Learner stories: "Thank you, NCFE, for igniting my love of coaching"
Susannah Chambers, who currently works as an Agile Coach Lead at a major international fintech organisation, has progressed through her career by building on the foundations laid by studying two NCFE qualifications in coaching.
We caught up with her to learn about the ways in which these qualifications have helped to shape her career, as well as her lifelong learning journey.
What NCFE qualifications did you complete?
“I completed a Diploma in Performance Coaching in February 2002 and a Certificate in Life Coaching in January 2006. Both of these were awarded by NCFE and I studied via distance learning, which was a lot more unusual at that time compared to nowadays!”
Why did you choose to study these qualifications?
“My main motivation to complete both qualifications was to have fun in my free time (I didn’t have my three children at that point!) and invest in sustaining my lifelong learning journey.
"By the time I embarked on the diploma course with NCFE, I’d already completed my 1st Class Honours degree in Communications and Management at the University of Lincoln (a university that I helped as a teenager to fundraise to build in the 1990s) and had embarked on my working career. However, I didn’t feel at that time that I’d found my purpose in my career. All I knew was that I had a clear core value and life mission which was to bring joy to others!
“Coaching as a subject enticed me for that reason. I didn’t really understand at that stage what coaching was, other than what I heard about it in a sporting context. However, as I understood it coaching was about helping others become the best they can be in life, and this resonated with my mission to bring joy.”
What skills and knowledge did you gain?
“Through learning about a variety of coaching techniques, I was able to gain lots of useful people skills, including the ability to quickly build rapport with others, and how to identify what they want to achieve to feel fulfilled. I still use a lot of the coaching techniques I learnt throughout the courses in my day-to-day coaching and life in general to this day!
“I also developed my critical thinking skills and the skill of being curious. Learning how to combine coaching frameworks with a curiosity to learn and help somebody improve their situation – from a point of kindness and critical friend inquiry – has helped me throughout my career and has become a core part of the authentic personal branding I am known for.”
What has your career journey looked like since studying?
“Little did I know at the time that all the fantastic content I had access to learning through the NCFE courses was not only going to support my later learning progression, but actually become my main profession day-to-day in my career in an international context!
“After deciding early on that I wasn’t going to pursue a career in law, I embarked on a career in education – specifically the adult and community learning field, project managing and teaching in former pit villages in Nottinghamshire. I spent over a decade working in both the Further Education sector doing this work and in an adult and community learning service in a local authority.
“It was a love of learning that propelled me to undertake independent research projects outside of the day job – which led to me presenting my research in the academic conference world.
“That – and the inspiring work of Campaign for Learning – led to me springboarding into a role as the national policy lead for England and Wales in Family Learning. Following that role, I became Project Manager at Peeple for a large-scale Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT), called the Learning Together Study, funded by The Education and Training Foundation.
“Since then, I progressed to work as an Agile Coach in the fintech sector for a major international company. I’ve been working at the company for over two years now and last year, was promoted to the role of Agile Coach Lead.”
“Alongside my career, I’ve also continued my learning journey through completing a master’s degree in educational learning and development (with my dissertation focusing on the motivation of e-learners!) and have also completed several other courses including a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) qualification, as well as a further diploma in coaching at the University of Cambridge.”
How did your NCFE qualifications support you to achieve this?
“Looking back on my learning journey, I can absolutely see how those coaching qualifications provided the cornerstone and north star for so many hallmarks of my approach throughout my career – even though it has sometimes felt like a zig-zag journey to get here.
“The coaching qualifications really brought to life for me that at the heart of any situation, there are the complexities of humans being human. Whatever the situation, at the core of people living their most happy and fulfilled life, is their ability to make sense of and feel comforted and challenged in their situation and able to achieve their ambitions, whatever those ambitions might be.
“Thank you, NCFE, for igniting my love of learning about coaching over two decades ago and giving me such a strong foundation on which I’ve been able to navigate my ongoing learning progression, with positive outcomes both for my career progression and my personal life too.”
To find out more about our adult education offer and qualifications eligible for a variety of funding streams, visit our Learning for Work homepage.
Name: Susannah Chambers
Qualification: Coaching qualifications
Centre: Distance learning
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