Having recently completed a 6-month Coaching Program with The Executive Mindset, Graham sits down with the Head of Strategic Procurement at Star Procurement, Jamie Cooper, to discover his experience of the coaching, how it helped his goal of becoming more strategic, and how it has impacted him in his role when managing 20 colleagues.
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Graham: I'm delighted to be joined by Jamie Cooper, who has just completed his first six-month executive coaching program with us at The Executive Mindset. Today, I really want to take this opportunity to ask Jamie what his experience was with that program. But, before I do, I'm going to ask Jamie to introduce himself and tell you who he is and what he does.
Jamie: Thanks, Graham. I'm Jamie Cooper and I work for Star Procurement, which is the shared procurement service for Stockport, Trafford, Thameside and Rochdale Council. In January of this year, I was promoted to the Head of Strategic Procurement at Star. We operate a category structure and I'm sitting within the professional team. We're a team of around 40, so I have the expectation to manage a team of around 20 or so who sit under me. I was put forward to do the coaching program by our Assistant Director and here I am today to join you.
Graham: Jamie, you were recently promoted as you explained, and as part of that fast-tracking, your boss invited you to take part in the coaching program. What was your reaction to that when they first mentioned the idea?
Jamie: I know that other members of our team had been on the coaching, so when I was given the opportunity, to be honest, I was delighted. It's something which I've always wanted to do myself. I did some coaching when I did my studies way back then, but it was nothing in terms of the size and scale of the coaching opportunity I was given here. As you mentioned, I was new to this post in January, taking on a lot more responsibility, not just in terms of managerial responsibilities, but how I would actually work more strategically within the organisation. So, through conversations with my Assistant Director, to who I report directly, it was brought to my attention the opportunity to actually undertake this coaching. They gave me a little bit of insight into what would entail, and as I say, it was something in which I was thrilled to take part.
Graham: As you have found out, the coaching goals are really designed by you - you identify what they are - and, in this context, you identified seven big areas of personal development that you wanted to work on. How did you find that particular part of the program - because obviously, it’s demanding and challenging - how did you find the six months of the program?
Jamie: I think after our last session today, where we've actually rounded up and taken stock of what the seven objectives are and what the progression has been towards them, one of the big things I've noticed is how closely link to a lot of them are, and to ensure that continuous improvement and performance, not just by myself but by the organisation itself. It was how all those were interlinked and I think through some of the in-depth conversations we've had around some of the particular topics how they interlink with each other, has just been detrimental to my own progression. In terms of the topics, if you'd like Graham, I'm happy to go through what some of them were and I can talk about what my experience was in terms of some of their discussions.
Graham: One of them, and you've touched on it, was understanding and being more strategic. How did, how did you feel that part of the program worked?
Jamie: I'll be completely honest, from the outset I had an idea around what it meant to actually work strategically, and especially coming from a more operational background in some of my earlier years, it's sometimes difficult to actually see what it actually means to work strategically. I think how we clearly define what that actually means to work strategically, what it means to work tactically, and then the more operational stuff. Defining them was pivotal really for my understanding and for me to ensure that I am actually working strategically - it has been massively impactful for me in terms of what some of my objectives are, how I actually work with the wider leadership team within Star and that dynamic to ensure that we are actually reaching the strategic goals.
For me, it was actually that definition of what it is and some of the examples which Graham used as part of that to help emphasise it was really important for me to actually see yes, I am working strategically. I do understand what the goals are of the organisation and how that would then impact then on the tactical work and the more operational stuff.
Graham: So as a leader now at the end of the program and going forward into the future, what's your view of coaching executive coaching programs in terms of how you might use them yourself again in the future, or how you might use them with people that you work with?
Jamie: It's something which I've found incredibly useful and it's not just necessarily just the objectives as we just mentioned, which have been set, it's just having somebody to be able to talk through about what some of your career objectives are, what some of the potential issues are, or what some of the obstacles we have as an organisation and get a second opinion on stuff in some respects. To be able to offload things from day-to-day working life and have somebody who has the knowledge and experience, and who's been through similar situations actually to support me through that actual process.
One of the things I did find particularly useful is some of the ‘antidotes’, which were used as part of the coaching from your own career Graham, and that helped me to put things into perspective. Yes, the coaching program is something I would definitely recommend to anyone really.
Graham: Great. Jamie, I really appreciate your time in helping us with this edition of The Coaching Conversation. I'm going to let you go now, but thanks very much for your time and I wish you all the best for the future.
Jamie: Thank you, Graham. Cheers.
That was the latest edition of The Coaching Conversation. I hope you found it interesting. I hope you found it useful. You can find out more about our coaching programmes at theexecutivemindset.co.uk
If you want to reach out you can send us an email at email@example.com you can book a free 15-minute coaching session at theexecutivemindset.co.uk which will give you a really good feel for how coaching can help you.
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