Marcus Barber shares with us his story of discovering coaching and then becoming a professional coach.

I first came across coaching after a friend recommended a coach to help me change career. I had worked in executive search and recruitment for a number of years and had recently realised that I no longer enjoyed it. I spent a lot of time understanding what was most important to me and decided to change careers.

Discovering more

Working with a coach made things happen more quickly and run more smoothly. It also made me curious about coaching. I read several books, spoke to coaches and started mentoring for two organisations. By attending The Coaching Academy’s two day training I learnt the basics of coaching and found that I really enjoyed it.

I quickly realised that unlike some professions, anyone can call themselves a coach, whereas you need specific qualifications to call yourself a solicitor or doctor. However, like any profession, training and experience enable you to do your best work, have the biggest impact and be credible. I already had a lot of informal coaching experience and I wanted to build on this with formal training.

After researching several training organisations I decided to enroll on TCA’s Personal Performance diploma, their Corporate & Exec diploma and the CPD days in January 2013. I haven’t looked back since.

Key learning whilst qualifying

One of the most interesting things that I learnt is the power of values and beliefs. Beliefs shape everything from the way we interpret events to what we achieve. Some people believe that it isn’t possible to like (let alone love) work, and unsurprisingly they are unlikely to like work. Others believe that money is evil and this belief makes it likely that they’ll have little wealth.

The good news is that there are processes for changing beliefs. However, although simple, they aren’t quick-fixes.

Values also play a huge role in how much people enjoy their particular work and career. Conflicting personal values and the values of the organisation or line manager can cause a lot of unhappiness at work. This is a simple example, but if someone highly values fun and has a very serious workplace, they are unlikely to enjoy it.

The diplomas have helped me understand my values and to gradually replace several limiting beliefs with more resourceful ones. They have also equipped me to help clients do the same.

What I found most rewarding whilst qualifying

As TCA diplomas are very practical and involve completing a number of coaching sessions, it was great to be able to help a number of people whilst still qualifying. A highlight was helping one of my first ‘practise’ clients to secure a new career.


Like many people on TCA diploma’s, balancing a full-time role, a family and qualifying was a challenge. However, being short of time ensured that I was highly focused and that I prioritised effectively. I also looked for opportunities to develop and enhance skills, for example by practising ‘active listening’ when speaking to colleagues.

On to now

In January 2014 I started Inspiring Careers. My mission is to help people enjoy their careers more. I was fortunate to secure my first paying client quickly, which helped my belief and confidence in the business.

My niche is career coaching, particularly career change. This fits well with my recruitment and executive search experience. I see time and time again the huge impact that work and careers have on people’s lives, both for better and worse. This isn’t to say that changing career or role solves all problems, it doesn’t. However, there are more and less suited careers for different people. There are also more and less suited companies and roles.

Some clients I work with are unsure which career they want to pursue, although they know they want a change. Others are clear about what they want to do, but unsure how to get there. Others lack confidence to make changes or seek accountability to keep their change on track.

Whilst supporting clients to change career my work often focuses on changing beliefs or aligning values to their work. Sometimes changing beliefs and mindset is all that is needed to enjoy their career more and they chose to stay put.

I feel that I have tremendously benefited from TCA’s diplomas and support. I love what I am doing now, and have developed a lot personally.

Tips for aspiring coaches

  • If you haven’t already, try coaching at a TCA two day event.
  • To speed up your learning whilst qualifying, get a coaching buddy or join a coaching community.
  • Get yourself a coach – everyone has blind spots, and having someone to challenge these and push you is vital. I find it unusual when coaches won’t invest in coaching - what does that say about their belief in the profession?
  • Finally, do great work, even when qualifying so that clients recommend you.

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