Practitioner Diploma / "The rewards come from the client"

22nd June by Lee Robertson

Reading time 7 minutes

Share this article:

Twitter LinkedIn
Sam Redman Executive Coach

Sam Redman completed the AoEC’s Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching before going on to set up her own coaching practice after a long career with Pret a Manger. Here, she gives us a candid insight into her personal coaching model and shares her journey to becoming a professional coach.

You have a strong professional background of learning and development management in the hospitality and foodservice industry. What introduced you to coaching and led to you signing up for the Practitioner Diploma course?

In my role at Pret I led the agenda on leadership development for over 10 years. As part of my professional development I became an NLP and an Insights Discovery practitioner. These two courses started my journey into the world of coaching.

In my time at Pret I developed a series of in-house Talent Programmes to help individuals unlock their potential and provide a talent pipeline for the future growth of the business. Over 100 people graduated from these programmes and I was left inspired by watching the participants grow, develop, break down the boundaries that had been holding them back and seeing them progress into the careers that they had dreamt of. 

Around three years ago, in an appraisal conversation with the director of people, we discussed my future career aspirations and what I envisaged as my next role. Her advice was that I could either step up into a more senior role, which would take me away from the part of the job that I loved, coaching and developing people, or I could choose to specialise. And I chose the latter. I enrolled on the AoEC Practitioner Diploma and four months after graduating I left Pret to set up my own practice.

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

The overwhelming positive for me was the support and expertise of the facilitators. I’d like to mention Karen Smart in particular. On our Zoom calls, between the classroom sessions, she really challenged me to bring my whole self to the programme and challenge the “perfectionism” that I had been trying to achieve. 

I found making enough time to really make the most of the programme tricky. I was luckier than others in that my employer allocated study time for all of the programme elements however, there is more to it than the classroom, webinars, practice clients and zoom calls. I found that the reflection time and deep thinking were as consuming as the rest of the programme. All very worthwhile though.

What would be your top piece of advice for anyone thinking about doing a professional coach training programme?

Really commit to it. If you want to become an accredited coach you should be prepared to bring your whole self to the programme and make the necessary time to do that. It is such a rewarding experience.

What personal qualities and values do you bring to your coaching work?

I’m really passionate about bringing honesty and challenge into my coaching conversations. I trust that my clients are absolutely capable of achieving their goals and my role is to give them the power to do that and often more than they initially thought they wanted. 

Can you tell us more about your personal coaching model and how has this evolved since completing the diploma?

The coaching model that I developed through the course was quite complex. When I presented it with my personal story it made sense to the audience at my graduation however, when I started to market my practice I found it difficult to convey my coaching approach in a way that potential clients would understand quickly.

I also wanted to work with organisations that had a specific people focused development objectives that they wanted support with.

I therefore simplified my message to Explore-Change-Fulfil and developed the steps of my coaching model to mirror the layout of a compass:

The core elements of my model that I developed at the AoEC remain the same and sit within this amended model.

After nearly 12 years with Pret A Manger you left to set up your own coaching practice. Can you tell us about your experience in setting up your own coaching business and the type of clients you are working with?

When I was making the decision to leave Pret I was quite clear on who I was as a coach however, I had no idea how to set a business up! I reached out to my coaching network and was recommended a business coach and that was so helpful. It was, by working with that coach, that I started to simplify my marketing message and identified who I wanted to share my offer with.

Having a business coach and being part of a coaching network has provided a sounding board that I have found priceless. Running your own business can be quite lonely at times particularly as I had been used to working in a social environment in my professional career. With the additional constraints of the lockdown measures brought about by the COVID 19 pandemic I have found it tempting to let imposter syndrome and procrastination take over. 

My network has been pivotal in keeping my practice evolving and overcoming those difficult days.

The clients I work with are wide and varied. The majority of my one-to-one clients tend to be senior leaders in organisations that are at a crossroads in their career.

My corporate work has included delivering key notes to over 300 retail leaders, webinars to over 200 people, articles, podcasts and being appointed programme director for the OSS Retail Academy at the British Retail Consortium.

What are some of the issues you coach people around?

For one-to-one clients, initially the agenda tends to be around wanting a career change, transitioning due to a recent promotion or wanting to prepare for a more senior role.

My one-to-one coaching programmes provide support to individuals at pivotal points in their professional lives. I help clients crystallise their goals and shift their mindset to achieve them.

In my work for corporate clients, I design and run learning and development programmes tailored for organisation’s culture and business objectives. As an example, I have been working with the British Retail Consortium recently and have developed a series of five webinars focussing on personal recovery and discovery in response to the COVID 19 pandemic. These webinars have created a community of retail leaders that collaborate and share their experiences and thoughts of how they have been personally and professionally impacted by the pandemic. The power of these webinars has been the smaller break out discussion groups where participants have been able to openly share their reactions, learnings and fears.

What kind of impact is coaching having on the individuals and organisations you are working with?

I’ll share a couple of testimonials from my clients to answer this one:

“Sam is a very knowledgeable coach who is able to unblock stops that prevent you excelling, as well as guiding you to self-confidence and motivation when seeking career development. A coach who hears where your true accelerators are and helps you to unlock your full potential.” - Senior Operations Manager-Retail

“Right from the start, I had great confidence that you would deliver to a very high standard thanks to your organised, structured, thorough and reassuring style. It really felt like a collaborative process as you were very responsive to the brief, but also added a lot of value to help shape and enhance it. I also have to comment on how unflappable you were when the evening masterclasses we had scheduled were cancelled due to Covid-19 – you re-shaped the content into 2 great webinars! In summary it was a pleasure working with you!" - IGD

Whilst respecting confidentiality, can you tell us about a coaching situation that had an impact on you?

It took me a while to answer this as each of my clients has had some form of impact on me. I work collaboratively and often a client will pose a question during a session that provokes reflective thinking afterwards. 

I worked with a client recently who was looking to change career. During the exploration phase of our relationship it emerged that they had been experiencing discriminatory bullying in their current workplace.  The agenda quickly shifted from being about career change and into recovery, acceptance and healing. I am pleased to share that the client is in a much better place now. They have left the business, have two job offers on the table and more personally, have lost weight and reinvested in their hobbies and interests. 

Here is their testimonial:

“Sam has been able to guide and support me through some challenging times both professionally and personally. Through a truly authentic and caring approach, Sam made me feel comfortable enough to break down my own internal boundaries to get to the heart of what was holding me back. Sam’s manner is calm, kind and nurturing, but she was able to challenge my way of thinking in a direct and clear way. Sam manages to gain understanding quickly and can often relate topics to her own personal experience, which I found pivotal in building trust. Even a short conversation with Sam at points was invaluable in my personal and professional growth.”

What has coaching taught you about yourself and other people?

So much. I think mainly that our beliefs and values are only as fixed as we make them. People can be truly courageous if they have someone to really hear them.

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

The biggest challenge for me is balancing the time. My business is slowly growing and there is some interesting work coming in that I find it difficult to say no to. I need to learn to be a little more disciplined when agreeing to take work on as there are only so many hours in the day.  The rewards come from the clients. Hearing their reflective thoughts as we close a session or a programme never fail to reassure me that I’ve made the right decision in setting up my own practice.

Our sincere thanks to Sam for sharing her inspiring story of coach training