The 10 Year Challenge has recently been the subject of many memes and online gags – but for most of us in business today, making it to ten years is a significant achievement and worthy of celebration! If anyone had told me 11 years ago that I’d have my own business, I’d have laughed in their face! That’s because for me, the goal is not about having a business; it’s about being able to do work that I believe is impactful, rewarding and hopefully get paid a sustainable living from it. I love working with clients to solve problems and challenges and get different or more creative perspective on life and work – and I am endlessly fascinated with people and always aiming to learn more about us humans.
Back in 2009 when I first completed my coach training with the Irish Lifecoach Institute, I was in a bubble of positivity and enthusiasm – in spite of the looming recession. So looking back, probably not the best time to start a fledgling coaching business, but hey it was all about the “wisdom of uncertainty” back then, to quote Deepak Chopra! People I worked with in my previous roles in IT, Project Management and Consulting used to ask “Didn’t you work in IT? How did you end up doing this?”. My response was always that it might seem like a big leap from the outside, but for me it felt like a natural transition and progression – my work has always been about finding solutions, working through a process, facilitating people to implement change more effectively.
At that time while being widespread in the US, professional coaching wasn’t necessarily a well known discipline in Ireland and businesses weren’t aware of its potential for talent development. I decided to focus initially on Career Coaching, as it was fairly self explanatory, and many organisations were downsizing so people needed support in working on their personal brand, confidence and job search strategy to move into new roles or transition into other areas, in a challenging job market. Many of the clients I worked with then moved into senior roles in other organisations, and invited me in to continue to coach them and work with their teams.
Fast forward to 2019 and the world of coaching is increasingly growing here in Ireland and continues to develop worldwide. We now see government departments here in Ireland seeking executive coaching to help them to improve their performance, which is a positive sign, though like any culture change it will take time. So I’m fortunate to be working now with amazing new and long-standing clients in areas such as leadership development, team coaching and individual professional and career development coaching.
Things have come full circle too in many ways and I’ve found myself back working with project and change managers and their teams, but the lens this time is more about finding solutions help people connect, collaborate & communicate better, which helps them to be more resilient & agile; getting people working more effectively in teams is often more of a challenge than changing technical systems and processes.
The online world is a small one, and I’ve been delighted and surprised to be approached by clients based as far apart as Toronto and Sydney to work with them. For 2019 and beyond, my focus will be on expanding the team capability using trusted associates, and as I love to travel, hopefully to look for more opportunities to work with English-speaking leaders and teams overseas who want to learn how to thrive, and also to work with organisations who want to develop their in-house coaching capability and make coaching conversations part of how they do business. My themes for 2019 are “collaboration” and “experiments” so watch this space!
At the risk of sounding like an Oscars recipient… and not mentioning names as I don’t want to leave anyone out, I want to thank to all those who have supported me and given me opportunities over the past ten years; to work with clients in organisations like Intel, Kerry Group, AIB, Barnardos, the National Centre for Guidance in Education and many more.
I’m so grateful to coaches I’ve worked with who inspired me along the way and continue to do so; all of the coach tutoring team at the Irish Lifecoach Institute, and the coaching students on their programmes who are often the best teachers; fellow members of the International Coach Federation and the amazing coaches I’ve met from the faculties of Smurfit Business School, Trinity Business School and the IMI.
I have had fantastic support from a wide network of people but especially the brilliant women who are members of the Women In Business Network in Ireland and the UK – looking forward to lots of collaborations in the future!
For my family and friends, especially my now adult children who regularly ask, “how was your meeting today?” and my long suffering other half who thought I was bonkers (and still does) but supports me anyway ; thank you!
Here’s to the next ten years – by then who knows I may be coaching clients and their teams, using augmented reality or whatever mind-reading tech is available by then, from a beach on Mars… or getting back to that bubble, just sipping some bubbly somewhere exotic !
Keep an eye out for some of my top 10 “Lessons Learned” from the past ten years that I’ll be sharing over the coming months – challenges that most business owners and managers will recognise I’m sure… !