Coach in the Spotlight: Marie-France Domarin

Marie-France Domarin is a career and lifestyle coach, corporate consultant, and digital nomad. Here, she talks about getting the balance right in her business and working online around the world.

Tell us about your journey into the coaching space.

I believe that coaching has always been part of me, but my career started in the French hospitality industry, where I trained to be a chef.

I worked in operations for the flagship boutique branch of Haagen Dazs in Paris.

My boss noticed I had a gift for nurturing up and coming talent, so she gave me the responsibility of recruiting and developing the new members of staff to feel confident in their work. I loved it.

This is probably where my journey into the world of coaching began.

The jobs that followed took me all over the world – Tahiti, Cyprus, St Lucia and Africa. I was training colleagues in hotels and supporting them with their professional development.

I loved having the opportunity to travel, experience new cultures, learn new languages and see my teams grow.

It was a thrill to be able to transfer all of my knowledge to the individuals in one place, before moving on to the next project somewhere wholly different.

After a while, I wanted a new challenge.

I reflected on what I enjoyed doing, what I was competent in, and what I knew.

It was ironic in a way, as I’d been doing this sort of work already for everybody else except for me!

I made a list of my passions: training, people, hospitality, luxury.

The job had to involve helping others believe in themselves, achieve their potential and develop their careers.

If I was to move countries again, I knew I wanted to be somewhere sunny and warm!

I was in an organisational mindset though, so my thought process was limited to the most plausible careers like HR and talent management. I realised I needed a coach to help me figure out my next step.

I came across a coaching website: Coach U. The homepage was divided into two sections titled “You need a coach” and “You want to be a coach”.

Even though my intention was to be coached, curiosity got the better of me, and I looked at the area dedicated to becoming a coach.

Guess what? Everything that I’d listed on my piece of paper was written in front of me, and it suddenly became crystal clear: coaching was what I was supposed to do.

Interestingly, when I discovered what coaching was, I realised I'd already been doing it for years – albeit informally.

I got qualified with Coach U and decided to become a self-employed coach. I also hired a coach to support me on my journey which turned out to be Marianne (co-creator of Firework). 

She helped me get my ACC certification and worked with me to become a licensed Firework career coach.


When I discovered what coaching was, I realised I'd already been doing it for years!


What did you get out of your Firework training?

I did my training a long time ago before Firework was fully established, so I actually learnt the programme one-on-one with Marianne.

It was great because I could make the materials my own and adapted them for different clients in different cultures.

Being a visual person, I love the Life and Work Stars. The Explore phase in particular is powerful. It allows the client to reflect on who they are and what this means in terms of their purpose.

So many people might believe they know themselves, but actually, it’s not always the case. This is obvious when I speak to people who feel like their lives are going in a direction that they didn’t plan for.

I like the Dream approach too. It opens the doors of possibility and temporarily removes those boundaries that tend to get in the way.

After doing the Firework training, I wanted to do everything and work with everybody!

But eventually, I needed to focus my efforts on a specific audience.

Now I split my time between coaching individuals privately and consulting with organisations.

I think the name of my business – KZNPO – reflects my work well. KZN is short for Kaizen, which is a Japanese word, meaning “continuous positive change”. PO is about “people” and “organisations”. My tag line is “permanent evolution” which sums it all up!


After doing the Firework training, I wanted to do everything and work with everybody!


Who do you typically work with?

I’m not a pure career transition coach, and I’ve evolved my offering over time.

I don’t have a typical client. My niche crosses over into life coaching too. It’s a holistic approach, taking the individual into account at every stage.

To succeed and be happy in life, it’s my belief that what we do should be in complete alignment with who we are.

It’s all about deciding on the lifestyle you want and learning how to lead it authentically.

I had a client in Kenya who, when she came to me, believed she had just two options: either quit her job or stay there suffering.

She was recently promoted, lacked confidence and hadn’t created any boundaries between life and work. I coached her through every aspect of her life.

Now she enjoys more time with family and has taken up painting again. She still works, but that’s no longer all she does.

