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Change - the Authentic Tea podcast with Fiona

As an accredited European Mentoring and Coaching Council master coach, Fiona shares her extensive experience and expertise in healthcare and behaviour change with medical and public health professionals.


Fiona is an executive coach and career counsellor as well as a trained mindfulness-based cognitive therapy teacher. Her background in Public Health allows her to support individuals to grow as leaders. With Fiona Day Consulting, Fiona helps leaders reach their potential and meet the challenges and demands of working in healthcare.


For Episode 23 of the Authentic Tea podcast, we are joined by Fiona.


Rach (00:00):

Today I am delighted to be joined by Fiona as an accredited European mentoring and coaching council, master coach. Fiona shares her extensive experience and expertise in healthcare and behavior change with medical and public health professionals. Dana is an executive coach and career counselor, and as well as mindfulness based cognitive therapy teacher her background in public health allows her to support individuals to grow and develop as leaders. With the end of day consulting Fiona is helping leaders to reach their potential and meet the challenges and demands of working in healthcare. Welcome Fiona.


Fiona (00:39):

Hi, Rach. Good morning. Great to be here.


Rach (00:41):

Thank you for joining us today. And I'm excited to chat more about what you're offering through your coaching and through the leadership counseling that you're doing. So maybe you could just explain a little bit, I know at the moment you're working a lot with leaders to transform health leadership. How did your own experience of leadership roles lead you to identify this as something that you wanted to pursue in your own career?


Fiona (01:06):

When I was a young medical student, I was part of a peer mentoring scheme. So, I've always been really interested in developmental approaches to how professionals grow and develop. And I did a psychology degree as part of my medical school and intercalated degree in psychology, which really rocked my world. I focused on the psychology, you know, the new science of positive psychology, which was the first course in the UK, which actually specialized in positive psychology in the very early 1990s. And it really rocked my world. It created the foundation for the rest of my career. So I was then attracted into public health because I was interested in systems change and leadership. So I've always been kind of really interested in that area. And then as my own career progressed, I became, you know, a consultant became an associate medical director and then managing large teams, managing people, you know, influencing at scale across large populations and across multiple organizations. I had to really focus hard on my own development to be effective in that context because obviously, you know, leadership is something that is the journey of a lifetime, but like yoga, you know, you never get there. It's not, you never kind of become tick a box and you're, you're there, it's something that you can always refine, improve, learn more about. And so as part of my own leadership development. I experienced executive coaching for myself as a leader to help me to, you know, lead larger and larger teams at scale to have influence particularly that when public health then moved into local government and the role changed a lot, you know, you were suddenly influencing politicians and, and working in a very different way. So my own experience of executive coaching then sort of fed my existing influence about interest in leadership and how that worked.


Fiona (03:06):

And so I, I realized actually after a period of time that I was spending a lot of time developing my own staff and that people were increasingly coming to me for mentoring, for leadership development. And then when I took on my associate medical director role, I had a lot of new GP leaders. So they were established GP partners, very skilled and experienced at running GP practices, but they didn't have the same set of leadership competencies that were needed to work in a system leadership role rather than within a practice. So I then became, you know, curious about, well, how could I be more effective in this role, myself in developing other people? And how could I really integrate all the you know, my previous experience and learning and to be really to add real value to these emerging leaders. So that's when I went and did the executive coaching training myself about seven years ago now, I think,


Rach (04:09):

Thank you. It's really great to hear how that's progressed over time. And I'd love to explore a little bit more about your own experience of the executive coaching, because that sounds like that was really a point where you started to realize everything else you've been doing was really coaching, just not in a formal way. Could you share a little bit about what that was like and what you saw change in you and the potential that you identified?


Fiona (04:34):

So I had mentoring as part of my registrar role, and then as a new consultant, it was actually a condition of my first consultant appointment. Because I was going from, I had experience of managing people, but on quite a small scale to suddenly managing a team of over 20 people. So one of the conditions of my appointment to that first consultant post was that I had professional mentoring as part of that. And actually the mentor that I worked with at that time was my previous boss from you know, the job where I had been a sort of senior registrar, but it wasn't quite still quite an informal relationship. It wasn't, as you know, there weren't, you know, in coaching and mentoring, when you do it at a professional level, like I do, it's very much within a context of a learning agreement contract between people. And so it wasn't as formalized as that, but it was, you know, that was, that really helps me to learn and grow. That was a much more of a, you know, somebody giving me the benefit of their expertise. I kind of much more of a mentoring relationship. So somebody guiding me using coaching techniques as well, but also guiding me. But then when I went on to do the aspiring director of public health program, that was the first time that I experienced executive coaching, which was much more a relationship of equals working together around my goals and the person that who was my executive coach at the time. It didn't from a medical law, public health background at all. She was just a really great coach and she, you know, asked the right kind of questions to help me to work out whether or not that was the career path that I wanted to follow for myself. And I realized oh actually, there's a, there's another methodology here, which is, you know, in the professional context, because my master's was in health promotion and health education back in the nineties. And you know, a lot of that around the behaviour science coupled with my psychology degree was around behaviour change. So, I, you know, I'm very, very strong, sort of, you know, academic theory background underpinning my coaching practice, but I realized that, you know, there were these roles of where you could become really skilled at coaching and mentoring. And that, that was, you know, there's additional training that you could do to do to do that. And you could really add value to highly skilled people who had to make career-related decisions or who wanted to be their best selves as a leader. So I, I learnt, well, I learnt that it was something that I knew that I was already really interested in because it had, you know, it had been very much alongside me every step of the way when I finished my masters, actually back in the nineties, I remember saying to my husband, actually, I want to do this thing, developing people, but I don't know what it is or, anyway, so I kind of carried on with my medical training, became a consultant.


Fiona (07:32):

So it feels like I've kind of gone back to a lot of different things. And so my experience of executive coaching enabled me to then start to integrate all my different interests into something that was really unique to me, but really played to my own strengths so that I could really offer high impact interventions to senior doctors, medical and public health leaders, to help them to improve outcomes at scale, reduce health inequalities, but also to, you know, to be the best leaders that they can be and also to help them with their career. So separately, I trained as a career counselor as well, to help people who are feeling stuck, which is actually really very common. And you know, anybody who's younger than a few years off retirement will probably have a multi-stage career. You know, that kind of idea of three years of three, three stages in your professional life of education employment for 30, 40 years in the same job or the same career and retirement, that model is rapidly going out of the window. We can see that, you know, lots of senior professionals they've got to the next stage in their career. And then they wonder, well, where do I go from here? So yeah. So it's about being able add value to people at that stage.


Rach (08:57):

It's fascinating how it, your description sounds like you've come full circle. I love that, that there's, there's clearly been a thread the whole time through your career, even though, like you say, you've experienced different elements that clinical, and then the public health working as a public health consultant, getting to that very high-level role where you then also identified that you wanted to carry on and move again. So it's really great to hear. And I, this is part of the reason that I'd like to share people's stories, because like you say, so many people can feel stuck at some point and yet identifying maybe those values, all those things that can drive you, I think allows people to find those opportunities and those openings.


Fiona (09:40):

Yeah, yeah, absolutely.