True Stories: Chris Buckman – Finding the right fit

I’ve had so many jobs in my lifetime that I’ve practically lost count. It took me awhile to find the perfect career, but now I know I’m in the right place.

After high school I entered into a 12 month traineeship in accounts. It wasn’t the job for me. I didn’t really want to spend most of my time in a file room. After the traineeship was up, I struggled to get a job, so I called on the help of a disability employment service since I have cerebral palsy. They helped me out and I got to try plenty of different things, but nothing felt like the perfect fit. By chance, the person managing my case was going on holidays and he got me in to fill in for him. It was great, helping people with a disability get jobs. When the case manager came back, I spent some time working at the local council, focusing on disability issues. Before long, the disability job service started to expand and I was offered a job there, finding placements for people with disabilities. I worked there for five years before I was ready for my next challenge.

That challenge happened to be at Challenge Community Services. I applied for and succeeded in getting the role managing the open employment  arm of the organisation, where I ran a small team and continued to help find people with a disability meaningful work.

I was always keen to learn something new, so when a role came up three years later managing Challenge’s business service department where people with disabilities worked in supported employment such as a recycling operation, timber workshop and ironing service, I went for it. After three years there, I started to feel stagnant again and I wanted a change. I left Challenge and went into aged care, but during my stint there, I realised I missed disability work.

This realisation set me back on my path and I was lucky enough to get a job back at Challenge as the Day Programs Manager, where I’d coordinate day programs and activities for our service users. Now I’m the General Manager, Northern Region, Client Services. It does mean that I have less direct contact with the clients, but it also means that I get to organise systems, deliver services in the right ways and establish new service areas therefore giving even more opportunities to people with a disability at Challenge.

It’s true, I have had many different roles in the care sector, and at Challenge. In my mind, it gives you a better picture of what the whole organisation is about. And considering that one day I hope to be the CEO of Challenge, I figure the more I know and understand, the better.

General Manager, Northern Region, Client Services
Challenge Community Services

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