After the pandemic struck, we knew that we wanted to make a positive contribution to society and decided to donate the proceeds from the book to the Trussel Trust

Adrian Marsh, an alumnus from our MA in Career Development and Coaching Studies, recently co-authored a book called Good Work Good Business, with all the proceeds from the book going to the Trussell Trust. Here, we caught up with him about his time at CLL and how he used the skills gained on the course to write his chapter for the book…

My career journey…

I started out my career originally as an engineer. I spent about 5-7 years in technical roles and then I studied an MBA and became a manager in the technology sector. I really enjoyed it but I fancied doing something different for the last phase of my career. The part of being a manager I really enjoyed was building teams, figuring out how people tick, finding out who would be the right person for different roles and then seeing people flourish in their careers. I went through a process of thinking how I could make this my full-time job and came to the idea of becoming a careers coach.

I started looking around for courses and I knew that this would be a radical change and I would feel more comfortable doing it if I could get the best possible professional credentials. I looked around the different courses available and I came across the course at Warwick and it seemed spot on. I was attracted by the University’s reputation but also that they were geared up for mature students like myself studying via distance learning. Everything seemed right and so I decided to sign up for the course.

Being part of the CLL community through distance learning…

As a cohort going through the course we bonded together. We were all having to learn new things, that weren’t simple and we supported each other in the process. Given that some modules were shared with other courses, it was good to meet new people and compare notes with them as well as those on your actual course. We did several group assignments and we really did feel like we were students at Warwick.

The support on offer at CLL…

A week before starting the course, I started to doubt whether I could actually study again as I hadn’t written an essay in over 20 years. However, the course team did a great job of settling us in and the course is really well structured.

At the start, there was a lot of support with helping us structure essays. For instance, the tutors would give you the headings, so you would know how to structure the content around them. The tutors were well-aware that people might be returning to studying after a long period of time. If you ever needed support, the tutors were brilliant at arranging group sessions or individual sessions. They were skilled at the the process of blended learning and I found it very helpful doing stuff initially on your own and then coming together to discuss things and meet other students who were going through the same process.

I was really pleased with how quickly it became very motivational. Having the opportunity to return to learning after such a long time was draining yet refreshing. I enjoyed the process of studying and being in a university environment.

Skills gained from studying the course…

I learnt a lot about career theory and practical coaching skills. I learnt a lot of different aspects, which were important for anyone wanting to do anything associated with careers, such as understanding employment market and how people experience their careers in organisations.

We also learnt how to design learning materials which is an important part of careers work. As a coach now, I would say I use something I learnt on the course every day of my working life.

Setting up my own coaching business…

After I obtained the masters qualification, I knew that I wanted to do something in the context of careers within organisations. I had always had another burning career ambition of running my own business. However, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to start from scratch and so I chose to buy a franchise. With the franchise, there were some established ways of working and I was able to get some practical on hands training. It was a great opportunity as the brand is already well-established but I am my own boss. The franchise gave me the freedom, the ability to do things my own way but also offered me support and allowed me to still be part of a team.

Collaborating on the book…

I joined the professional body for HR, the CIPD. There was a group for independent consultants within the CIPD in the Thames Valley and we started talking and then had this idea of writing a book. Then the pandemic struck and we were thinking this has now changed things. We initially thought we wouldn’t be able to collaborate together as we had planned on meeting up, reading one another’s chapters and then brining external speakers in.

We then decided to do it all remotely. The online collaboration was brilliant. We all supported one another by reading each other’s chapters and offering feedback. We all worked on our chapter areas and then tied it together as a common theme and published it all virtually.

After the pandemic struck, we knew that we wanted to make a positive contribution to society. The contents of the book is all about how we can build back better. The approaches in the book are all long lasting and are ideas organisations can use with their people within their organisation. Given the economic impact of the pandemic, we decided to donate the proceeds of the book to the Trussell Trust, who operate a nationwide network of food banks, and also campaign for change to end the need for food banks in the UK.

Who the book is aimed at

The book is aimed at HR people in organisations. Though many of the contributions are practical for employees in organisations. For example, my chapter draws a lot on what I did at Warwick and is about recognising how we feel after the pandemic. Are we motivated? Is our morale dipping? Organisations are looking at ways of re-engaging employees and careers are really important in this process. Most people experience their careers within an organisation.

One of the things which was a lightbulb moment on the course for me was, “whose career is it anyway?” This is now the title of my chapter. The answer to this question is, it is the individual’s career, they are the biggest stakeholder in their own careers. However, sometimes people don’t act this way or they don’t realise it. They might be expecting their manager to tell them how they can develop their career or they are not clear what they want from their career. The book chapter joins these things together and shows that it would be really good if we could help people to become more aware of what they want from their own careers, encourage them to take ownership for them and equip them with the tools and be open to helping them shape their own careers. If people have the clarity on how they want their career to develop and the organisation is helping them to develop in these areas, in line with their plans and goals, employees will feel more motivated.

Recommending the course to other people…

I would recommend it! First of all, being a career coach is fantastic and is really fulfilling. I love the fact that it feels that we are helping people during the pandemic.

If you want to become a careers coach, the course is a brilliant way of getting to that destination. It is really flexible and you can start out on one module and see if you like it and then you can do more. You don’t have to do the masters, there are other options available, such as the postgraduate diploma.

You will enjoy the experience, the team know what they are doing and are great at getting people from different backgrounds to the point where they are comfortable learning and enjoying the experience of going back to university after a long time.

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