Coach in the Spotlight: Helen Garland

Coach Helen Garland is passionate about supporting those in their 40s and 50s to find fulfilling work. Here she explains how her practice has evolved since the early haphazard days and shares her successful strategies for attracting new clients.

How did you become a coach?

Before I started coaching, I’d been working in recruitment for over 20 years – I’ve always enjoyed helping people with their careers!

Adding career coaching to my repertoire was a natural next step.

I learned my coaching skills on an ILM (International Leadership Management) programme but initially, my coaching practice lacked structure and was rather ad-hoc.

I had an organic way of working back then which wasn't scalable for the future.

About a year after I started my business, I realised I needed a stronger framework and a process to follow with my clients.


Why did you decide to invest in the Firework programme?

My coaching practice was gradually becoming more focused on career transition and I wanted some extra training to support those types of clients.

I liked the idea of having a specific programme for clients who wanted to explore a career change to work through. 

Firework kept popping up in all my online searches, and so it was the only course that I explored.

I had also been following Careershifters for a while, was keen to work with them and could see the alignment between the two organisations.


Tell us about your Firework experience.

The whole process was so positive.

The full-day course was great; practical and immersive.

Once I had started to implement the programme as part of my coaching practice, I subsequently found the follow-up mentoring calls with the trainers extremely beneficial.


What did you implement in your coaching practice as a result of what you learnt?

I couldn’t wait to begin putting everything I learned through Firework into practice!

I started using the tools the very next day on some willing volunteers, and now I use many of the Firework tools on a daily basis with my clients.


I couldn’t wait to begin putting everything I'd learned into practice!


What has Firework helped you to achieve?

Following the initial training, I felt much more "professional" as a coach.

It’s helped me to create a framework and a programme that I use for all my clients.

Overall I am much more confident of the service that I offer; having a process to follow has boosted my self-belief.

It's helped me to better structure the time with my coachees, the outcomes for each session are more tangible and this has led to better results for my clients.

I’ve taken all sorts of different people through the programme end-to-end; from retirees at 62 years old who want to have one final career to mothers who are returning to work and people who have been made redundant.

The great thing about this programme is that it’s so flexible so I think you can use it with anyone.


The outcomes for each session are more tangible now, which has led to better results for my clients.


How have you built your coaching business? What have been the most effective ways you’ve found clients?

My clients come from a variety of sources, but many of them have been referrals.

I've used both Google and Facebook adverts which have both made more people aware of what I do and generated more enquiries. 

I've also set up a successful in-person meetup group for career changers and quite a few of those people ended up becoming clients!


Tell us more about how you typically work with your clients.

I work with my clients on a one to one basis, for an average of six sessions.

The programme I offer is something I've built around the Firework tools but there is a lot of flexibility in how I work so I can quickly adapt to different clients' needs and give them a bespoke experience.

Some people find that they need lots of help at initial stages of “what next?” and so we'll work together to generate ideas, explore who they are and what matters most to them.

Others already have an idea of what they want to do and so the focus of the coaching sessions is more about how they can achieve that.


There is a lot of flexibility in how I work so I can quickly adapt to different clients' needs.


What results have you helped your clients to achieve?

Generally speaking, my clients finish our sessions with more clarity on their career direction and inspiration on where to go next. The specific outcomes are varied and some are still a work in progress.

For instance, I worked with a higher education lecturer who ultimately created a portfolio career comprising of research & entrepreneurship.

There was an aeronautical engineer who shifted into part-time consultancy with a property management business as a sideline.

An office manager who transitioned into arts administration and returned to art college part-time.

A recruiter who shifted into the social sector.

An IT manager who went into project management.

One of my most memorable clients was an HR manager who’s now working towards becoming a self-employed beauty therapist.


What has your return on investment been from training with Firework?

I’ve seen over 100 clients since I first completed the Firework course in 2017.

Even if I don’t use the programme end-to-end with every client, I use the Firework tools with most of them.

Having the Firework license and practical experience also meant I was able to segue into working with Careershifters.

I have to say, the return on my initial investment has been priceless!


What were your concerns before taking part in Firework?

I was worried that I didn’t have enough coaching experience, but I found that wasn’t the case.

Learning the programme helped me feel more confident as a “newish” coach, so I’m happy that I pursued the Firework course regardless of my concerns.


How do you feel about your career coaching now?

I genuinely love it.

It’s wonderful to help people identify their way forward and to see them enjoy the process of changing careers, rather than be afraid of it.


It’s wonderful to help people identify their way forward and enjoy the process of changing careers, rather than be afraid of it.


What resources do you use to support you in your coaching role?

I meet with a coaching supervisory group every quarter who are great to bounce ideas around with.

I have a wonderful coach that I use for personal development.

The coaching masterclasses with Careershifters have also been a great learning resource for me!


Who do you feel would benefit from the Firework training programme?

Anyone who feels they want to specialise in career coaching and who needs a framework to start that process.


Helen is a licensed Firework career coach based in Somerset and is the founder of My Time To Shine coaching. She works as a coach alongside her role as an executive recruiter and as a specialist in CV writing and interview technique. You can connect with Helen on LinkedIn here.