Anna Percy-Davis is a specialist in empowering people to take charge of their careers and thrive at work. Anna talks to The Industry Leaders about how she cuts through the noise of information overload, and how taking a walk helps her switch-off after work.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
Excellent question! I am an Economics and Psychology graduate and initially followed the economics part of my degree, firstly in fund management and then in banking. However, it's people that I am really interested in. Thus, after several years in recruitment, I did a foundation training in Psychotherapy before going onto train as a coach.
I chose coaching over therapy as I am more interested in empowering people to make their lives and careers happen rather than helping people process what may have happened in their past.
What kind of work does your role involve?
The main focus of my job is helping individuals and organisations to thrive. I do this through one-to-one coaching and through group training. I spend my time helping individuals and groups find and nurture the tools to excel at work and love what they do. I also advise and support leadership teams around issues as diverse as business strategy, growing and developing individuals within their organisation, and workplace wellbeing for their employees.
What gets you excited about your industry?
I think coaches operating in the workplace can have a profoundly positive impact. Coaching doesn't just have to help individuals and businesses excel, but they can help organisations (and their people) see beyond their own success. A thriving organisation is much more likely to take a step back and look at where it can have a broader impact.
Today it is more important than ever that we all take our social responsibility seriously. Companies need to be looking at what positive impact they can have on global issues such as climate change and global poverty. The coaching fraternity needs to be actively encouraging companies to engage with these issues.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Just do it.
What, or who inspires you?
There are a few business psychologists out there who are doing some great work. Their work is brilliant not just because their research is good but also because they have managed to get their messages out simply and clearly and this is having a powerful impact on the working world today. My three top psychologists are Adam Grant, Simon Sinek and Susan A David (who also happens to be South African like me so even more special!).
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in the industry?
Another excellent question because information overload is such a challenge for us all these days. Having said that I love the process of uncovering new ideas and keeping abreast with some of the excellent research currently being generated. However I do cheat! It takes a lot for me to read a whole "self-help" book - bite size is the way I like it, and it seems to be the way most of my clients like it too! So I watch Ted talks, read articles, and am an active LinkedIn and Instagram user which are all great ways to get bite-size learnings!
What was the most challenging project or assignment you've worked on?
I grew up in South Africa and have lived in the UK, Italy, France and Portugal, and I think in many ways these moves have been the most challenging moments in my life. Moving countries is challenging and can be lonely and frustrating, especially until one learns the language!
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
Gosh - what a thought! I would certainly look at how I could set up some sort of charity which would, naturally, involve coaching. Failing that I would look at how I could contribute both time and money to one of the mental health charities already doing great work. Head Talks is one such charity who actively engages with coaches like me in order for us to produce content, run webinars and create videos for their social media platforms to support individuals with mental health challenges. So many people in the world today have mental health challenges, exacerbated by the global pandemic, it is essential those of us who can help do help.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
I always, always change out of my suit (or, in these working from-home days, change out of whatever I have been wearing to look respectable on zoom!). I then take off my make up and go for a walk. I like a good 30-minute stride (but if it's only 10 minutes that is fine too!) and if it's in the dark I try to make that feel adventurous! I am also very good at watching Netflix, listening to music and having a laugh with my husband over dinner - all done with the maximum amount of slothfulness!
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
For coaches to be better qualified, properly rated and taken more seriously. There are so many challenges facing individuals and companies today that good coaches could have a profound impact. Coaches, across the globe, need to rise to these challenges.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
Adam Grant has a great podcast, and you can never go wrong with a TED talk - their output is phenomenal. www.howtoacademy.com is a site to sign up to as well. They attract the world’s most prominent thinkers and writers for talks and podcasts. Pure gold dust!
How should people connect with you?
Via any of the following:
Anna Percy Davis on LinkedIn
and @annapdwellbeing on Instagram
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