I work with students, people in a career crisis or those who are about to retire and still want to create an impact or feel fulfilled and purposeful.

It doesn’t have to be about ‘work’ in the traditional sense.

My coaching approach is about helping people get satisfaction out of how they choose to spend their time.

In addition to coaching with individuals, I’ve also capitalised on my previous international corporate experience to build a consultancy arm to my business.

Now I work with organisations optimising the performance of their teams to support both the business culture and their strategy.

The process starts with a diagnosis, before moving onto developing a strategy, training, coaching and finally, project management to help them deliver results.

I might work with them on how to unify the teams, be more entrepreneurial, or more agile.

Part of my job can involve designing and developing training programmes, and I’ll coach individuals and teams within the organisation too.

As I have a lot of different skills to offer, I generally have long term relationships with these organisations.

Endurance is required, both from me and these businesses because it can take time for everyone to begin moving in the same direction and for the impact on leaders to cascade down to the levels below.


My coaching approach is about helping people get satisfaction out of how they choose to spend their time.


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

It took me three years to really get going, and it was quite challenging at times.

There were moments where I lost confidence, but I was well surrounded by supportive friends and family members. At one stage, I remember telling my sister that I wanted to quit. She said “no, you’ve worked too hard” so I kept going.

Not long afterwards, I got my big break with a corporate contract!

I realised early on that I wouldn’t be able to survive financially by offering only private coaching, so this, coupled with the corporate work gives me an excellent balance.

I only need two or three of those corporate contracts each year.

I’m good at building relationships with people, and I put a lot of effort into maintaining those connections and cultivating my network. This has helped me to grow a successful practice.

Nowadays, most of my business now comes via the people I know or have worked with previously. Conversing with people comes naturally to me. I have a genuine curiosity to learn about other people, who they are, where they’re from, and their culture and this helps me forge great relationships.

When I look at my LinkedIn network, I’m proud to say that the majority of those people I’m connected with are people I know personally.

Speaking several languages has opened a lot of doors too. I will happily converse in French (my mother tongue), English, Spanish and Portuguese so this has allowed me to get international coaching and consulting contracts and build relationships with many more people across the globe.

I’m loyal to my clients because most of my business comes through referrals.

Many of my private clients keep coming back to me for different topics because they enjoy being challenged. They can see the impact that coaching can have on their lives and how it can help them make more robust decisions.

In terms of the future, I want to focus on creating other ways to work digitally.

I’m launching an online course next year, which is aimed at those who perhaps aren’t ready to invest in coaching but want to do something proactive and work on themselves.


There were moments where I lost confidence, but I was well surrounded by supportive friends and family members.


How would you describe your lifestyle as a coach on the move?

When I finished school, I knew I wanted a job where I’d get to see the world, discover new cultures and enjoy great food! That’s how I ended up in international hospitality.

When I made the change from employee to entrepreneur, I asked myself how I could continue living this sort of lifestyle.

Working online was the obvious answer.

I'd already worked remotely with various teams around the world in my previous jobs, so actually being a digital nomad was a natural solution.

I’ve always loved travelling and being on the move – it just works for me and my values.

After spending 2019 in Lisbon, early this year, I was privileged to do some work for an organisation in the Caribbean. It was initially only meant to be for a few weeks but, due to the pandemic, seven months later, I’m still here in Martinique! 


I wanted a job where I’d get to see the world, discover new cultures and enjoy great food!


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

I believe coaching is my mission in life.

I’ve been guided to do this, and it’s part of my identity.

I’m always grateful and humbled to see the results of the people I work with.

I’m also motivated to keep learning and to continue to do things better.

Of course, it’s nice to enjoy a financial reward for the work I do, but to hear from my clients how their lives have changed as a result of working with me – that’s like being paid twice!


Marie-France is a licensed Firework career coach as well as a lifestyle/business coach and corporate consultant. She loves discovering new cultures, eating great food and a warm climate! Find out more about Marie-France at