Alison Hughes is the founder and coach of Dynamo careers. In this interview, she tells us why an "end of work-day" routine has been vital during lockdown, and why she wishes for a more regulated industry in the future.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
My early career was defined by gut instinct. I spent some time in HR Consulting and then over a decade in executive recruitment, starting out as a PA and ending up as a Director.
I was called to coaching in 2016 when I retrained, again going with my gut instinct, set up my coaching business and... flew! Now I help people to be happier and more fulfilled at work, and I truly enjoy my niche.
What gets you excited about your industry?
Coaching people to make progress in their careers and their lives is a privilege. Witnessing clients having a breakthrough moment, overcoming a long-standing barrier and growing in self-confidence is so rewarding.
Also, the coaching community is very supportive and sharing, and I love the lifelong learning aspect of the profession. There are always new avenues to explore as a coach, and I find that really exciting.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Nothing is ever wasted.
All experiences in life shape you. Don't ever regret spending time pursuing a path that feels like a diversion. You'll definitely have gained something from that path that will help you in some way.
What, or who inspires you?
My clients inspire me every day. It's inspirational to see the courage and vulnerability that people share in coaching and the striving to be better, happier and more fulfilled.
After that, there's a long list starting with my parents who taught me to be kind and ending with my dog who has an unwavering belief in everything that I do.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in the industry?
CPD is essential as a coach and I budget for my own development as a coach every year.
I am a member of the International Coach Federation and their emails, courses and publications keep me up to speed with the global coaching community. I do reciprocal peer coaching through the ICF, which connects me with coaches in different parts of the world.
I am also a member of, and co-run, a local collaborative group for coaches.
What was the most challenging project or assignment you've worked on?
The biggest challenge I have as a coach is when I'm working with someone who doesn't want to be coached.
This can sometimes happen when a company "sponsors" the coaching programme. It's challenging for the ego when you feel that your coaching is not making a difference and the coach's ego has no place in the coaching relationship. The challenge of being a coach is shutting out your own internal "noise" and ego in service of your client. It's a continual work in progress!
If you could start your life again, what would you do differently?
As I said earlier, nothing is wasted. I honestly wouldn't do anything differently because each experience is part of the learning, even if it feels bad, sad or difficult at the time.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
First, plan a few nice holidays - a walking safari in Africa, India by train, and a road trip in the US.
Then, I would buy a house with a bit more land so I can have more animals. We have a dog, cats and chickens but I'd really like goats, donkeys and horses too.
I'd definitely still do coaching but with fewer clients and more pro bono.
And give away a good chunk to various small charities.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
I'm a big fan of Michael Hyatt, so I have an "end of work-day" routine that signals to my brain that I'm closing down work for the day. This has been so important during lockdown and working at home.
The evening is usually spent with my husband reading, chatting, watching a movie. Outside of lockdown we also love going to the pub!
In the summer I might meet a friend for a dog walk. I'm lucky to live in the South Downs National Park but also be just a 5-minute drive from Chichester Harbour, so I'm spoiled for choice with beautiful scenery.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
I have two wishes (sorry!).
That it continues to grow so that more people can access a coach at a price that they can afford.
That it becomes more regulated so that people are protected from untrained professionals who might do more damage than they intend to.
How should people connect with you?
You can connect with me via any of the following: