Cat Snell for Bua – Neurodiversity Celebration Week 2022
Your Name: Cat Snell
What is your profession: Founder and Director of Bua
Where do you live: London
How did you start your day today? Do you have a morning routine? What do you have for breakfast, do you think a good diet is important?
I exercise almost every morning as it helps my mental health, but today I didn’t because I was very active this weekend (long run and open water swim)! Every morning I make myself a black coffee with my Aeropress, but other than that – no solid morning routine. It suits me to be flexible with my time and schedule.
How do you stay active? And what do you do to relax?
I’m really diligent with my exercise routine because otherwise I just don’t feel good – at the moment I am training for a half marathon, which is a challenge for me, but before I would go to the gym. I also love swimming. It’s important to me to have lots of variety in my interests and hobbies, so I don’t get bored. I think people often think I do loads of stuff, but I find it stimulating. Actually, I spend a lot of time at home too – as an introverted ambivert, I am careful to balance my time with people and without ? Most of my non-work interests and hobbies are creative or about learning something.
Do you have a favourite word or phrase?
Not really, now I come to think of it…
Have you read anything good recently?
I read every night to wind down before I fall asleep and have picked up some great international, fiction authors recently from my favourite bookshop. I am currently reading 4 Brown Girls Who Write, which is poetry and in a beautiful binding. Highly recommend.
Which 5 Albums would you want to have with you on a desert island?
I find this so hard to answer because I’m so into Spotify I rarely listen to a full album. (Sorry artists!) Some favourites I go back to again and again:
99.9% by Kaytranada
Total Life Forever by Foals
The English Riviera by Metronomy
Metamorphosis by Philip Glass
Nectar by Joji
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and who was it from?
It really depends on the context of a particular issue or time in my life, but I have had so many great mentors, advisors and peers that have given me fantastic advice. If you’re in need of advice, I recommend opening up to a trusted friend, colleague or manager. Most people will have experienced something similar and you never know where a word of comfort or support may come from.
I had some great advice last weekend that’s super relevant for me right now. It’s that people always overestimate what they can achieve in a year, and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade. I am keeping that in the front of my mind right now!
When you were young, what did you want to be when you were a grown-up? And what was your first Job?
My first job was tutoring A Level Biology, I honestly don’t think I was great at it, but I did enjoy it and it was funny to ‘revise’ A Level Biology without the pressure of exams.
When I was really young, I flitted between wanting to be a ballerina, architect, the ‘boss’ and 20 other job types… I liked exploring new things and thinking of all the possibilities I suppose.
What do you do now and how did you get into it?
I founded a social enterprise called Bua in 2021, after finishing studying social innovation and entrepreneurship. Bua supports more disabled and neurodiverse people into salaried employment, and right now we are specifically working on creative employment. We offer free, accessible and inclusive creative training on this website. You can sign up anytime, build a portfolio and then be prepared for interviews. There’s a job page too, that only shows roles from Disability Confident employers. We’d love you to sign up!
Creativity and thinking differently are often credited to neurodiversity. Would you say that is true? And if yes, could you give an example?
Absolutely and that was the whole point of Bua. I was interested in the intersect of neurodiversity and creativity for two reasons – I have experience of autism in my immediate family, and I have worked professionally in marketing. I started to research employment support programmes in the UK and noticed that they usually catered for salaried work in fields like technology or coding, or hourly paid work. While both of these pathways are really valid and needed, I did see a gap in the market for creative, salaried employment training for disabled and/or ND people.
Bua focusses on salaried, creative work. There’s loads of theory about why I focussed on this: for example, salaried work allows for more support if you fall sick, more financial stability etc. But also, neurodiverse people are so creative and sorely under-represented in creative industries and we also work with businesses to address that. Businesses need this community and they need to step up and embrace that.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus, what do you do to get back on track? Do you have any hacks, tips or do you use any apps to keep you on track during the day?
If I can’t focus, I try to take a break and come back, but if it’s something I just can’t switch on for, but I need to do it, I will put my headphones on (instead of using my laptop speakers) and put on an electronic focus album. One I’ve gone back to again and again is The End by Shlohmo. Something about the combination of noise cancelling headphones (even in my quiet flat) with electronic music sends me into deep concentration to get work done. If I feel overwhelmed, I try to write a list of everything I need to do and then split it into chunks based on the priorities. I’m pretty bad at doing this to be honest, and not very strict with myself… My to do lists are always a mess. But if I write everything out in one go it gets it out my head, then I split it into days, I’m not being too restrictive with myself about what needs to be done, but I’m still providing myself some structure and reducing the overwhelmed feeling.
Does being Neurodivergent affect new relationships? This can be professionally, socially or romantically.
Yes I think it does. I have a number of ND people in my life across a range of types. I think it’s more variation of the flavours of personality… I love it.
What makes you happy?
Being contented with friends and family. And the sun!
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Hm not sure about this. Maybe achieving a life goal by moving abroad – I lived in China from 2015-2016.
Do you have a Positive ND message to the world? Imagine you have a £5 million advertising campaign to spend on billboards all over the world, what would you say?
I would want to refine something along the lines of “just because it’s invisible, doesn’t mean it’s not there”. I think a lot of people deny neurodiversity because it’s not visible, especially when ND people have had to become so good at masking. I think it’s one of the most overlooked ‘under-represented characteristics’ because of the invisibility, but it deeply affects so many people and the way they interact, work and live. So I would want the general public to be aware of that.
The final question – where can people find out more about you? Do you have a website and social media pages? Please list them all.
You can log onto Bua’s training website for free, anytime:
I’m not personally very active on social media, but you can find my LinkedIn profile here.