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About me

Why do I do what I do?

I am lucky to have found my niche, where the skillset I have built up over my eclectic career is very relevant, and it enables me to help people delivering public services to make things better for the people they support. When all goes as intended, along the way everyone involved grows a bit in confidence, agency, wonder, and satisfaction. And that is a Good Thing.

My values:

• growth (always be learning!)
• integrity (to thine own self be true)
• kindness (for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle)

I am French, also half Singapore-Chinese, neurodivergent (AuDHD), and nonbinary, so that makes me a little bit special in very many ways!

My background:

In short form, my c.v. is here as a pdf.
In long form, this is my background and how I came to do what I do (click to reveal!):

Systems thinking

Raised on James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small books set in the Yorkshire Dales, I decided when I was 6 years old that I wanted to be a vet and work with farm animals when I grew up, and I maintained this direction through a first degree in Biology and an MSc in Agriculture. Without noticing it I absorbed thinking in systems from micro to global, and the interconnectedness of all living things.

Social justice

With a fresh degree and no work experience yet, I joined a management development scheme in the fresh produce sector, where I encountered steep power differentials between retailers and suppliers, and structural inequality woven through an industry where, by its very nature, the product is either not ripe yet or already going off – and a focus on logistics at the expense of people.

Data analysis

At the end of the two years of training and secondments, I was relieved to be recruited to a multinational market research company, to put my budding analytical skills to use on the kind of goods that you can buy in supermarkets (in my case chewing gum, juices and cordials, baby formula and cleaning products). I developed my presentation skills and how to craft a narrative to accompany my data analysis, but as a colleague said, “at the end of the day, it’s only shopping”, and I left after a death in my close family left me questioning my purpose.

Personal and professional development

I sustained myself with admin and research support jobs while I retrained as a complementary therapist, and holistic massage taught me how we carry our mental and emotional patterns in our bodies and tissues. But dissatisfied with working relationships that build a dependence on the massage therapist fixing the client’s pain on a regular basis, I trained in a range of coaching skills and approaches, to support people’s personal &/or professional change. I learnt to encounter any situation or behaviour with deep compassion, stemming from the realisation that we are all applying strategies that we learnt in our past so that they could keep us safe, whether they still serve us or not.

Facilitation

I was naturally drawn to facilitation and group processes that have a similar approach to my understanding of coaching: that people have the knowledge and resources to address their own problems, and that our role as coaches and facilitators isn’t to provide answers but to support their process of discovery. I trained in Open Space Technology, Action Learning Sets, and learnt a range of formal and informal tools and methods like Liberating Structures. I strive to create thoughtful and compassionate spaces where participants build trust, respect, understanding and shared learning, that they can turn into action.

Co-production and involvement

From there it was only a short step to co-production and community involvement, and centering the voices of citizens and service users to make sure people, and especially those most marginalised and under-represented, have a voice in the decisions that affect their lives. All the skills and capabilities I learnt along the way came together to enable me to develop and share models of practice, and use training and project support to take people on the co-production journey of discovery. It’s about teams and organisations un-learning old patterns and re-learning new ways of working based on trusted relationships, and inviting their service users and communities to engage with them as actors of equal value. Pooling wisdom, experience, knowledge and skills means designing together more appropriate and more sustainable solutions to address complex social challenges that affect all our lives.

Collaboration and constructive conflict

Along the way I soon realised that the “soft” skills (which are really the most subtle and difficult skills!) required to do this work well include dealing with conflict constructively as a tool for change, and that effective collaboration (between team members, between teams, between organisational partners) is really key to enable effective co-production with citizens and service users; so I also apply my relational skillset to collaboration and leadership development contexts, where individual change enables organisational change, and vice versa.

Connection and common purpose

Building connection and common purpose are really the thread that run through everything I do, in work and outside of work – some of my favourite volunteering experiences have been around supporting community learning and skill sharing (like with Trade School), and projects that bring people together to collaborate on solving challenges (like with ThinkARK and with Good For Nothing).

Things I enjoy in my work
  • sensemaking and helping others make sense of “it” (an approach, a situation, a process)
  • working in complexity, where relationships are the operating principle
  • supporting teams on their journey towards better collaboration &/or co-production
  • creating the conditions for people to show up, connect, and develop solutions together
  • sharing the skills I have learnt with others who are newer to this work
  • holding spaces for people to process and consolidate their learning
Things I like to read, think, and talk about

Non-exhaustive list in no specific order: complexity, resilience, leadership, nurturing diversity and building community, innovation and continuous learning, kindness.
Might add more to this as they occur to me.