Coach in the Spotlight: Audrey Cairo

Following a career in recruitment, coach Audrey Cairo felt compelled to help people find not just a job, but their life purpose. Here, she shares how she's built her multi-faceted coaching practice.

How did you discover coaching?

My career has always been about working with, and for, people.

Following my BA in Social Work, I followed my fascination with people’s stories into the world of media.

I moved to London during the recession and found myself working in media recruitment.

Every day, I was having different conversations with people seeking jobs in media, TV and film. Those discussions could be quite deep.

Sometimes people were applying for roles that didn't seem to align with who they were as an individual or with their dreams. I couldn’t not challenge them on it.

They would remark that it was refreshing and helpful to have an honest conversation with a consultant, even when I sometimes ended up talking them out of a job!

Recruitment had always been a 'pitstop' for me; I wasn't planning on developing my career in that industry.

So, an idea began to form in my mind.

I considered what part of my job I enjoyed the most and wanted to take forward.

I loved deep conversations, but the thought of being a therapist or counsellor didn't appeal, so I decided to explore coaching.

I began by having some informal informational interviews with coaches over coffee.

It was a useful experiment, as it gave me so much insight into the options and opened up doors to new connections.

It seems I was the only person who was surprised that I became a coach.

My first 'guinea pig' coaching session happened in Café Rouge.

It was there that I realised how powerful the coaching process could be, both for my client and for me.

Whatever happened in that moment was simply magical.


It seems I was the only person who was surprised that I became a coach.


Why did you decide to become a career coach with Firework?

After my initial coach training, career coaching was an obvious route to follow, given my experiences in recruitment.

I needed a framework to use, and after some research, I decided to become a Firework licensed coach.

When I walked away from the training day, I felt so much better equipped. I had three potential ways to guide my clients through career transition.

I launched a 12 session programme, a nine-session alternative, and a bespoke coaching experience.

Some clients prefer the structure of a package, whilst others like the flexibility of a tailor-made approach. The latter is what I've done most of since my training.

The tools I have lend themselves well to career transition, but I do enjoy working through more general life coaching issues as well.

I've had people work with me and come to realise that they don't want to change careers at all – it's something else in their lives that needs changing.

Within my work as a career coach, I like to explore a client's life as a whole.

I've found it beneficial to have a session at the start of the process to focus on the 'life' part.

We explore the inner saboteur and the obstacles.

I believe it's important for clients to recognise their own internal conversations, which sometimes prevent them from taking action.

Without this exploration, the whole process can end up being counter-intuitive.


It's important for clients to recognise their own internal conversations, which sometimes prevent them from taking action.


How did you get a return on your investment with Firework?

It happened quickly.

The packages worked well, and so I made my money back within two clients.

For me, I was looking for a framework to help clients with career transition.

I got this, along with a toolbox full of different exercises that I could use with life coaching clients too.

Overall, Firework has been an excellent investment.


Who do you work with?

I wouldn't say I have a particular niche, though my character does appeal to individuals who like a non-corporate approach.

I initially worked with a lot of creatives and those in the media industry, because of my background in recruitment.

More recently, I've started working with clients on areas outside of the career coaching space.

I've launched a new group coaching programme for women who've experienced vaginismus. It tends to be an unspoken topic, but based on my own experiences, it's something I am passionate about removing the stigma from.

There's so much emotion and psychological challenge wrapped up in this condition.

The women I work with may feel a lot of shame and have negative thoughts about themselves.

They often feel alone in their challenge so I created a coaching programme to empower them in a positive way and to rebuild their confidence.

We're a couple of months into the programme, but I already see the courageous steps they've taken and it's amazing.

The programme is helping them connect with themselves, their bodies and with other women.

They recognise the negative internal chatter that stops them from finding potential solutions.

It's been a real privilege to gain their trust.

In many ways, it's been an emotional experience for me, but I'm fulfilling my purpose.

Even if I never repeat this programme, I'll still feel like it's been my best work.

My personality and approach bring a sense of lightness to the subject of vaginismus.

Life coaching can be serious at times, but it doesn't mean that it can’t also be fun.

In fact, when I make a coaching agreement with any new client, I like to include having ‘fun’ as an essential part of our alliance.

It’s important for me to create an environment where clients can choose to step onto the 'emotional rollercoaster' of coaching and to not be afraid of it.


Even if I never repeat this programme, I'll still feel like it's been my best work.


How have you grown your coaching business? What have you found to be the most effective ways of attracting new clients?

I started my business by creating my website, and putting flyers in local cafes and shops.

I had a profile on a life coach directory site too, so my clients started coming from all sorts of places!

Now I get most of my work through referrals.

Because of this, I don't feel the need to actively market myself. My preference is to meet people face to face and go for coffee! 

In addition to my private practice, I also work with Sanctus. They support organisations in bringing good mental health to the workplace.

For the last two years, I've also coached with Spark Inside, a charity working with young males in adult prisons.

It can be easy for these young men to give up, especially when others have given up on them.

Coaching can empower them to take back control of their lives and their future.

We follow the Hero's Journey process, exploring where they are in their journey and where they want their story to go next.

It can be heavy at times, and some stories are challenging to hear, but it's also rewarding.

When I think about building a successful business, it's about perseverance.

For me, that success means working in a way that brings me joy and allows me to live comfortably.

So far, everything has worked out well!


Tell us about some of the results you've been able to help your clients achieve.

Coaching doesn't always result in massive tangible changes.

Of course, there are some!

For example, one of my clients decided to join the police after a long career as a chef. That was a significant shift for him.

For me though, the most exciting outcomes are the ones involving an attitude or mindset shift.

Like when a client realises what they want and what they need to do next. That's exciting to see.

I love hearing about the ripple effects of coaching too.

I worked with a woman who wanted my help to start her own business. During our coaching, she made a critical self-discovery and found herself able to reach out to her mum again after a long period of estrangement.

It's this sort of unpredictability that makes coaching so enjoyable.


The most exciting outcomes are those involving an attitude or mindset shift.


How do you see your work evolving in the future?

I feel like I've only achieved 30% of what's possible for me.

I'm now coaching in the areas that matter most to me, but I'm still scratching the surface of my energy, input and learning.

I don't know where my work will take me. I'm not someone who rushes into each new endeavour.

COVID has given me time to pause and focus on new projects. I'm now allowing myself to 'fail forward'.

My inner saboteur gets in the way sometimes, but my learning over the past six months have given me the confidence to just go for it.

I'm excited to be developing new initiatives, and so far, it's going well.


What's the most rewarding aspect of coaching for you?

When a client realises that despite their inner saboteur, they are able to find or reconnect with their spark.

Those "ah-ha!" moments are major highlights – which often makes me want to do a celebratory dance!

If they can hold on to those lessons, they can step more easily into the changes they want to make for themselves.

It’s great to see them become more comfortable in their skin, own their mind and find a greater sense of fulfilment.


Audrey Cairo is a licensed Firework career coach who's passionate about restoring confidence in her clients. Originally from the Netherlands, Audrey lived in Spain before finally settling in London. Find out more about Audrey at