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Life at Substance

By Adam White


Having spent my whole life in and around sport, participating and studying its effects on the body, on the economy and on the culture of entire nations, I left Sheffield Hallam University with an MSc and the desire to become part of an organisation that works within sport to make a difference. Yet, after months of frustration, summed up by the all too similar ‘Thank you for your application. we regret to inform you….’ email, I began to feel as though my future lay outside the sporting world.  However, whether it be my stubbornness or fear of the unfamiliar, I continued on in my quest to achieve an ambition that had been created long ago. I must admit, prior to reading the job posting for the role of Marketing and Sales Assistant at Substance, I had little knowledge about the organisation or their mission. But, the more I read, the more I began to believe this role was one I’d been looking for.

For more than a decade Substance has been changing landscapes, not just within the sporting sector but across many sectors which make a significant impact on society. Substance’s neat infusion of research and technology has allowed them to make real change in organisations ranging from globally recognised sports clubs to local community projects. So, what makes Substance different? Perhaps it was right time, right idea but for me, it is the people. The blend of researchers, programmers and professionals has produced an organisation which develops smart solutions to help organisations work smarter and have greater impact.

Perhaps the most recognisable of all Substance’s products is the Views Platform, a project management and impact reporting platform which allows organisations to not only record and maintain their data but use it to measure the impact an organisation is having on the people they serve. An area often overlooked, the ability to report their impact can be vital to organisations that do good. When done well, this innocuous data can open doors to wider public exposure and countless funding opportunities.

The need for a platform such as Views became apparent to me 8 months prior to discovering Substance, I just didn’t know it. Whilst working on my Master programme I had the opportunity to work with a Los Angeles based adaptive sports organisation. My goal was to produce a report that highlighted sub-populations within Southern California’s physically disabled community who were being unrepresented in the organisations programming and events. For this to be successful, I first had to gain an understanding of Southern California’s physically disabled population. There was only one problem, no organisation who worked with people that fall into this group were recording data, never mind, measuring their impact on them. Throughout the summer, I had countless conversations with charities, adaptive sports organisations and even governmental departments, which ended with “Such a great idea, we just don’t have the data.” The more I have become aware of the Views platform, the more I see the need for it throughout organisation which is seeking to improve the lives of participants and wider communities.

So where do I come in? Well, as Marketing and Sales Assistant I am tasked with multiple roles. On one side, I look to build the awareness of Substance and the work we do, whilst simultaneously working with clients to identify their needs and match them to a product or service that would have a greatest impact. In many ways the opportunity to support and enhance not one but many organisations that do good, in a variety of social sectors is more than I could have hoped for.

It is fair to say that as a someone born and raised on a Bradford Council estate and first in my family to attend University, I am pleased with the position I now find myself in and yet the ambition that drove me towards sporting and academic achievement is still as strong as ever.