Next up on our coaching team series is Neda, our newest Business Coach. Wondering what brought this sunny Californian to WhiteHat’s door? Read on to find out…

3 guesses at Neda’s favourite book…

1. Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your professional experience to date?

Hi, I’m Neda and I’m a Business Coach at WhiteHat! I’m a born and bred California girl, but have been living in London since 2015. My background is originally in academia, where I focused on Business Psychology and worked as a tutor, teaching assistant and mentor in both the UK and the US. I then worked as a Talent and Resourcing Specialist at FOX EMEA, working with colleagues across all levels of seniority and building frameworks to specifically develop our junior talent. I’m easy to talk to and always up for a good conversation (especially if it’s about Harry Potter, Disney or food!).

2. Why did you decide to become a WhiteHat coach?

The Business Coach role at WhiteHat really felt like a perfect fit for me. I’m able to combine my academic background with my industry experience to help develop and bring out the best in others on their own learning journeys. I look forward to work every day, knowing that I have the opportunity to interact with so many brilliant apprentices alongside some truly remarkable companies (not to mention my WhiteHat family!). Nothing gets me going quite like seeing others reach their personal goals, and being able to bring my own knowledge and enthusiasm to the table just makes it the ideal role for me.

3. Can you tell us about the steepest learning curve you’ve ever experienced in your life?

In the States, graduates have a cost-effective option to spend their first two years of university at a community college. My circumstances at the time meant that I had to attend community college on a full course load whilst also working full time at a local coffee shop 5 days a week. I’d work from 5 AM-2PM, attend classes from 3–10PM, revise well into the night and do it all again the next day! I felt frustrated at first, thinking of how high my marks could be if I didn’t have to work, and watching my peers outperform me because I didn’t have as much time to revise. It sounds clichéd, but I quickly realised that when you rise to the challenge, you are actually capable of accomplishing more than you ever thought possible. I made my circumstances work for me instead of letting them dictate my life, and eventually found I could even manage extracurricular activities and a social life! Since then, I don’t see setbacks as limitations, but rather as opportunities that can only continue to develop me. The ultimate lesson learned was the importance of perspective: we can’t always choose the cards we’re dealt with, but we CAN choose how we play them!

4. How do you keep up to date with your field’s latest trends, tools and best practice?

LinkedIn is an excellent way to stay informed and share ideas in the professional sphere. I’m constantly reading up on best practices, current news and general advancements in the field by following various INfluencers, professional groups and company pages.

5. What do you think the biggest hot topic in your industry is for 2018?

2017 saw apprenticeships really gain traction in the working world — 2018 will be all about apprentices showing what they’re capable of and fighting the notion that university is the only acceptable route to employment.

6. How would you describe your coaching style in three words?

1. Bespoke — I tailor my style to the individual (but always ensure it’s still fun!).

2. Interactive — I’m all about sharing ideas, discussion and collaboration rather than talking at others.

3. Dedicated — I can always be counted on for support and motivation, and I’m here to help achieve success.

7. What are your favourite qualities in a learner? What are you looking for in your apprentices?

Authenticity is my favourite quality in a learner. As a coach, I prefer when an apprentice tells me that they’re off their game, that they’re having trouble with content, that they’re feeling insecure about the future, or on the flip side that they’re not challenged enough and need more. The more genuine an apprentice is with me, the more I can be the coach that they need. I also really value when learners take initiative — I love when apprentices get ahead of their work or go the extra mile without being instructed to, and when the tables turn and they’re teaching me something new as a result!

8. If you had one piece of advice for your younger self starting out in their career, what would it be?

I wish I’d been less hard on myself and enjoyed the ride instead! We are all on a journey, and it can of course be demotivating to feel like you’re not succeeding or are behind your peers. I’ve learned that every failure, and likewise every success, comes at a time where we need to be taught something. Embracing unexpected setbacks and my own personal mistakes has only been positive as I’ve progressed through my career.

9. What are you currently teaching yourself/learning?

I’m currently learning how to make some really sweet bowls on the wheel in my ceramics class. I’ve also started learning German, though all I can do successfully at the moment is order a glass of water!

10. What makes you tick outside of work?

I love traveling and learning new languages, cooking/eating/watching the Food Network, being a London Afternoon Tea connoisseur, reciting every line to any Harry Potter or Disney movie, and just absorbing knowledge in general! I’m also shamelessly obsessed with my mum and my senior pup, Sammie, who are both back home currently enjoying the California sunshine when it’s meant to be mid-winter!