Practitioner Diploma / “This coaching training has been a powerful life changing event!“

20th May by Lee Robertson

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We are delighted this month to throw the spotlight on Araceli Canedo Bebbington who started her coach training journey with the AoEC’s Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching. After 25 years of working in large organisations, Araceli has launched her own practice. Here she shares her experience of switching careers to becoming a full-time, accredited executive coach.

You have close to 25 years of experience in successfully driving change in large organisations such as UBS and Credit Suisse. Who or what inspired you to sign up for coach training with the AoEC?

Helping people to embrace change and to grow has been a key driver in my career and the various leadership roles I have held have given me a great opportunity in this regard.

I started a self-reflection journey about my purpose in life and what brings me energy and happiness two years ago when I joined a leadership training programme. It was at that point, when I became more curious about exploring executive coaching as an opportunity to become a stronger leader and in the longer-term, to build a different career path.

I have been exposed to executive coaching myself and in fact, it was one of the coaches with whom I worked with that recommended the AoEC training to me… thank you David!

What were some of the positives and challenges you experienced while doing the diploma?

I will start with the challenges first…   I had to “unlearn” some of my skills, e.g. after holding leadership positions for many years, I had to learn that the coaching client is in the leading seat to solve the problem and drive the agenda while I will firmly hold the process to get there.

Being an extrovert, I also had to “unlearn” the need to fill up silences because what is not said can matter far more than what is said!

In terms of positives, I very quickly started to realise that the coaching training as well as the ongoing coaching with practice clients was bringing me a huge amount of positive energy.

Also, one of my “aha” moments was when I realised that there is a strong connection between my transformational roles along my career and my coaching journey. As a coach, I see myself as a change agent transforming my client… and what is more powerful than making a difference in people’s lives?

Looking back at doing your diploma, what has been its impact on you?

This coaching training has been a powerful life changing event!

It has been an incredibly valuable experience which has enabled me to further reconnect with Who I Am and my purpose in life to the point that I have decided to leave the corporate world and set up my own business.

This is a very fresh decision and by no means was it an easy one!

But over time I started to realise that executive coaching is a very enriching and empowering journey and I feel so rewarded by having the opportunity to co-create lasting change with my clients and getting them to have a more fulfilling life.

Equally, being a role model has been a key driver in my life and at some point, after coaching so many clients looking for a career change, I felt I needed to take the leap myself and legitimately support others to do the same… and here I am!

Can you tell us about your journey from completing your executive coach training with AoEC to launching your own coaching business?

Since I completed the coach training my top priority has been simply… practice, practice and practice!

Being active in LinkedIn (where I posted for the first time three months ago!) and leverage my network has helped me to find new practice clients. I also launched my (very basic) website and have joined different networks to learn from well-established coaches and to equally find potential future clients.

In addition, I carried on with my continuous learning by doing a lot of reading and by embarking on the next level of training. A few weeks ago, I started the AoEC’s Professional Practitioner Diploma and so far, it has been great!

While I haven’t yet fully launched my coaching business, I am right now working on all the foundational steps (e.g. setting up my own company, drafting my business plan, etc.) and taking time to experiment through my ongoing practice.

How have the skills and knowledge gained from our training programme contributed to your success as an executive coach?

On one side, the coach training gave me the opportunity to improve my coaching skills through continuous practicing and mentoring. I got better at letting go and at being present and dancing with the flow, I also learned the importance of contracting (including nailing down clear goals up front) and of reminding myself that people are naturally resourceful.  

I started immediately to further embed those coaching skills in my day-to-day job at the time (e.g. in the way I ran career development discussions with my team members). I am convinced that coaching is a critical skillset that every leader should be equipped with!

On the other hand, the programme also gave me the opportunity to learn a huge amount about coaching models, processes and techniques which have had a key influence in framing my own coaching signature.

What is the coaching model or methodology you bring to your coaching practice that sets you apart from others in the field?

My coaching signature is “Power of Change… Coaching with the Flow”.  I believe in coaching as a co-created flowing dance where I empower my partners to change over time and unlock their own potential.

The Co-Active model is the philosophy underpinning my way of coaching. First, I believe in the principle of “we are in this together” which historically has also been my leadership motto with my teams!

Secondly, while I coach, I try my best to remain loyal to the four Co-Active cornerstones, i.e. I believe in empowerment and as such in my clients being naturally resourceful, I focus on the whole person, I am present and dance in the moment, finally I evoke and encourage transformation.

I believe that what makes me unique is the fact that I am a certified executive coach and equally an experienced corporate leader in driving change and leading large global teams. I have been told by my clients that my coaching strengths lie in my ability to show empathy (while challenging with respect) and in my extensive experience in the corporate environment… I have been there!

Can you tell us about the type of clients you are working with and what sort of issues and opportunities you coach people around?

Given my career background my clients come primarily from the financial sector, but I am also working with some clients from other sectors like fintech and health care. What my clients have mostly in common is the fact that they are in senior positions in large corporations.

My focus is primarily on leadership coaching and career coaching so the type of challenges I am helping my clients with are around improving their leadership skills and helping them to successfully navigate mid-life career changes. It can go from boosting their self-confidence and authenticity when embracing a new senior role to overcoming the fear of change when facing a career change.

Deep diving into these challenges creates a fantastic opportunity to bring a higher level of awareness on what is holding my clients back (fears, limiting beliefs, etc.) and what do they really, really, really want based on their values and purpose in life.

Comfort is the enemy of growth and I like to empower my clients to dream big. In fact, one of my coaching clients recently told me that she found our coaching session “liberating” as she never dared before to contemplate a dream job!

You have gone onto be accredited with the EMCC. Why was becoming accredited important to?

Yes, I am accredited with the EMCC, and I am currently pursuing the ICF accreditation.

For me accreditation is important at various levels. It demonstrates that I am serious about my own development as a coach and that I remain committed to build on the highest standards.

Secondly, I understand that accreditation is a pre-requisite to work with many large organisations and this is a path I am looking to pursue in the future.

Can you share a success story or testimonial from one of your clients that highlights the impact of your coaching?

I helped one of my clients to successfully navigate a career transition when she left her company and was looking for a new and more senior opportunity.

I was her personal champion during this period, and we worked together in strongly positioning herself for the next move without compromising on her expectations (e.g. seniority of the role, financial reward, etc.) and key values (like work-life balance).

During our coaching engagement she successfully secured a more senior and exciting role and in her words: “I really enjoyed the discussion style of our coaching sessions, the flow was very natural, yet thought provoking and insightful; you were grounded and supportive”.

One of my key coaching principles is to show empathy and support while equally challenge… and she appreciated this balancing act!

What do you find most rewarding about your work as a coach?

Firstly, I feel very humbled by the level of disclosure I am getting from my clients as this is clearly a sign of trust.

I also find it hugely rewarding when my clients leave our sessions energised and with more insight about what to do next. One of my first clients brought up: “I really feel more courageous because of our interactions” … these words still resonate with me as I can truly feel I am helping others to craft a more fulfilling life!

Being able to create a positive impact on the world is by far the most rewarding aspect of my coaching journey… yes, every time I coach, I feel I change the world!

Our deepest gratitude to Araceli for sharing her personal journey and experience of coach training at the AoEC.