As Managing Director of Inside Out Image, Joanna Gaudoin helps corporate clients develop their non-technical skills. She talks us through making the jump from the world of marketing and consultancy to owning her own business, and the importance of finding a niche.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
After nearly a decade in the corporate world in marketing and consultancy, I wanted to do something different but had no idea what. So, I worked with a career coach for six months to look at my skillset objectively, my values, what I enjoy and how I wanted my days to be. I retrained in the autumn of 2011 and haven't looked back.
The main thing I wanted to achieve was to help people develop and grow to fulfil their potential and, for myself, I wanted every day to be different. I have certainly achieved both of those!
What gets you excited about your industry?
I focus on working with people in Financial and Professional Services, so the more formal side of the business world. My clients are knowledgeable, technical and bright people, most of whom typically don't work on their non-technical skills in the early stages of their career.
It is a great joy to help individuals who realise they need these skills (and to persuade those who haven't realised) to see why they matter and to work on what is particularly important for them. I am delighted when I see them have their 'a-ha' moment and see the benefit of these skills.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Two pieces of advice really. The first is to focus on a niche area and become known as an expert in that area. It feels scary as you feel like you are pushing everyone else away. However, it means you focus your message and become a real expert in your chosen sector(s).
The second is to outsource elements you are less good at. I was originally a marketer but taking on a strategic marketing expert is one of the best things I have done; she has helped me look at my business more objectively and to focus.
What, or who inspires you?
I wouldn't be where I am now without my wonderful career transition coach and my husband, who encouraged me to work with her. Additionally, my business contacts are an inspiration, as very often a conversation with one of them inspires me in one way or another. People who run small businesses are very good at supporting and encouraging one another.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in the industry?
Attending events and social media, I would say are the main sources of learning. This, of course, includes reading other people's articles.
Where relevant, I do additional professional development, such as becoming accredited in "Navigating Office Politics" a few years ago. I now use this to help individuals navigate challenging relationships at work.
What was the most challenging project or assignment you've worked on?
I work with a small consultancy firm once a month (most of my clients are a lot larger) and have done so for a couple of years. I have worked with them as a group and also worked with individuals at different levels.
It is challenging as I need to be adaptable, work with them to develop a broad range of skills, identify how to support people's development and maintain confidentiality whilst also helping them all to work more effectively together. It is thoroughly enjoyable even if I am exhausted at the end of the day!
If you could start your life again, what would you do differently?
Not wishing to sound arrogant but not a lot really. Whilst we have some influence over our lives, I believe we can't totally control them, and things do happen for a reason.
Perhaps I would have worked harder to get along with my sister when we were children.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
As much as we like our existing home, I would probably move house to have more space now that most of my working life is at home.
I would also look at what philanthropic work we could support and probably go on a lovely hot holiday. I would continue to work as I love what I do.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
Exercise is very important to me, so I try to do that early on. It helps me get ready for the day. After work, I like to enjoy a glass of red, a nice dinner and a jigsaw puzzle or some TV. In non-Covid times, I love to go out for dinner with friends.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
That people in the sectors I work in would see the value of non-technical skills more frequently and that there would be a better work/life balance for individuals.
How should people connect with you?
You can connect with me at http://insideoutimage.co.uk/ or via LinkedIn: