My Story and Journey
Over the past 25 years I have been lucky enough to have benefitted from inspirational mentors and coaches who have helped me navigate both the highs and the lows of my career, life and health. This is why I am passionate about helping individuals and companies to 'Navigate the New Norm' and become the best version possible for themselves, their teams and those they impact.
Between 2005 and 2009 I had an executive coach who lived in Dubai and when I moved there myself from London in 2007, he told me that he planned to retire. He asked if I would be interested in taking over his small executive coaching practice which he ran with his wife. They had met in the Caribbean 5 years earlier, because of me, but that is another story! Due to the financial crisis at the time and given the immense change in the world, I agreed. In 2009 I rebranded and repositioned the business to focus on executive career and leadership coaching in the Middle East. I called it ‘Alchemy Executive’ and for 5 years I coached executives seeking change and new roles in the region. I was able to draw on 15 years of hiring and recruitment expertise to help guide individuals on their career journey, their change of direction, their leadership capability and help them find new roles and perform better.
At that time the market was booming and for 5 years my executive search and consulting career became increasingly intense. I was travelling around the globe. I took over 70 flights a year, spending 60 nights a year in hotels and, at the age of 44, was at the peak of my career both professionally and financially. Little did I know that I was close to ‘burnout’, which happened in 2015. After taking an overnight flight back from Shanghai to Dubai, I experienced a TIA (transient ischemic attack). Essentially what started as ‘pins and needles’ in both my arms, proved to be the precursor to a stroke. Following 4 days of medical tests, doctors informed me that I was lucky it hadn't ended in a stroke that could have perhaps paralysed, or even killed me! This subsequently meant that I had to consider slowing down and face a life of preventative medication, which was something that I simply could not comprehend at just 44 years old. I believed there had to be a better way…by completely changing my lifestyle!
The combination of working flat out for 20 years had resulted in high blood pressure and cholesterol, a lack of regular exercise and an inconsistent diet. This, combined with too much travel and the stress of working 60 to 70 hours a week, had caught up with me.
By coincidence I had met another coach who, following his own experience of recovering from a brain injury, had been studying the brain and neuroscience for 20 years. As an academic and health performance coach, he worked with executives around the world in the US, UK, Middle East and Africa, using well-being to enhance performance by optimising the brain and the body. You could say it was ‘fate’, or a meeting of minds, but something ‘clicked’ and we decided to build something together - a truly unique, bespoke and fully integrated executive coaching plan that would encompass both career, leadership and health.
After many months of working with the Institute of Coaching at Harvard Medical School to research and test, we refined an executive coaching plan that could be designed and tailored around most individuals. Given my health scare, I decided that I would be the ‘guinea pig’ for the process that we had developed. After putting myself through it, with outstanding results, ‘N3’ was launched. Since 2015 we have coached over 100 C-level executives on their career, leadership, future performance and personal well-being. This took us into many areas of research and study on behalf of every client. Each one had very unique and individualistic needs in relation to their own current and future work performance. What we didn't realise, or fully comprehend, was the profound change and impact that our coaching plan would have on people's lives and health.
Not only were we helping them to be better in their senior roles by having more focus and clarity, but they also started to notice many additional benefits. They had more stamina and were able to sustain this whilst reducing stress, replacing bad habits, improving their mental and physical well-being and internal relationships with their families.
I then made a very conscious choice to scale back my travel and working hours, which allowed me to introduce some balance and structure into my own life. I fully embraced the key principles of our health coaching process, focusing on the 5 pillars which we had identified: Nutrition, Exercise, Sleep, Well-being and Relationships. This worked extremely well and I continued in my high performance career whilst, at the same time, coaching my personal clients during the evenings and at weekends.
Making this change myself has allowed me to support the talent of high performing executives to function and work at optimal levels. N3 Executive is not trying to build corporate athletes, instead just help people to be the best they can be for themselves, their family and their business. As leaders we are looking to help executives address stress-related, anxiety and mental health related issues in the workplace and understand how this impacts other people. Therefore, our reach goes beyond the individual concerned and into the organisation itself which, in turn, starts to optimise the company’s well-being and performance as a whole.
In 2017, I wrote an internal paper to my CEO (similar to the movie ‘Jerry Maguire’, my favourite film!) where I highlighted what was wrong with the executive search industry.
It had gained a poor reputation for candidate management, had become too impersonal and treated people as if they were just a number. With the support of my CEO, I was given the internal mandate to shift the company’s thinking towards a future of supporting executives around the world. I spent a lot of time reading and studying leadership and the dynamics of companies in the business-to-business arena; but I truly wanted to be in the human-to-human space.
My increasing frustration was the same - only being able to help one person at a time through finding them a job and the next step in their career. This was obviously beneficial, but it didn't necessarily take into account any of the negative impacts of that new role i.e. more stress or seniority, pressure and the effect on their family in relocating them to different parts of the world. Yes, it was for a promotion, more money, a tax free environment and maybe a better life, but our industry was still a business-to-business service and less focused on the individual.
Twice in the past 3 years I have asked myself: “What do I want? What do I REALLY, REALLY want?”. Ultimately, reading the work of Simon Sinek and many others has led me to believe that what I have found in N3 Executive is my ‘Purpose’, my ‘Why’. In 2019, after my business partner relocated, I took over N3 Executive in its entirety.
It has enabled me to work with multiple individual clients, while impacting them on numerous levels and supporting them on their journey for prolonged periods of time to ensure that we were creating a sustainable career, income and life for them and their families.
25 years of assessing, hiring and developing people across multiple countries, companies and cultures, has given me the acute ability to 'join the dots' and see what others do not see about themselves or their business. Having extensively studied human and corporate performance and culture, I often ask the tough questions which others will not ask, or say the things that others may be afraid to say. That insight has allowed me to see patterns of behaviour and connections that have hugely impacted individuals and businesses. It is both an 'art and a science' and therefore allows me to be comfortable with ambiguity and navigate others towards a new norm.
So, in 2020, following 25 years of an extremely successful career in recruitment, executive search and leadership consulting, paralleled with 10 years of executive coaching, I decided it was time for change and embarked on my 2nd career. I took my own advice and decided to concentrate on building N3 Executive. We specialise in delivering world class Talent Advisory, Leadership Consulting and Executive Coaching to help individuals and companies navigate the new norm.
As we emerge from this post pandemic era into a world that none of us really recognise, there will be much more fear, anxiety, stress and mental health issues than ever before, combined with more people losing their jobs, direction and hope.
Therefore, my pledge is to dedicate the next phase of my career (probably 15 years!) to delivering an outstanding service to as many people as possible, without diluting the value added and impact.
I have set out to create an environment and ecosystem which supports people’s change and sustains their behavioural development, for the benefit of themselves and those around them. To give them focus and clarity of thought; to give them research on processes; to support their confidence in making a change; or leap! I want to impact more people and companies by helping them find their purpose, their passion and their profession which, I believe, is everyone's right.
I have learned that it is only through true authenticity, humility, transparency and vulnerability that we can become the best version of ourselves.
Looking forward to a better, brighter & healthier future!
‘Navigating the New Norm’