I’m Jo. I’m a career & leadership coach and artist & maker.
It wasn’t always so. For 20+ years, I held senior tax roles in FTSE 100 multi-nationals most latterly at BP plc where I was Head of UK Tax for BP’s refining and marketing businesses. Here's my story:
During my 20s, I enjoyed my career. I worked hard to qualify as a chartered accountant and secured promotion after promotion up the career ladder. I couldn’t believe my luck – how did I, the clever girl from the local comprehensive, find myself in a meeting with the Finance Director of a FTSE 100 company?
By my mid-30s, I had the sense I was looking for something but what? When I paused to feel the dissatisfied feeling inside, I thought I needed a new challenge. So I took on a series of new tax roles. As I look back, I see I was trying to prove to myself that I was good enough.
By 40 and now at BP, I was working long and hard. I still had a social life but it was scheduled in around work and business trips. My six-figure-salary bought me lovely clothes and handbags, exotic holidays plus a gorgeous home in Guildford. I had it all, didn’t I? So why did I feel unhappy? I see now I was searching for meaning in my life.
My sense of being ‘at sea’ grew when I took on a challenging change management role. I felt out of my depth. My gut told me my success depended on my ability to develop my self-awareness as a leader. I enrolled on a leadership development programme with the ICAEW. A trigger came when in one exercise, I saw a theme running through my life: I saw bosses as ‘difficult’ and I realised this had started in my childhood with my mum who’d suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I started to cry and even though I was scared, decided to open what I then saw as the pandora’s box of my childhood. I somehow knew that the key to my success as a leader and my overall happiness lay there. A second trigger was the realisation that part of me was missing and was not being fully expressed in my work or life. I loved developing people (this was only part of my then role), art & craft, colour and fun. I’d lost sight of these in all the work and busyness. It was time to look inside and change.
I took an intensive personal development course called the ‘More to Life Weekend’. It was a rollercoaster ride but when I got off, wobbly legs and all (literally!), the whole world looked different and I was freed-up. I entered counselling. I did further personal development work. I unearthed unconscious beliefs that I was holding about myself at that time including “I am not good enough”. This belief and others had been playing out in how I lived my life as “nice, reliable, Jo”. I knew I was more.
Around the same time, I thought about what I’d really like to do with my life. Two golden threads ran through - my love of developing people and my love of art & craft. I re-trained as a coach with Coaching Development Limited and re-found forgotten art skills.
It took a crisis for me to leave the tax world and step into my new career as I was worried about money (the potential lack of it). I suffered what the consultant called a ‘serious brain injury’ after blacking out, falling down and hitting my head on a London pavement. I could have died and it was my wake-up call. I spent 10 days in hospital recovering and having tests, 3 months at home resting, and a further 3 months getting over the post-trauma depression. As I look back, I believe I’d been pushing myself too hard – doing, doing, doing – and my body finally said ‘no’!
There was moment as I laid in my hospital bed when I had a strange out-of-body experience. I saw all my learned ways of behaving playing out before me and I wondered why I was treating myself so badly. In that moment, I realised it's my life and I only have one life. I now choose to live it fully; not partially or in a way that’s convenient to or expected by others.
Nowadays it is my privelege to coach high achievers who are struggling or 'at sea'. My clients are often in the corporate world, working themselves hard, feeling frustrated, stressed, angry or sad with no time for themselves. They want more and I partner with them to discover what this 'more' is. It may be re-igniting their passion for their current career or working out what the 'new' is. I help them re-balance and express themselves more in their lives, plus accompany them as they implement the changes.
What am I like?
You can get a sense of what I'm like from my testimonials.
My motivation as a coach comes from my belief that people are meant to shine, and I want to do my part to help high achievers become their whole, best selves whatever that may look like.
I value honesty, openess, trust, fun.
Clients describe me as warm, gentle, challenging and a bit quirky.
Art and craft
Last year, I sewed this tapestry. I love the simple yet strong design and the toning colours. I look at it often to remind myself to accept and appreciate myself just as I am.
I can sew you a tapesty too! With your own words and choice of colours. Get in touch if you'd like to commission one.