How it all began? A casual conversation over coffee with a friend first got me thinking about learning to be a coach. My friend thought I would be good but advised me to get a 'proper' coaching qualification.

Being a qualified teacher with over 20 years’ experience in both teaching and developing syllabuses for international organisations wasn’t enough…as coaching had a different skill set. I got to work checking out some options for courses and I eventually decided upon the Coaching Academy’s Personal Performance Diploma sensing that I would gain the most benefit from this because of its practical focus.

At this stage, I hadn’t really thought about setting up my own coaching business but when I started ‘The Practicalities of Getting Going’ as a Coach module, it really got me thinking on a much bigger scale than I had originally imagined. Suddenly it wasn’t just about getting a qualification that I thought might help me to deliver my training interests but this could become an actual business – something I had always dreamed of doing but thought I couldn’t because I didn’t think I had the ‘business head’ to make a success of it.

My learning

I learnt so many things during the course. I gained a real understanding of the impact our thoughts have over the things we say, the way we interact with others and the decisions we make every day – basically, the way we live our lives! And we alone are responsible for that. From the moment I sat down to give careful consideration to the first exercise on ‘My ideal coaching client’, to starting to build a network of coaching client colleagues and later doing practice sessions, I started to realise the potential this qualification could really have. What’s more, I realised that my own way of thinking had held me back in the past and here was a chance to rethink the direction of my career. Grasping that was priceless and it gave me a real sense of focus.

What I enjoyed most

I enjoyed so many aspects of the training: the support you get from the team at The Coaching Academy, working with other trainee coaches…I loved the webinars, and found the ones covering the Coaching Process particularly useful for reviewing key concepts. I also liked the flexibility the course gives you to work on the modules when best suits you. However, I had to learn to manage my time well because that part wasn’t always easy for me! I was juggling work with studying too but in my role as ‘client’ for my fellow coaches, I was amazed at how quickly I was able to take action towards qualifying, which I did successfully in just 11 months.

What now?

Now I’m qualified and in the process of setting up my Academic Success Coaching business. I offer 3 services: coaching for university students around aspects of academic life such as time management, procrastination, confidence building, career options, relationships and healthy living. I also offer teaching for academic writing & speaking, university applications and job interviews and last but not least Intercultural Awareness Training! All services are available face-to-face and via Skype. Clients also ask me to combine teaching and coaching by booking a set of lessons and interspersing them with coaching sessions to keep them on track. A fabulous solution!

Over the next 2 years, I’m going to be focusing on building up my business through collaborating with fellow coaches and people in the field of higher education and getting involved in more conferences and seminars! I really enjoy the variety that comes with coaching. Recently, I met David Clutterbuck, a leading UK coach who was in Milan to speak about coaching and mentoring in education. It was interesting to observe how David uses coaching questions to involve his audience. My favourite coaching question is…”What might stop you?” This is challenging and really helps clients pause, think deeply and be realistic about the actions steps they can take forward in the short term.

Top tips

For anyone thinking about getting into coaching my top tip would be simply to get professionally qualified! To be taken seriously, that’s your foundation. Even if you don’t use your coaching knowledge to set up a business, the skills you learn are invaluable and can be used in any area from personal life to corporate life.

For anyone currently in training with The Coaching Academy I would say:

  • Plan your study programme from the outset, aiming to qualify by a specific date. You can always change it later but without a plan from the start, things can easily spiral out of control as you will probably be juggling a few things all at the same time.
  • Network. Network. Network. Without building a network of people, I believe it would be very difficult to make a success out of coaching.

For those about to qualify it’s important to not let all the hard work slip away! It would be easy to get overwhelmed with the daunting task ahead of marketing, finding clients and becoming known for your niche…letting it all slip away. I’ve taken The Coaching Academy’s Kris Robertson’s invaluable advice and got myself a coach to make sure that I keep myself accountable and moving forwards with my Academic Success Coaching business.


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