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Five steps to choosing the right Executive Coach


For many in business, the start of a new year means setting new goals. These might be strategic or specific to your business. But they could be more personal, connected with your career or professional development. Whatever your goal for the year, you could well be considering working with an Executive Coach to help keep you on track, give you support and to improve your chances of success. Good move! But how do you choose the best coach for you? Here are my top 5 tips to help you ensure you make the best possible investment.

Tip #1

Be clear about what you want to achieve through coaching. Are you able to articulate what you need help with or what outcomes you want to see as a result of your coaching? The more specific you are, the more successful your coaching will be. And, if you have a goal, you can seek out the Executive Coach who has the skills and experience to help you achieve it.

Tip #2

Ask around amongst friends and colleagues to see if they have worked with a coach and if there is someone they can recommend to you. A recommendation from someone you know and trust is always better than a Google search!

Tip #3

Look carefully at the profile of the person you are considering as an Executive Coach. Do they have relevant experience? How much practical experience do they have of business? How likely are they to understand your situation and the issues you are facing? An experienced coach is one thing, an experienced coach who has worked at the coal face is even better!

Tip #4

Look carefully at client testimonials. How recent are they?   Are they specific about how they benefited from coaching and what they particularly valued about their Coach’s approach.

Tip #4

When you think you have found an Executive Coach who fits the bill, ask for a meeting with them before you commit. Successful Executive Coaching depends on being comfortable with your coach and on there being a strong relationship of trust and respect between you. You will only know if the relationship will work by meeting them face-to-face.


Good luck!   If you are considering Executive Coaching you can contact Jeanette Purcell on 07946 385178 or

It’s Good to Talk

Recently I completed a project for a highly respected financial company, renowned for its innovative approaches to staff development, engagement and communication.    The company had made a significant investment in a new project which involved some risk and uncertainty but was nevertheless considered essential for the company’s survival in a competitive market.  When I became involved the project was faltering.  Unease was growing about the likelihood of achieving success or, at least, of making any return on the investment to date.  On the surface there were a number of explanations for the anxieties.   Staff changes in key areas had led to some lack of continuity, feedback from some of the first trials had not been entirely positive, and there was a realisation that more investment would be required to achieve the original vision.   With no prospect of income from the project in the short term, there was a fear that the company had bitten off more than it could chew.

My task was to get the project back on track with a plan for the short and long term and recommendations for addressing the financial concerns.  This is the sort of challenge I love!   It involves elements of change management, strategic review, market analysis and financial planning and all of those issues came into play here.   However, looking back on my experience as a consultant for this company, I am convinced that the most important success factor in this project was in fact communication.   As I began to understand the context and to unearth some of the underlying issues affecting the project’s progress, it became clear to me that the expertise, the ideas, the information required to get things moving were right there in the company.   But communication had broken down, information was not being shared, grievances were being allowed to fester and confidence was fading.   I am not blaming the company for this – even the best organisations find that, in some situations, established practices for ensuring good communication just don’t work.  In these circumstances it sometimes helps to bring in an ‘outsider’ to find out what’s going on, get people round the table and encourage them to start talking again.  In this project I didn’t need to provide all the answers, the people I spoke to had a good idea of what had to be done.  All I did was to listen to views and ideas, co-ordinate the required actions and provide a structure and a plan for the way forward.   The result was a more energised, optimistic team with a clear understanding of what was going to happen over the next 2-3 years.  The vision was once again achievable.

Good communication is undeniably important in business.  It sounds so elementary, I wonder why so many organisation still fail to get it right.  If my experience with a company that knows how to do things well is anything to go by, I fear for the others.

World Economic Forum : More quotas for women

A few weeks ago I wrote about the CBI’s proposal that the UK’s top companies should have targets for increasing the number of women on their Boards.  Now, the World Economic Forum (WEF),  meeting in Davos later this month, has advised its strategic partners that one in every five of their senior executives attending the conference must be a woman.   Female quotas certainly seem to be fashionable at the moment.

Apparently women participants at Davos have never exceeded 17% of all delegates (for several years the proportion of women attendees was between just  9-15%).   According to the WEF Gender Parity Programme, which produced a report in 2010 on The Global Gender Gap, the introduction of quotas is a way of getting things moving.

The WEF has around 100 strategic partners (drawn from some 2,500 companies attending the event).  Strategic partners span all sectors and include companies such as Google, Barclays and Goldman Sachs who are represented at Davos by the highest levels of leadership.  I am sure most of these companies will have no difficulty in meeting the WEF’s new requirements regarding women attendees.  However, with less than three weeks to go to the Conference, I can’t help imagining that, for some of the strategic partners, the reaction to the WEF’s announcement has been one of panic, perhaps involving a frantic search for a female employee (any female!) who was willing and available to join the male posse and tag along to Davos at short notice. 

