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Claire Kerswill

Professional Certificate in Executive Coaching

How did you first get involved with Henley, and what made you choose to study here?

‘My job involved a lot of coaching, and I had been looking for a formal qualification to underpin the practical activity. After looking at various options, I attended an open day at Henley, and was completely sold by the experience!

‘I met the Henley team, and could immediately see how the coaching certificate would fit in with my own learning style. I was particularly taken by the mix of students who talked about their experience of the coaching programme. It was important to me that any programme should include the balance – and the challenge – of mixing with a whole range of people from different backgrounds and industries. I was also very clear in my mind that I didn’t just want a coaching for HR course.

‘So I spoke to some of the people who had been through the programme and heard about their positive experiences. I had to make a business case to my organisation to get them to invest my development and fortunately they agreed to support me.’

So what are your recollections of the programme, and were there any surprises?

‘It was even more practical than I’d expected, with lots of opportunities to use various tools and techniques in real life coaching situations. I also found out which techniques I was comfortable with, depending on the people I was coaching. That really boosted my confidence.

‘As a group, we bonded almost immediately, and felt we had a shared purpose. We worked hard, but we had the luxury of being able to focus on ourselves, and think deeply. It’s not often you get the opportunity for this depth of development and feedback in the busy working world most of us are immersed in. There was a point at which I realised I had moved from consciously following various steps within coaching models, to being able to seamlessly, iteratively use them. It felt like a really transitional moment.’

So what impact has the programme had on you, and on the organisation?

‘I’ve been able to reflect on my personal style, and how I interact with other people, especially in line management and with senior colleagues. And I’m much more aware of the language I use, and the profound effect it has on outcomes. I’ve changed my way of being, even when I’m communicating by email. I’ve moved from a tendency to tell people how to do things, to coaching them to find their own ways. And it works with my kids too!

‘At work, I’ve had lots of positive feedback and have been able to encourage others to formalise their coaching skills. A coaching approach has developed across the team, and I think I’ve been a catalyst for that. The programme gave me the opportunity to think and test out how investing more in coaching could benefit the council. As a result, we are working on a coaching strategy to underpin our leadership and management development programmes and build coaching into our approach to organisational change and as a key skill for our leaders and managers.’

So what advice would you offer to anyone considering the Henley Professional Certificate in Executive Coaching?

'Go along to the open day, and judge for yourself. The tutors are all published authors – real experts in their field – and the quality of research being done at Henley is exceptional. I couldn’t have hoped for more support. The alumni network is great, and the diversity of people makes the whole experience a very inspiring one.’

Find out more about the Professional Certificate in Executive Coaching