Tara Honeywell is the Head of Commercial Ventures working for Barnardo’s– a charity that supports and nurtures the UK’s most vulnerable children.
Tara was in the early stages of launching Commercial Ventures, a brand new department that needed investment to grow. After several months of working alone, Tara was feeling daunted, overwhelmed, and frustrated by the constant challenges she faced. Plus she was getting close to burnout.
Working with Vincita’s Founder, Caroline, Tara got the structure and tools to perform at her best under pressure. Learning invaluable skills to become a black belt in stakeholder management, maintain her energy, and secure investment to successfully launch innovative commercial ventures.
Here’s her story.
I needed someone objective to help me get traction. Move through the interference and understand what was preventing me from making progress moving commercial ventures forward. Setting up a new function, initially it was daunting but exciting at the same time. Then as time passed it became more and more complicated and at certain times overwhelming.
The main challenge was this was a very different operation to what we as a business had done before. No one in the business had the experience in this area, which made my day-to-day quite a lonely place to be.
I had the advantage of knowing Caroline before I embarked on kind of commissioning her to support us. Caroline is probably the best sales person I’ve ever met in my life. I’ve seen what she can do first hand when it comes to managing senior stakeholders. I’ve always known she is capable of providing value, but more than that I trust her. I think when you are working with someone in this way, where it’s very close. It’s really important that you’re able to not only get on, on a personal basis, but to have respect and trust.
It’s been brilliant and really rewarding on a number of levels.
Caroline is laser focused on results. She is definitely not woolly in her approach whatsoever, which I have had in the past working with other coaches.
In the beginning, I would think ‘I really need to be doing something else’. But having the session with Caroline meant I could meet challenges head on without becoming overwhelmed. I think that can’t be underestimated in terms of how that then impacts your whole well being. It enables you to really be doing the best you can in a business context.
Every session we would focus on:
- ‘What’s the Northstar?’
- ‘What are we trying to do?’
- ‘What’s the end result?’
She was able to draw out the information in a way that helped me structure and understand it. Enabling me to make decisions off the back of it. This was really a crucial part of why I achieved a huge amount in a short space of time. I would leave every session energised and enthusiastic to get back to it.
First we created the blueprint and structure around my strategy and objectives. I got clarity on the resources and tools I needed. Caroline offered both supportive challenges and gave me the ability to counter-challenge. This helped me perform under pressure and increased my professional maturity. It also gave me the confidence to become the master of my own destiny.
I also received huge value in terms of coaching. I think it’s because Caroline is a very empathetic and personable person, which made a big difference. Her coaching on my management style and leadership allowed me to get the best out of every situation.
The biggest surprise to me is the fact that coaching can be so collaborative and such an effective mechanism. Particularly when you’re working with someone outside of the organisation. Caroline got right under the skin of the environment, the culture and and the kind of opportunities and challenges that I was working within. Her ability to play back really relevant insights helped me make decisions.
When you have a good coach, you surprise yourself because you are the one coming up with the answers. Sometimes you think that you have no idea what the answer is but by the end of the session you’ve come up with the answer.
The value Caroline has given me goes way beyond the Barnardo’s brief. There is a lot of opportunity on the horizon that wasn’t there before.
The biggest breakthrough was the fact she managed to drum it into me that I can’t do everything in a day. There was a point where I was really close to burning out just trying to do everything. I’ve finally learnt to stop.
I’ve taken away from this experience that we’re not superhuman. You literally can’t do everything. It’s very easy to digress and go down these rabbit holes and Caroline’s very good at politely and effectively, bringing you back to the task in hand.
I now bring my whole self into the boardroom, to partners and to my team. I’ve learnt how best to influence and inform stakeholders across the organisation.
The clarity at every step of this journey made setting something up from scratch possible. I’ve become the agent of change in the organisation. I’ve been able to spin out the function, build credibility and trust and start delivering successful results.
- The department is up and running
- We got it off the ground
- Got engagement
- Created something never-been-done before in a complex environment
- Built a team
- Made investments and launched our first venture.
- I’ve built networks and credibility in areas that interest me – taking part in a number of research groups, and round tables, which have all expanded my ambition.
I think it’s easy to have reservations about embarking on a 3-month partnership with Vincita. Especially if you haven’t had any effective coaching before. All I can say is that it’s really advantageous. Understanding what drives you as an individual and how you can capitalise on that will help you gain the traction you need.