My coaching journey


Getting from A to B

Think about the word coach and what this means. In the olden days, people would literally be transported via carriage from one place to another, often including an element of adventure. For me, coaching is about helping people get from A to B.

So what's my journey, and how did a working-class kid from a council estate in northern England become a coach to senior leaders and international executives? It's a question I'm often asked, and we are all shaped by the people we meet and the experiences we have. Here are a few of the people and events that have shaped my coaching journey.

Growing up: books, caring for others and a hunger for adventure

My parents didn't have much disposable income, yet there were always books in the house. These expanded my horizons, got me curious about the world around me and fed my thirst for adventure. My mum nursed terminal patients, and this gave me a value around caring for and supporting people.

Secondary school, being certain, Ramond Liu and the power of questions

Like most kids at secondary school, we were full of opinions and certainty, not listening to each other and over-eager to share or force our views on each other to bolster our fragile confidence. But one kid was different and blew my mind, Raymond Liu. He was less sure, more open to different views and multiple perspectives, and actually asked questions.

A summer in Liverpool and Mr Sedden the careers teacher

At 16, like many people, I had no idea what I wanted to do for a job. I didn't even know what a career was. Having spent the summer in Liverpool with an uncle who was a bricklayer, I told my careers teacher this was what I wanted to do. Mr Sedden kindly and patiently suggested heading to Technical College, which led to my first degree in construction.

Stockport College and an early experience of a high performing team

With a practical mindset and wanting to do something different to traditional A-levels, I headed off to Technical College. I loved the different styles of teaching, which was much more practical than theoretical, but I also reveled in the diversity of my classmates. From so many different backgrounds, we naturally and miraculously connected at a profound level. In addition, we had a shared aspiration to be the most successful cohort that the college had ever had. We pushed each other hard and supported each other when we were low or struggling and did go on to achieve the best results ever achieved at that stage in the college.

Construction technology and the light bulb of Leadership

I arrived at Sheffield Hallam University and eventually found the library rather than the wonderful bars and pubs of Sheffield. I slowly realised that I had yet to find my true professional passion. Until that is I met the first truly transformational character in the story of my coaching journey, a Senior lecturer called Paul Harding. Boom. Rather than talk about U values of walls or bending moments of steel beams, this guy taught us about psychology and leadership, and my whole world changed. I had several industrial placements in London, Barnsley & Wigan. I quickly realised that I was not remotely interested in how buildings were put together but absolutely fascinated by human behaviour and the wide range of leadership approaches (some more effective than others).

Wanting to work with people, an early career in HR and being part of a highly dysfunctional team

So this stage, I know that I really like and want to work with people, have a sense that I naturally get and understand folk, and all I need to do is find a job where these talents can come to the fore. This phase of my career involved working in a range of positions within HR and learning & development. Some teams I worked in were excellent, and some not so. It was with one of these less well functioning teams that I headed off into the English Lake District for my first ever team building programme. I loved it, and my eyes were opened to new possibilities. It was supposed to give the junior team members a massive boost in confidence - sadly, it didn't work. What became glaringly obvious to me was that no matter what we did as a team, our leader was simply not up to it. I didn't know what coaching was at the time, but instinctively I knew that this guy needed lots of support and someone to challenge and feedback things to him so he could realise his potential as a leader. Nevertheless, a seed had been planted, and a seminal moment in finding the true passion of my career had occurred.

Being bold and a novel about early Australian immigrants

There was one more step on my leadership journey yet to be completed. I wanted to work directly with my own clients, to decide the people and organisations I want to work with, the one's who like me, are committed to real change and not simply ticking boxes. To achieve this, I needed to set up my own business. But this was 2008, and the financial crisis was just breaking. Did I have the bravery on the strength of my own conviction to set up on my own? At the time, I was reading an amazing book by Kate Granville called The Secret River. It's a historical novel about an early 19th-century Englishman transported to Australia for theft and the subsequent life he built. If he could do this, I figured I could probably set up my own small and successful business. As they say, the rest is history……..

Get in touch today

+44(0)7595 166 104