Ask any coach what drew them to the profession and you’ll receive a myriad of answers. However, there is likely to be one common motivation: a desire to help and be of service to others. This has been a key driver of my career path. Starting out in the tech sector, I quickly realised that I needed to be part of something that impacted the greater good of society. Somewhat by chance rather than design, I found myself working in a small team in the new field of higher education fundraising. I discovered my niche, working with like-minded colleagues who were similarly driven by the mission of universities! I was contributing to something that positively influenced peoples’ lives through education and research.
The 30-year career that followed took me from the University of Bristol and across the Atlantic twice, first to the University of California, Berkeley and then to the University of Cambridge. I feel fortunate to have worked in a field that has provided me with many opportunities to experiment, innovate, learn and develop. However, several years ago, a pivotal moment occurred as I became aware that there was something missing in my work. Reflecting on my career highlights, I realised that, while I gain the greatest sense of fulfilment in aiding others to learn, grow and reach their greater potential, I had hit a plateau in my own learning.
Deciding to train as a coach was a natural progression from the mentoring and coaching I had done throughout my career, formalising the knowledge gained from managing and leading large teams and combining this with my passion for helping others. It was daunting to join a Masters programme and realise how much I had yet to learn. My curiosity was stimulated by the theory, practice and evidence-base of coaching. I have become fascinated by the complexity of human behaviour and our interactions with each other, and how the seeming simplicity of a coaching conversation helps individuals to gain greater clarity. It’s a privilege to experience a client’s process of change.
Coaching fulfils my need to be of service to others, while working with individuals within higher education, the not-for-profit and other mission-based organisations, strengthens the sectors to which I have dedicated my career. And, my own learning journey continues apace. I look forward to this being a life-long process.