Having spent the last decade working in banking and finance, I always felt that I wasn't really doing what I was supposed to do in life. I constantly had side interests, such as being a Special Constable with the MET police, then becoming a listening volunteer with the Samaritans. However, it was attending the TCA's Foundation weekend that truly set me on the right path. I signed up there and then to be a Protege Student.
Within a year of that initial 2-Day weekend, I found myself with a coaching contract for a team within a global bank. It started with a 3-month trial where I was coaching 8 managers who formed the leadership team for that department. Then 3 months turned into well over a year! The opportunity grew as well, I ended up helping the leaders create a united vision for their team, running problem-solving workshops, designing and facilitating off-sites and running fortnightly ‘lunch and learn’ sessions on coaching topics to the wider team.
What was the most rewarding part of your training/journey?
A couple of things jump to mind. Firstly, the Accelerator days! I came away from each one inspired and full of energy. I always had ideas on how to improve myself as well as what I could do to improve my coaching practice. The second thing was witnessing practice clients make real changes and progress towards their goals. That's when you realise, this coaching thing is actually so powerful!
How did you fit coach training into your busy life?
I initially tried to balance work and study but for me, I found I wasn’t able to give coaching the focus I wanted, so I decided to quit work and just go for it. I know this isn’t the route for everyone but knew that’s how I needed to do it for me. I was in for a penny, in for a pound!
Where are you now? How are you using your coaching skills?
Now I'm running my own coaching business called 'and yet...' I've been working with a variety of clients - some big corporate names as well as individuals. A surprising aspect has been that in addition to coaching, I've created and delivered workshops to different companies. I never expected I'd be doing this but I realised through coaching individuals and leaders, there are often common themes so I designed workshops to address these head on. It's great because with workshops, you can reach and support more people and I also think it's really beneficial for people to discuss their challenges together. It emphasises that we're all only human and often struggling with similar things!
What is your coaching niche and why did you choose it?
If I'm honest, I'm not sure I've truly defined this yet. It does tend to be professionals. I started more within the corporate world but it's now evolving towards entrepreneurs and start-ups. I'm studying the TCA Small Business Coaching Diploma now which is helping me realise that I think this might be the niche for me given my background in business. One thing that really helped me was when one of my coaches said, 'let your niche find you'. It's so true, especially in the beginning when you don't yet know what you're going to enjoy, it's useful to try different things and see what works for you. It takes the pressure off!
The message I would want to give other students is; this first contract came about from a conversation with a stranger at a friend's work leaving do! I was just speaking passionately about coaching and what I wanted to do with it. The person I was speaking to just happened to be a senior manager at a global bank who was very interested in doing something different to develop his team. It was completely fortuitous that we met.
My advice to other students would be twofold:
• Talk as much as you can about what you are doing with coaching and why. I’ve found that this passion rubs off on people and they come up with ideas for you as to where they can see coaching helping them/their business.
• Don't spend too much time worrying exactly how your coaching business will take off - I could never have foreseen that I would get such a big contract over a conversation in a pub! I hold on to the mantra ‘just stay in the game’ whenever I feel shaky and under-confident about the business. Opportunities have presented themselves when and where I least expect – I’m also learning to trust my intuition about who to contact and when.
My business is growing and I find that I am pushing myself into new industries and companies. The more I talk about coaching, the more I find people are fascinated and want to try it for themselves or in their workplaces. It feels like such an opportune time to be developing as a Coach!
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