Thought Leadership
Prof Andrew George
Our partners share their career backgrounds and what brought them to coaching.

This week, Dr Andrew George describes how coaching is an integration of his professional life.

As an academic, my proudest achievements were the students that I helped. I keep on my bookshelves the theses of all my PhD and MSc students, and often I look at them and remember the individuals, the difficult patches in their studies, the highs that we experienced and the change that happened to them. For me, helping people achieve their ambitions has always been key to my professional life.

Over time I moved to having more management and leadership responsibilities. That changed the dynamic and I found (and continue to find) great satisfaction in ensuring that institutions and systems are successful at developing students and staff. But I also found satisfaction in helping individuals, both in terms of having and implementing their ideas and in getting on in life.

I left full time academic employment in 2018 and decided to offer myself as a coach. I looked for a training course, and with my background in science and education I wanted to have an education that did more than just train me to be a competent practitioner but which also gave me the intellectual underpinning to the subject. I therefore decided to do the MSc at Henley Business School.

Since that time I have coached many different clients from a wide range of areas, including universities, NHS, business and the charitable sector. It has been an immense privilege to work with leaders and help them develop their purpose and how best to achieve it. The course at Henley is different from some in providing training in an eclectic range of different approaches and techniques, rather than a fixed approach. This has given me a large tool bag that I can bring to my sessions with clients.
Coaching is only part of my professional life. I continue to do research, to hold leadership roles in Higher and Further Education, the NHS and medical charities. This is important for me, as I find that they enrich my coaching and ground my conversations in the reality of strategic and operational delivery.

I have also developed through my MSc a research interest in professional and personal development and have published in this area. In particular I have been working to understand how an understanding of moral purpose and character than help professionals reflect on what they do. This research informs, and is informed by, my practice as a coach and a leader.

So for me coaching is a rich part of my life, that is integrated in my background as a researcher, academic, leader and someone who wants people to be the best that they can be.

Next time, Steve Ludlow talks about his journey to coaching.
Dr. Susan Rose
Second in our series on how Essentic HE partners came to coaching.

This week, Dr Susan Rose reflects on the question "Why do I coach?" From a way of being to a leadership skill, Susan describes her growing interest in and use of coaching in the 2000s to her current passion for supporting women leaders.

Self-reflection is a useful and intriguing exercise. Something that coaching should trigger. So writing about how I got into coaching is an opportunity for a bit of my own personal reflection and insight. Why do I coach and how did it all get started?

I first became aware of coaching as a practice when working at Henley Business School in the early 2000s. It was a new and young discipline at that time, and I was fortunate enough to know and work with Dr Patricia Bossons who first introduced coaching at Henley. Alongside Patricia worked others in her team (notably the wonderful Alison Hardingham and Denis Sartain) and I noticed a few things about these people. First that they appeared to me to be very grounded, in control of their own feelings and responses and very effective communicators. They radiated serenity and were clearly comfortable in their own skins. There had to be something in this thing called coaching! I explored it more and in 2010 took the Henley Professional Certificate in Coaching course to learn and develop my knowledge and skills.

During my career at Henley I applied my coaching predominantly as a leadership skill while I held senior roles at the business school that required me to build and develop teams. Coaching is a process of working alongside someone, supporting that individual to progress and move forward and often make change happen. It is particularly helpful to individual performance development but also when building teams. During this time, I was responsible for leading a multi-cultural team overseas at a new university campus in Malaysia and was able to apply my coaching skills in what was a start-up situation. I used coaching in a number of ways – to support induction of new staff; performance development; dispute resolution; team building; as well as my interactions with other senior leaders.

By 2019 I was looking for a new focus in my life that would complement my work in business education and also leverage my coaching experience. I obtained my International Coaching Federation (ICF) accreditation and launched my own coaching practice with an objective to share my leadership experiences with others. I have a particular focus on coaching women in mid to senior level roles. This is because I have stood in their shoes and have personal experience of being a female leader. Now in 2022 I partner with my colleagues at Essentic HE to combine my coaching skills and senior HE leadership experience as a specialist offer.

I am a coach because I firmly believe in the effectiveness of coaching and the importance of supporting others. Coaching is now an accepted and much used developmental intervention that can be effective in both the corporate world, the professions such as academia, and in people’s personal lives. For leaders it provides the basis for self-reflection and personal insights that help us build our values and capabilities as we navigate change.


Andrew George will share his reflections on becoming a coach next time.

Powerful people delivered