And of course, as I’ve said before, that’s the problem with quotas.   I accept the argument that, until we have improved the visibility of women in leadership roles and positions of influence, change will be difficult to achieve.  But forcing businesses to put more women at the top does not address the underlying issues relating to women and their development in leadership roles.   Quotas are artificial; they misrepresent the reality and often breed resentment and cynicism about the drive for greater diversity in business.   Perhaps the WEF sees this initiative as just one of a number of actions to address gender imbalance on a global scale.  I hope so – as a single measure, quotas are unlikely to be effective.  

See the WEF report here: WEF Women Leaders Report 2010


Jeanette has over 20 years experience in management and was Chief Executive of AMBA for 7 years. She has worked in both the commercial and public sectors. Having completed her MBA (with distinction) at the Cass Business School, Jeanette was asked to join the school’s academic team as a Visiting Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour. She still teaches postgraduate students at Cass, focusing on leadership and interpersonal skills development, and has contributed to the development of a series of skills development workshops at the business school.

She spent 15 years in the field of further and higher education working in the political arena, educational policy development, qualification and assessment frameworks and quality assurance systems. Prior to joining the Association of MBAs, Jeanette was Director of Education and Training for the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), the international professional association for accounting staff with over 100,000 members and 500 approved training institutions worldwide. In this role, she designed a range of new vocational qualifications in accountancy and led the development of UK standards of competence for accounting technicians.

Jeanette is an accomplished and regular speaker at international conferences and seminars on a range of topics including leadership in business, management education, accreditation and quality assurance in education and women in management.


“As Chief Executive of the Association of MBAs (AMBA), Jeanette had the courage and determination to tackle several challenges facing the Association in an increasingly competitive environment. Under her leadership the Association rapidly developed and established its international profile and reputation as the authority on MBA education and the most respected accreditation agency for MBA courses.”

Sir Paul Judge, President of the Association of MBAs

“Jeanette Purcell is refreshingly unpretentious. Her advice and support are built on the firm foundations of practical experience, knowledge and understanding. She listens to clients and stakeholders and builds on their strengths to deliver tailor-made, effective and sustainable solutions. “

Jane Scott Paul OBE, Chief Executive, Association of Accounting Technicians



“Jeanette has a very pragmatic approach to coaching which was both supportive and constructive for the person she worked with.   She successfully supported a senior manager through some significant changes and we have been really pleased with the outcome of the work she undertook. She took the time to get to know the individual and constructively steered us to a positive outcome.”

Michelle Macadam, Head of Human Resources, Institute of Physics


“Jeanette’s approach has de-mystified the subject of networking for me.  Practical tools and helpful tips have helped me to change my approach and develop a more focussed, quality network.  As a result the business has benefited and I have created new opportunities for my own personal development.”

Dr Katherine Barclay, Director of Solid Dose Manufacturing and Compliance Operations, Pfizer


ICAEW“The ICAEW identified a need to encourage staff across the organisation to raise their visibility and improve their business networking skills.  We hired Jeanette Purcell Associates to deliver a one day training workshop on the topic and we were extremely pleased with the result.  Jeanette’s approach is focused entirely on the client’s needs.  She delivers training that is highly interactive and practical, ensuring that participants leave with a clear commitment to put their training into practice.  The feedback from this workshop was excellent and we would not hesitate in using Jeanette Purcell Associates again.”

Elaine Mulholland, Training and Development Manager, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)


Jeanette was a pleasure to work with. She is highly knowledgeable and passionate about sharing her insight with others. She developed tailor-made content for a series of webinars on ‘resilience’. With growing evidence to show that resilient people do better in exams, their careers and have greater levels of overall happiness, the webinars Jeanette provided aimed to give our audiences – students studying our business and finance qualification, or those thinking of doing so – the understanding (and importantly the practical tools) to help them become more resilient.

Suzanne Heath, Marketing Manager, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)


My coaching sessions with Jeanette are already proving invaluable. In the first few sessions I’ve addressed and resolved an immediate relationship problem and made significant progress by being brave enough to share my long term aspirations. I am revelling in the opportunity the sessions provide to focus on me in an independent, supportive yet challenging environment and the discipline of having to feedback on progress at the next meeting really works for me.

Academic and Non-Exec professional, ICAEW (2015)

I have worked with Jeanette since 2013 while working in different roles and at different organisations.  We have worked through a broad range of topics including developing strategy to deliver meaningful change, building my personal brand, managing people, presentation skills to name but a few.  I find her coaching style and technique excellent and have been able to implement real change in the way that I work and deal with difficult and complex problems and situations.  Jeanette creates a coaching programme bespoke to the individual and takes time to understand how you work, what your strengths and weaknesses are and how you learn and process information, so that she can find the tools and techniques that will work for you.

