It was my curiosity for people that led me to study psychology. I am fascinated by the potential of creativity and talent that every single person uniquely owns and how, when nurtured, this can positively impact not only their own life but also the life of others around them. Working and contributing this talent is central to all of our lives. We typically do this throughout our careers. For the knowledge worker, careers are rarely about just looking for a job, they are increasingly about writing our own professional narratives. This insight encouraged me to pursue a career in human resources. A role I felt that would enable me to support the nurturing people’s talent and encourage them to grow as professionals, not only to thrive as individuals but also to contribute towards a greater good as well as the success of the organization they work in.
After almost 20 years in the corporate environment, where I had worked primarily in HR at the IAEA, Hewlett-Packard and the European Central Bank, I fulfilled my own career dream to become my own boss and founded the workplace atelier. In this creative and innovative space, I offer services that reflect my values for work and aim to share my knowledge and experience with my clients and students.
One of the things I realized is that life long learning has played an essential role in designing my own career path. I not only continuously attended training and workshops, eventually gained a coaching certificate myself; I even successfully completed a doctorate mid-career and while I was employed. When once asking for a student discount at a box office, the seller looked at me and said “Well you don’t look like a student. What are you studying?” “I am a student of life,” I responded gleefully while producing my student card for him to see.
For me, coaching is a form of learning. I remember my first manager who once comforted me by saying “Only people who work make mistakes!” He was my first career coach, even before coaching was labeled as such. He not only promoted me to develop my own professional skills and shared his experiences but also cared for my personal well-being. Most importantly, he taught me that it was alright to ask for support.
Equal to learning skills and asking for support is developing an understanding of what drives you. This, I think, that this is the fundamental red thread of paving and balancing a satisfying career path. Your personal drivers will evolve as you grow, likewise, the environment around you will also keep changing and keep offering a new array of possibilities. I think that career coaching supports the ability to scan for opportunities, understand your own strength and value, create a skills toolkit in the application process and build personal resilience to deal with setbacks and obstacles. Designing a career also means preparedness to learn and work hard, but above to dream your own definition of success. In this way, designing a career is a dynamic and fun process of continual challenge and change, and career coaching is an on-going process of self-reflection and self-leadership.
As I also continue to learn, discover and teach; I hope to help others to a fulfilling career journey full of adventure and stories to tell. There is nothing more rewarding for me than to celebrate the success of the people I have coached.
- By Neha Chatwani, see the short video below
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