The Horse’s Mouth
Here are a taste of the situations that draw women to work with me and, in their own words, how they’ve gained from our sessions. There’s a sprinkling of other feedback too.
“She just ‘gets it’, not only commercially but how it feels to be a working mum”
For me, coaching is a way to pause for an hour, consider where you are going next and how to get there. I signed up at a pivotal moment in my career as I was made redundant when returning from maternity leave. The great thing about Jessica is she just seems to ‘get it’. Not only commercially but how it feels to be a working mum.
Jessica helped with a range of things. A great example is how to ask for feedback without sounding insecure. Jessica helped by asking good questions, helping me to be specific in my answers and offering suggestions when I asked for them.The important thing I took out of the sessions was realising that resilience means I knew what to do next when things didn’t work out.
I was cautious before starting coaching about it being too ‘hippy’ or verging on counselling which I just didn’t want at this time. Although I recognise there are emotions involved, I wanted to focus on professionalism. I felt Jessica respected this and kept the conversation very much focused on career, work life and all that encompasses. I highly recommend working with Jessica, it has been a brilliant experience.
“I can’t imagine I would have managed to negotiate a move to such an exciting role on a part time basis. Thank you, thank you!”
I think when we last spoke in September I mentioned that I had been approached the day before by a headhunter, and ended up concluding that maybe I should respond to their message even though I thought it was unlikely I would be able to do the job on a part time basis and so didn’t think it was a serious prospect. And you gave me some wise advice not to mention flexible working early on, but to wait til they already liked me before bringing it up.
Well, after some delays as they rescoped the role and I basically gave up on it, I ended up going for interview a couple of weeks ago, and have now accepted an offer to be…. XXXXX …..this feels like a great move. The amazing bit about it all is that they have agreed to me keeping my current working pattern and working 20 hours a week!
It is a very male financial services organisation so I hadn’t expected this flexibility from them, and your advice has been invaluable as I have no doubt that had I mentioned it to the recruiter at the outset they would not have considered me. However, at the end of what felt to be a very positive interview with the HR Director and the Head of HR Operations I snuck flexible working in as my final question. They looked taken aback and exchanged slightly strange looks before saying yes simultaneously. They explained it is a business where there has not been much of a flexible working agenda and there are very few part time employees, however it is something they recognise that needs to change and so they felt it was right that HR led the way. It feels a bit daunting to be a trailblazer, but shows all kinds of things are possible if people really want you!
So I wanted to say a huge thank you, as were it not for our conversation I can’t imagine I would have managed to negotiate a move to such an exciting role on a part time basis. Thank you thank you!! Now I just need to handle a polite resignation next week and then start to plan how to make an impact in my role, which is just the kind of challenge I need for the new year.
“You helped me immensely. It was a springboard to getting back into a scientific role.”
I just wanted to drop you a quick message to thank you for the maternity comeback workshop I attended in February. It (and your book, which I am currently reading) has helped me immensely. I needed the confidence to believe that I could get back into a more scientific role even though I have spent the last three years in an admin job way below my capabilities. Your straight talking and different point of view have provided me with a springboard to make some changes.
I was stuck in a mindset that my children would suffer if I were more engaged in work, mainly through conditioning from family members. As my husband has a very demanding job (academic scientist) and commutes to London on a three-hour round trip, I felt trapped in the main carer role working part-time in a boring job.
Over the last few months I have applied for three science-related roles and whilst they were not all at the level that I was working at before, they would be a step in the right direction and much more interesting (and better paid!) than my current role. I was interviewed for all three and I have just been verbally offered the third of these: a Research Strategy post at the University of Cambridge. It is a one-year contract, but that does not bother me in my new assertive way! Thanks to my new-found confidence that I could manage a more demanding role and that they would be lucky to have me, I have negotiated for a three-day week in order to spend time with my children, the upper end of the pay scale and a scientific remit that I think will be incredibly interesting. It just shows what you can get if you ask for what you really want!
It will be a very interesting role and I can’t wait to receive the written offer and resign from my current post. So, thank you for your help. I think that it is wonderful that you give up your time to do these workshops for those of us who do not have the opportunity corporately and who would be unlikely to spend hundreds of pounds from the family budget on private coaching. I will recommend you to every woman I know who has small children!
Rebecca, maternity comeback workshop participant, 2016
“You held a mirror up to me, now I’m taking control.”
I felt so unsupported in my role at work and there was no long-term career strategy support. You put a mirror up to me and said ‘you said all those things, and what are you going to do about it?’ I think that’s what’s been so helpful about coaching. You said that I sounded very happy and confident when I started talking about working for myself and the rest of the time I sound quite monotone and bored. And I realised that is the case – I actually started talking about things that I am genuinely keen to do, even if they are just vague ideas and I do come into myself more. When I was writing my five year plan, I was thinking what would Jessica say to this? Because we’ve had those conversations and I know certain things about myself as a result of coaching, I can’t run from them anymore. I’m doing something about it now, I’m taking control.
J.Jones, COO and MBA student, January 2016
“Extremely valuable, a safe place to speak my mind.”