Claire Angus, Assistant Director, Development, Royal College of General Practitioners





My executive coaching sessions with Jeanette have been most valuable, following an initial 360 review (in 2014) highlighting key opportunities to work on, I have been able to improve big things like corporate planning and strategic networking and small things like time management.  This cathartic experience has allowed me to become a calmer and more productive member of the executive management team at IndigoBlue.  I really look forward to our sessions and value the wisdom and insight Jeanette provides when exploring challenging situations.

John Wright, Head of Public Sector Services, Indigo Blue Ltd

Tratos logo




Jeanette has been an inspiration. I will forever be grateful for her guidance and kindness. I appreciate and treasure everything I have learnt from Jeanette’s coaching.

Zilah Skerritt, PA to Chief Executive, Tratos Ltd.


“Having known Jeanette for some years, she was a natural choice when it came to developing a higher skills framework for the building services engineering sector. She readily understood the brief and that, together with her approachability and integrity, inspired confidence and co-operation amongst the participants. The outcome has been an acknowledgement of the importance of developing higher management skills amongst key industry players and the establishment of a collaborative approach to doing so.”

Iain MacDonald, Head of Education and Training, Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA)

“Marubeni, a Commodities Trading Company, appointed Jeanette Purcell to deliver a workshop for our 3 day European Training Event. Jeanette delivered a very interesting and interactive session. She is an excellent speaker, and demonstrated a high level of knowledge and expertise in this area. The feedback from participants was extremely good, and we would definitely consider inviting Jeanette to deliver future training workshops.”

Rebecca Kemp, Marubeni Human Resources

“I first met Jeanette in 2000 when she was a student on our MBA programme. She was an outstanding student and graduated with a distinction. After graduation she took up an executive role and subsequently was appointed as CEO of the Association of MBAs. For the last five years she has been a visiting lecturer at Cass during which time we have worked together to design and deliver developmental assessment centres and a range of leadership courses for our executive MBAs in both London and Dubai. She is a skilled professional coach and excellent course leader and I recommend her without reservation.”

Paul Dobson BSc PhD CPychol CSci AFBPsS, Cass Business School, City University London

“As a new, full-time working mother I wanted coaching from someone who understood my situation.  Jeanette was able to give me first hand practical advice.  She also helped me set out a strategy to develop my client base.  I now feel more in control, and focussed on my real priorities both at work and at home.”

Nicola Tait, Client Advisor, Capital Asset Management

“I have had the pleasure of working together with Jeanette on an international Womens’ Leadership Development program for one of the leading global organizations in the Pharmaceutical sector. Jeanette demonstrated an excellent capability to work with a large group of people from different cultural backgrounds, the design of her workshops was simply perfect, very well adjusted to the needs of the client, both pertinent at an individual level and highly interactive. Jeanette has the rare capacity to make leadership development a pleasant and an enriching experience. I only hope we can do more work together.”

Marc Timmerman, Partner Axiom Consulting Partners, Managing Director Axiom Consulting Partners Benelux

“JPA undertook a piece of work for the National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services. This provided a detailed analysis of national and international business school programmes for consideration within the design of an executive leadership programme for experienced Directors of Children’s Services. This work was delivered under very tight timescales, to cost, and proved highly valuable.”

Aidan Melling, Operational Director – Children’s Services, National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services

“As an Associate of Make Life Easy, Jeanette has designed and delivered training for our clients by focusing on their needs, and taking time to understand the people, culture and challenges for the company. Drawing on her business experience, her workshops are interactive, practical and fun. Jeanette has the rare ability to engage even the most reluctant participants, sending them away with new insights, skills and ideas to implement immediately. Jeanette has received excellent feedback from work she has delivered for Make Life Easy and has undoubtedly made a positive difference to the clients she has worked with.”

Fiona Hindle, Founder of Make Life Easy Limited,

Specialists in leadership and responsible management

JPA’s consultancy services are based on our experience and understanding of people, their development and their relationships in business, particularly during periods of significant change.

Our approach is based on the philosophy that effective human performance in business (including effective leadership) is achieved by a holistic approach to learning which combines knowledge, experience and skills. The opportunities for working on all three together are so often missed, each one being treated in isolation.

At JPA we look at integrated growth: using skills and experience, for example, to develop knowledge in a specific area. Our philosophy is to develop a more strategic approach to organisational development, focusing on initiatives that draw together and utilise all the components of the person, situation and company in order to really make a difference.

We believe it has proven not only to be a more effective, accelerated approach to staff development but also one that has greater equity for the long term.

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