By Jules Burke
Have you ever felt your life was stuck in a rut and not going anywhere? If you have, you’ll feel like I did, desperate to find a way out and looking for solutions. I’d spent ten years as a journalist but wasn’t feeling fulfilled, so I decided to get some expert career advice. I sat down at my computer and googled ‘career coach’.
Out popped some interesting people. Some I dismissed because they were either too young to have much experience of life themselves, or it was clear they were the type of coach that I knew would give me loads of questionnaires to fill in and basically get me to do all the work.
I really needed some ideas of where to go and how to achieve it, and wanted a professional coach who was someone who had experience of life and the business world, and was prepared to actually put their neck on the block and give me ideas on what I could do, as well as support me on the journey to achieving it.
Some were too expensive and their prices made me cough, but finally I found someone who looked just right. Her name was Denise Donoghue. She had a kind face and intrigued me.
Her LinkedIn profile read: ‘Career Consultant, Executive & Leadership Coach, Professional Development Trainer’.
Her 20 years of experience seemed to sum up everything I was looking for: – ‘Helping clients make the right choices, optimizing their performance and gaining satisfaction from work, whether it’s increasing their earning power, spending more time with their families or transforming themselves from good managers into great leaders’.
I kind of fancied myself as a great leader I thought with a wry smile, and decided to pluck up the courage to email her and arrange our first chat.
At Our First Zoom I knew She Was The Perfect Fit
At our first zoom meeting I was instantly put at ease and realised she was the perfect fit. She was gentle and intelligent; the kind of professional older friend you’d always wished you’d had but couldn’t find. A nurturing figure who helps people achieve their potential, and has the best advice. It was clear she really knew her stuff about all kinds of professional businesses and the somewhat bumpy journeys to succeed in them.
With a degree in Psychology Denise had started her impressive career running courses in relationship management while working for a big global American telecommunications company.
She helped with conflict and time management, built high performance teams, and taught the essentials of effective leadership.
After six years of doing this, she decided to do a postgraduate training course in career coaching, and the rest as they say is history.
Helping Students at Oxford & Cambridge
She’s worked with students and alumni at some of the top Universities in the UK including Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College in London, as well as Milan Polytechnic and Insead Business School near Paris. Her clients include those seeking satisfying work that aligns with their values and learning how to deal with multiple challenges in the workplace.
As we explored my career as a journalist and working in the media, she told me she would be open with me but challenge me to give my opinion on things so I could get the best ultimate goal. She wasn’t one of those non directive coaches’ who wouldn’t give me her ideas and advice. I felt so relieved when she told me that she would bring her experience to the table.
She told me one of my strengths was that my interviewing others would help me understand the importance of building a rapport with whoever was interviewing me. Getting the job wasn’t just about being able to do it, but also about being liked.
She also suggested that I decide what my ‘non negotiables’ in a role would be way before applying for things, but that I should avoid being too specific.
With a little chuckle she described how one of her clients, who was in his 20’s, once told her: “I have to have a job in a workplace that involves only travelling on the Northern line”.
I had to point out that this could severely limit his career opportunities, and might not be a good idea, but amazingly he did actually get one. It just shows that anything can be achieved with sheer determination.
As the months flew by, I began to rely on Denise, and we built up a professional friendship, which helped me to a place I wanted to be in my career.
The Average Person Spends A Third Of Their Life At Work
She reminded me that the average person spends a third of their life at work (on average around 90,000 hours) and what we do always overlaps with our private lives. This makes it important for both to flourish in order for us to feel totally fulfilled and happy.
“Confidence and lack of it is one of the toughest challenges we all face” says Denise, “and it’s vitally important when applying for certain jobs that we come across as confident but not arrogant”.
Part of her job as a career coach is to delve deeper into our life issues to ensure we remove anything which may have dented our self-esteem.
Bullying in the workplace is a serious problem she deals with a lot, and clients who have suffered from it can often end up having confidence issues leading to imposter syndrome.
Denise feels our education system is partly to blame: “It’s severely lacking in real world skills, and career choices often fail children”: –
“The teachers told us my son Sean was unmotivated and would never achieve anything” she admits. “He was a bit of a nightmare when he was a teenager, very rebellious and played truant at school. His only interest was music, and I was worried he’d never manage to find a good job.
““Thanks to my training I realised I had to stay calm and supportive of his dreams because he was determined to become a music producer. When he announced he wanted to invest in some equipment, I offered to match whatever he earned to help him buy it.
Now hugely successful Sean has created some incredible work and is one of the top sound engineers in the country with 7 studios in North London with an incredible 28 certified platinum records to his credit.”
A.I. Presents One Of Our Main Career Challenges Ahead
In her future as a career coach Denise is looking forward to the development of artificial intelligence and how it’s used in the workplace.
“I’m supporting clients in how to use A.I. There are so many fantastic resources like ChatGTP, but it’s never going to take over the role of a career coach who will be able to probe, challenge and support in a more holistic way.”
Her impressive career to date has even brought her into contact with several celebrities, most notably was her encounter with the tennis legend Billie Jean King.
“I briefly met her at a women in business event” says Denise. “She was so charming and really enthusiastic about helping women with their careers.
It made me realise that her journey to success took a lot of hard work, and she was a huge inspiration in how to break the glass ceiling on achieving success and equal prize money in a male dominated sport.”
There’s no doubting that Denise is the kind of person who will be equally at home working with any type of client in any age bracket from 18 to 80, and all of them will be really happy they did.
She’s one of those people that you’ll always want to keep in touch with, a shining light on your journey through life. Someone who will really add value, like she did for me, just when I needed it most.
To work with Denise you can contact her through her LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/denisedonoghue