“I have worked with Jessica a couple of times in the last year and have found her support extremely valuable in two very different circumstances. The rst time round she worked with me understand my strengths and weaknesses, and helped me put in place a development plan for my career. The second time I had already taken the leap to start my own business, and found the coaching with Jessica instrumental for de ning my strategy and getting into the right mindset to succeed in building a business from scratch. Her coaching sessions are very pleasant and create a safe place to speak my mind, which gave me incredible clarity and a renewed sense of enthusiasm and excitement for the future. I recommend coaching with Jessica for anyone who is at a cross-roads and needs help making important career decisions.”
A. Berridge, August 2015.
“It’s been remarkable, a huge impact on my personal and professional life.”
“Coaching with Jessica has had a huge impact on my personal and professional life. I got in touch with her on the recommendation of a friend and colleague when I was at a crossroads and did not trust my ability to make the right decision. I was unhappy at work, had lost my self-confidence, and was unsure whether to change company, change role, stick it out, or pursue something else entirely. Over the course of 3 coaching sessions, Jessica coached me gently to navigate around the issues using a combination of techniques. She helped me deal with a range of subjects ranging from making the right decisions, managing emotions, fear of the unknown, having difficult conversations, playing to my strengths more, and gave me various cognitive coping methods to help me be more effective. In less than 2 months, the effects have been remarkable; my commitment to my career and company are renewed, my whole outlook has gone from negative to positive, my relationships with friends and colleagues are better, I’m getting better results out of my team, and I’ve even started to fulfifil a secret ambition to write a book. I have already recommended Jessica to four colleagues and friends and would not hesitate to recommend her to anyone who is at a crossroads or has lost confidence in their abilities.”
Nicky, manager level at IT services company, July 2015.
“A huge boost in my confidence when re-entering the job market.”
“Jessica is really a fantastic coach and so easy to relate to, my coaching sessions have given me a huge boost in confidence. I feel very energised and in Jessica’s own words ‘very upbeat’ about the next stage of my career. I contacted Jessica a few weeks before I was due to start a new role after being out of the market for nearly 2 years. I started off by doing the Realise2 questionnaire which was a great tool in terms of reminding me of my strengths and also identifying my weaknesses. In our discussions Jessica and I looked at how I could use my strengths to help me build the professional success I am aiming for and also considered whether my weaknesses relevant or not in terms of the career direction I am looking to take.”
Danny S, Returning to work in finance, September 2014
“It’s been fantastic, I had a lot of aha moments.”
“I wanted to thank you again for the fantastic coaching sessions: they were a lot of help from a personal and professional perspective and I had a lot of aha moments. It strikes how much one’s blind zones increase as you grow in an organization…”
Claire Gubian, Head of Mobile and Retail, PayPal CEMEA – April 2014
“I was cynical about coaching. I wouldn’t have believed how much could be achieved in a single coaching session.”
I’ve always preferred life to be on the hectic side of busy, and my approach to life’s difficulties has been to just get my head down and work through it. That approach hasn’t always been successful, but enabled me to build up a business alongside a full-time PhD in cancer research. When my daughter was born, I took a year of maternity leave from the latter, and tried my best to come up with strategies to minimise stress on my return. After 6 weeks back, I was drowning in tiredness and guilt.
I’d been sceptical about coaching, but a late night Facebook procrastination session led me to entering an auction to win a 75-min session with Jessica Chivers and, amazingly, I won! Jessica was the opposite of what I had envisaged. She has a down-to-earth, evidence-based, and intelligent approach. She gave me the chance to work out what my key problems were with a pre-session questionnaire, which started a process of reflection that had unexpected results. In the session, Jessica annulled years of mother-induced pent-up guilt about leaving my child after only a few minutes of anecdotes and data.
I took away a lot of knowledge, developed a new plan that has worked, and use a couple of her suggested strategies regularly to keep my self-esteem up when inevitable toddler/work-induced tiredness strikes.
I love the new balance that I have to my life now – stress can still creep in but I recognise the signs earlier and put into place some of the tricks I learned in the session. I’ve had so many comments since about how much more relaxed I seem, and my husband and I both feel that every aspect of life has benefited as a result. I would not have believed how much could be achieved in a single coaching session – it made a believer out of a cynic.
Dr M, PhD student, business owner and mum, January 2013.
About Jessica Chivers
I have 13 years of coaching experience and my approach can be summed up in four words: strengths, solutions-focused, practical. This means paying attention to what’s already working, a coachee’s strengths and what he or she finds energising, then building from there. As a coaching psychologist I take an evidence-based approach to the way I work and often share relevant practical insights from the research literature with my coachees.
Coaching structure and process
Coaching involves a regular confidential conversation either face to face at a clients’ office, my coaching space or another relaxed place or by phone/Skype. We agree upfront how many sessions we will work together initially (usually three). Typically, our first coaching session begins by us going through a reflective exercise I’ve sent you beforehand to get you thinking about the future and the difference you would like coaching to make.
Are you in HR?
Visit the Talent Keepers
The Talent Keeper Specialists helps employers keep, retain and develop returning talented and valued employees through workshops, 1:1 coaching and culture-shaping initiatives aimed at line managers. We provide both off-the-peg and customised solutions through our select team of experienced coaching and talent practitioners.
Jessica Chivers on BBC Breakfast
Jessica Chivers on BBC News