I’m a fully trained coach, an Associate Lecturer in the Business School at Oxford Brookes University, and an armchair behavioural economist.
I live in Oxford, where I am mummy to Nina, wife to Dimitri, a sleep specialist, and ear-scratcher-in-chief to Sylvia, our dog.
As humans, we have enormous potential, and yet all too often we are putting it to work in ways that make us unhappy, and on consumption that is devastating our planet. I’ve been quietly questioning the way we live since I left university, some twenty years ago, when I wanted a job that raised horizons as well as money. As we now face down the need to mitigate and adapt to climate change, we are finally able to say out loud that perhaps we need a new system, in which growth is a by-product not a goal in itself, and in which the things that truly matter, our human relationships and the health of our planet, are put centre stage.
The challenge ahead requires us to step into a new world. Yet it can be hard to pioneer and easy to be discouraged. That’s where I come in. I’m optimistic about our future. I want us all to feel less fearful and more empowered to act.
I know how hard it is to break free of the herd and do something different. I spent the beginning of my career working in a traditional, multi-national organisation, fundraising for Save the Children. I left their comfortable head office behind because I yearned for more creativity, autonomy and, perhaps surprisingly, a greater sense of purpose. Instead, I built a creative agency from the ground up, in the extremely challenging but endlessly rewarding West African country of Sierra Leone. Perhaps I don’t make things easy for myself! However, the lack of infrastructure aside, Sierra Leone had a spirit of problem-solving and a culture of building trusting relationships that was inspiring.
I believe that entrepreneurship and business can improve the way we live and create jobs that give people meaning and choice. And I believe that that’s achievable with profits and without abandoning our ethics. I know it’s possible because I did it myself, building a business that was intertwined with the lives of its staff and its community; helping each other through a cholera epidemic among other things. Having integrity didn’t stop us being successful, and my team and I built a company that worked with clients on three continents, including the UN, Oxfam and British Airways.
WHY I BECAME A COACH
When I ran my business, I realized that more often than not, lack of confidence, not lack of imagination or responsibility, is what holds us back from taking action. I coached staff who were barely literate and lacking in self-belief to become office managers and to take pride in their jobs. As a consultant to many of the biggest names in development, I also saw that the difference between a project succeeding and failing was due to the courage of its leaders, not the amount of money at its disposal. I learned that courage and leadership were the keys to creating big change.
That was an itch I had to scratch, and for the last six years I’ve been privileged to help people who love a challenge, from all over the world, at all stages, from the originator of a nascent idea to a retiring CEO. I work with people who want to do the decent thing, not the thing they can get away with; and who can’t live without a sense of purpose.
I want to create a world that we can all be proud to hand on. When I rock my daughter to sleep at night, I silently promise that I will make the world a better place. We know that our climate is changing, and that social inequality is tearing holes in the fabric of our global society. We know that one won’t be solved without the other. And because we know, and because I am as stubborn as I am responsible, I can’t walk away from that promise. I suspect that you can’t either.