What I’m Currently Doing
I run my own company as a leadership coach and a professional facilitator, and I teach in the Business School at Oxford Brookes University as an Associate Lecturer. I am also mummy to Nina, our very busy toddler, and wife to Dimitri, a clinical psychologist in the NHS. I have over 1600 hours of coaching experience with leaders from all walks of life, and I still learn every day. My clients all share a desire to make an impact that is bigger than themselves, and to become better at building powerful relationships with those they lead. I want them to become the kinds of leaders that people follow even when they’re not being paid to, so I help them to learn how to coach themselves, and how to coach their teams.
It is no exaggeration to say that I love what I do. Being able to influence not just one person, but the lives of everyone they lead, is a huge privilege, and I do my job as much for the person that I coach, as for the people who they in turn are developing. I care deeply about equality of opportunity and I lived in West Africa, where the frequent absence of that angered me daily. As the first in my family to attend university, I know that we have a lot to do to level the playing field, both to encourage people to believe that they can play on it and convince others that those people have a right to.
Beyond work, I am a Director of Oxfordshire Business First, helping business people to share skills and resources for free, and to engage more with the local community. I am also a Trustee of the Friends of St Joseph’s School for the Hearing Impaired, the only specialist school for deaf children in the north of Sierra Leone. I am a pro bono coach to Rising Academies, an innovative schools’ business that is addressing the chronic state of education in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
I have always been interested in the way in which our global lives intersect and how we go about fixing fundamental problems rather than tinkering around their edges. I spent the first twelve years of my career in and around the humanitarian sector, first at head office level in various corporate fundraising roles for Save the Children, and then in West Africa working as staff, consultant and then supplier to the big international organisations and UN agencies.
My passion has always been business however, for the possibility that entrepreneurs have to solve the issues that they see in the world around them. I believe that business and charity don’t need to be so different, and that we should all be leaning into the issues that we face as a planet and a species.
Responsibility is really important to me and I spent seven years in Sierra Leone, where I felt compelled to build a business as a means of creating jobs and addressing a need but also, of demonstrating that business could be a force for good. I built a creative agency from my kitchen table, which went on to become a thriving office serving clients on three continents. I felt deeply motivated by the desire to see this post-conflict country more accurately portrayed by people who understood it and had the professional skills to bring that understanding to life. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we were the first of our kind in Freetown! The challenge of making that work was also hugely exciting and taught me a lot about how to develop resilience. My team comprised post-grads and those who had barely attended secondary school, so I had to learn to lead authentically, and I discovered how useful a strong moral compass can be. I learned a tremendous amount from my staff, that I apply today in my leadership work.
For the past five years I have worked as a Professional Certified Coach, accredited by the International Coach Federation, and as a Licensed Practitioner of the Insights Discovery psychometric model. I have also worked as a trainer to Escape the City, helping young professionals move into more meaningful work, and as an associate to several coaching companies. In addition to corporate coaching, I have a strong public and humanitarian sector practice. I coached many members of the Africa Governance Initiative team, notably those in West Africa during the Ebola crisis, and have coached for the Care Quality Commission, The British Council and Medicins San Frontieres among others.
What Interests and Excites Me
I am drawn to the big world challenges from climate change to the automation of our jobs to the youth dividend in the developing world. We cannot ignore the need for an empowered, upskilled, more connected planet in which everyone plays a role.
While the change ahead is often positioned as a nightmare, I would rather look for the potential dream, and for me that’s the opportunities for innovation that all of these problems create. Foremost of these is the chance for all of us who lead to really stretch our ability to develop others, to give them the confidence to believe that they can contribute and move with the world as it changes, not be left behind.Empowerment is the other side of the coin from responsibility, because until we can say “I can” we can’t next say “I will”. If we want everyone to take part in creating a more sustainable, inclusive world, we need to start by helping everyone to believe they can.