Role: Head of Academy of Executive Coaching, Ireland
Company: Academy of Executive Coaching
What does your job entail?
I am an Executive Coach; I coach business leaders and have also been a Business Psychologist for over 25 years. Latterly I’ve been training other coaches and providing them with professional supervision.
Is it 9-5?
Errr….no! it is very much client-led, but I am getting better at managing non-client time! Work-life balance is so important in today’s world and as an Executive Coach – often supporting leaders to find their own work-life balance – I need to model that!
How did you get into this line of work?
I stumbled across Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast and I was smitten. I went straight on to do a Masters in Occupational Psychology in Cardiff, which led to my first job as a trainee Occupational Psychologist in London.
Outline your career to date?
For the first ten years, I worked within organisations as an internal consultant /psychologist /manager; firstly with The Post Office and then BBC Television in London. London was a wonderful experience and training ground, but the big smoke wasn’t for me and I was delighted when I landed a job in Scotland, with the Scottish Prison Service. I worked there for several years before leaving to set up my own business as a consultant and coach. I loved the variety of consultancy work – the privilege of interacting with all types of organisation, public, private, not-for-profit, in Scotland and more widely across the UK. I’ve now been with Taylor Clarke, a boutique consultancy based in Glasgow, for around ten years. In my time there, I have worked with clients all over the world – including from Dubai, the US, Australia, and Nigeria. My work has involved designing and running leadership programmes, and consulting on change management projects within organisations as well as providing 1-1 coaching, team facilitation and coach training. I set up our Ireland office a few years ago, based in Dublin, but with a lot of activity happening in N. Ireland. As part of my role, I head up the Academy of Executive Coaching (AoEC) in Ireland – running certificated coach training programmes for executive coaches.
Tell us about your qualifications/training.
I have a BSc in Psychology from Queen’s and an MSc in Psychology (Applied) from Cardiff. I became Chartered as an Occupational Psychologist by the British Psychological Society in 1995. I also went on to train as a Psychotherapist in the mid 90’s and did that in tandem with my consultancy role for 10 years; this was through the Transactional Analysis School of Psychotherapy. Being a psychologist, I have trained in many psychometrics, too many to mention! But they include: MBTI, Hogan and the Denison Leadership Development Survey (360° tool). I have a Postgraduate Certificate in Executive Coaching from Strathclyde University Business School and a Postgraduate Diploma in Coaching Supervision from CSA (Coaching Supervision Academy).
What qualities are required for your job – personal and professional?
As a Coach and a trainer of Coaches, qualities such as self-awareness, empathy, the ability to truly listen and listen at a deep level, are all important. Assuredness and being grounded are also important. Coaches need to be open, honest, transparent, and ‘real’ with their clients, so these qualities are super important! It’s also really important to understand ‘the world’ of leaders, how organisations work, the complexity of human systems, the barriers to change and the enablers of change. And finally, I would say, the ability to facilitate others is an important skill – whether in a group, or 1-1; to encourage people to say what they are thinking, to notice where they’re at, and to be able to gently challenge, in the spirit of deepening others’ learning.
What are the biggest challenges and rewards of your work?
There are huge rewards in my work – probably a bit like being a parent (I’m not) – to see others grow, achieve something they didn’t think they could, overcome something that was stressing them/challenging them/causing them angst. It’s a privilege to be able to step into organisations, and be trusted to help. Challenges? Probably similar to a lot of people – the resilience to keep going when we’re tired, when things are difficult; perseverance and belief that ‘this will come to fruition’ or ‘this will work out’.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I am very fortunate to live in beautiful, rugged west Cork, on a mountainous peninsula on the Atlantic, with my husband, two dogs and small herd of pygmy goats. When I can, I get out every day for a long walk with our dogs – a Scottish Border Terrier and a lurcher. The walk clears my head, and is a much-needed antidote to a sedentary job. I have become really interested in mindfulness and yoga over the past couple of years, and take classes in these as well as build them in to my daily routine. And I adore cooking! It’s probably another antidote to my work – doing something very practical, with my hands, with a very tangible outcome!
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
On a leadership development course, I was once told by my colleagues that I was like a lioness: fiercely protective of my ‘cubs’ (aka those I have some responsibility for – be they those I manage, train or coach). Loyalty is a big value of mine.
Who has inspired you most in your life?
It’s impossible to single out one person! There are so many people who have inspired me, guided me, helped me, shown me the way, given me courage to ‘go for it’ – my parents, managers I’ve had, trainers, supervisors, mentors. I’m grateful to them all.
The AoEC’s Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching is now taking applications for the next intake, which begins on 4 October. For more details about the course programme, entry requirements and how to apply follow the link below: