-offenders all over the UK, and it inspired me to develop my current projects. Furthermore, I have participated in public interviews for BBC radio and BBC channel Ready Steady Cook tv show and an ITV channel homeless special tv show promoting the Cafe project.

In addition to having helped over 100 homeless returning to work, I trained over 5000 people during other assignments in my career as a learning and development manager. This process introduced me to teaching and training people, and it inspired me to study different ways to help my students to learn. 

 

Besides my studies in psychology, I had to learn the real deal of 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, including understanding the challenges and needs that people have to improve themselves. This experience also helped me comprehend the context and the reality of diverse ethnicities, backgrounds and different ages trying to work together.


Moreover, back in Brazil, I have organised special charity events for many orphanages and presented lectures to young students in primary and secondary schools in São Paulo. I have worked as a children entertainer in my own business, Brazil and London, where I created specialised workshops to support children's social and personal development.

I have written 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), amongst many schools and locations around London. 

As expected, there were a few drawbacks throughout this fantastic journey, which has helped me exploring and understanding mental health issues. Although experiencing severe PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) was challenging, it did not stop me from concluding my studies and designing my projects. I had to learn to motivate myself and not let depression take the best of me. This experience helped me understand the challenges of having a disability, and it added a unique twist to my personal development. I learned to develop strategies that helped me manage my attitude, behaviour, discipline and focus. Today, one of my goals is to use these experiences, and my studies in psychology, to help others overcome mental health challenges. 
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I believe it is fair to say that I have dedicated most of my years working very hard, and I kept a consistently successful track record of best practices in all the businesses and projects I managed. Because of this, I believe I have acquired an exclusive set of skills that, together with my studies, enabled me to help others improve their personal, professional and social circumstances. 

My life journey has inspired me to develop my current projects, and today I feel I am ready to share my expertise on achieving a good mental health balance during a full life of experiences.

I still feel there are a lot to be done and learnt, and my aim is 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 at any time soon, so I only hope I will have enough health to keep up with the excellent work I am accustomed to providing and successfully develop my projects.​