How did I get here?
The start: teaching in Sudan
My working career began when I taught in a boys high school in South Darfur, Sudan. The classrooms were packed with up to fifty village boys, and far fewer books, all trying to make sense of George Bernard Shaw! I used resourcefulness and creativity to enjoy the adventure.
Moving on, I joined ActionAid’s work in Kordofan, Sudan. By then I was 27 and my work was to lead a small, multi-sector team. We designed and delivered projects to communities affected by drought and famine. The experience was a valuable immersion in leadership in an uncertain environment.
Finally, civil war and political change forced the end of the project. I took with me strong memories of the extraordinary resilience of communities in times of great uncertainty.
Later, in Nigeria, I was director of VSO. We faced a problem of volunteer leaving early. This represented a lose-lose. Volunteers and employers were disappointed, the organisation’s reputation suffered and costs increased. We found that the primary reason lay in being able to give meaning and a sense of achievement in a new and sometime difficult context. Together with my team, I devised a simple performance management process. It was used by the volunteers, their employers and my team to recognise the small, as well as big differences they were making. Over time, we saw the rates and engagement improve significantly: result! There is no question about the critical relationship between purpose and motivation in driving performance.
Resourcefulness and resilience
The sum of my experiences have taught me to believe in the resourcefulness, generosity and resilience that lies in everyone. This view has been repeatedly confirmed in some extraordinary contexts and with some extraordinary people and organisations. These include Oxfam, CARE and Save the Children for whom I have led and managed large and diverse teams in more than ten countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe.
While working, I have continued my own development learning. I have an MSc in Strategic Human Resource Management from Manchester Uni, and I am a trained coach with Co-Active Coaching and The Coaching Academy and an NLP practitioner.
I was Plan International Director of People and Culture when my interest in coaching for performance transformation really took shape. I benefitted from a coach who supported increased satisfaction and performance can be unlocked using questions in a simple and yet powerful way.
“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It’s helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” _Tim Gallwey
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