Coach in the Spotlight: Vicki Kirk

After reaching a crisis point in her career, Vicki Kirk decided to train as a coach. Here's how she's built her practice and now helps clients in a similar situation to the one she was in.

Tell us about your journey into coaching.

I'd been working as a forensic accountant in a variety of companies in the City for about 10 years.

At the time I was working on a very difficult project, with lots of long hours, and I wasn’t managing the pressure well. As the project deadline approached, I hit a crisis point and I cracked.

My company were very supportive and offered to sign me off with stress and have me come back in a month or two.

They also offered me an alternative; providing me with some coaching to help me deal with the issues that led me to that point.

I took the coaching option, without really knowing what it entailed. After my first session, I was inspired – I knew that this was what I wanted to be doing.

I hadn’t been really enjoying my job for a while. The people and the actual work were great, but I couldn’t see myself doing my bosses job.

So a few weeks later, I signed up for a coaching diploma with The Coaching Academy and started training alongside my full-time job.

I was also pregnant but didn’t know it at the time! After I had my son, I considered returning to work part-time, but as my return date approached, I knew I couldn’t return to that world.

It was the final step in my decision to pursue coaching and so I started to coach clients around raising my boys.

I’m definitely someone who follows their gut instinct. This approach seems to work for me and I’ve done that my entire career.

I’ve made decisions based on what I know at the time and things usually work out for the better. If they don’t, it just adds to the learning experience!


After my first coaching session, I was inspired – I knew that this was what I wanted to be doing!


What challenges did you face as a new coach?

When I left my old career behind, I realised there are so many people who are in the same situation I was in.

They jumped on the hamster wheel straight out of school or university.

They no longer love their job, they’re overwhelmed or stressed but they have no idea what they want to do instead.

They’ve been in the same career for ten or more years and done all the things they should do, but it doesn’t necessarily work for them anymore.

It might be that they’ve changed as a person, or their job has changed or their priorities in life have shifted. But they’re plodding on and paying the bills because they don't know what they could do instead.

Some people don’t get to the crisis point that I got to, but many are sticking their heads in the sand, saying “I’ll deal with it when I’ve got time”.

Many of us need help from someone else to take action.

I knew I wanted to move into the career coaching space and although I had good coaching skills, I didn’t have a framework to help people specifically with career-related decisions.

The models I did have weren't right for career coaching. I wanted something with a bit more structure which I would be able to clearly articulate to prospective clients.

Firework’s three-phased approach [Explore, Dream, Discover] was easy to explain and this really appealed to me.

Getting my Firework license meant I finally had something tangible to sell!


There are so many people who are feeling stuck with no idea what to do next.


What did you implement following your training?

I took some time to go through all the Firework tools again and work out which ones would best fit into the coaching process I wanted to offer.

It was important for me to understand how and why I was going to use each exercise and what benefits my clients would get from using them.

I also took some time to test out a few of the exercises with my existing clients to get a feel for how they might work in isolation.

As it turns out, the programme is so flexible that the tools work well in so many different scenarios!


What has Firework helped you to achieve?

Firework has helped me create a step by step framework to work through with clients.

They appreciate having that structure, even if we don’t follow it to the letter.

I now have a lot more clarity around what being a career coach means and the steps I need to go through to help people get the results they want to get.

I tend to use Firework as a tool kit of exercises to support my coaching rather than as an end to end programme.

Each client responds differently to the various tools in the programme and that’s the beauty of it – there are so many options.

I like flexing the programme to align with my clients' needs and preferences. It forever keeps things interesting for me!


Each client responds differently to the tools and that's the beauty of it – there are so many options.


Who do you work with?

Many of my clients are in a similar position to where I was a few years ago.

Mums who are in a career that no longer satisfies them and they just don’t want to do it anymore.

They perhaps put up with it when the kids were young, to pay the bills and keep things ticking over.

But as the children have grown, their focus has returned to themselves, working out what they actually want to do, and how they want to do it.

I’ve also worked with mums who stepped off the corporate treadmill when they became parents, and now want to explore what the next step in their working life might look like.

Some of my clients aren't parents but they’re looking for a radical career change. They want to quit their 9-5 in favour of starting their own business, or do something completely different.

My ideal clients are those who come into the coaching process with a positive mindset, people who want to challenge themselves and achieve more in their lives and careers.

In those instances, a whole new energy comes into the sessions.


Many of my clients are in a similar position to where I was a few years ago.


What results have you helped your clients to achieve?

A few of my clients have decided to start up their own business rather than remaining employed.

I had one who started an ethical recruitment business working with sustainable companies and third sector organisations.

Others have ended up staying with the same company but have transitioned into positions that are more aligned to what they enjoy doing.

Some clients aren’t looking to make a dramatic shift into a new career so I’ve helped them make their existing role more fulfilling, and more aligned to what’s important to them.

For some, this has meant reducing their working hours and taking on volunteering roles so they can get their kick of what makes them happy whilst still earning a living.

One of my most recent clients was a woman who had fallen out of love with her business, and was looking to do something new.

We explored her skills and how she wanted to be spending her time.

Within a few sessions she’d pivoted her business into a niche she felt excited about.

The work she’s doing now is similar, but this change in direction means she can explore her 'fun' side and has reinvigorated her passion.

This is the great thing about coaching – it allows people to gain more confidence in their own ideas.

They may come to me saying “I can’t make a change because I’ve been doing this for so long”.

But, after a few weeks, they realise they have transferable skills and experience, they've just lacked the confidence until now.

Using the Firework tools, I've helped them to consider new options. 

Even those who haven't made massive shifts leave the coaching programme feeling more positive and recognise they have a choice about their future career path.


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

I started off offering my coaching services to people in my network.

Initially, I worked with family (not something I would recommend!), friends and acquaintances.

In 2019, I started using Facebook to market my business. I run a Facebook group (the Career Confidence Club) and find it effective in attracting new clients.

It helps them to get to know me before they commit to coaching with me.

I also use LinkedIn and Instagram.

This year, I’ve raised my profile locally through community events and collaborations with other coaches.


I’ve raised my profile locally through community events and collaborations.


What other tools or resources have you found to be helpful in growing your business or enhancing your skills?

I read a lot of personal development books, and explore CPD training to build my coaching skills.

I also have a bank of podcasts and articles for clients that I’m always building on.


How do you see your work evolving in the future?

I’m a whole lot clearer on what I’m doing and how I’m doing it now.

I can definitely see my coaching practice expanding into something much bigger.

In 2020, I’d hoped to do more face-to-face workshops and events, but for obvious reasons, this hasn’t happened.

For now, I’ll continue with my 1:1 coaching work with a view to launching a group career coaching programme soon!


I’m a whole lot clearer on what I’m doing and how I’m doing it now.


What are the most rewarding aspects of coaching for you?

There are two things I love.

The first is when people realise that they don't have to stay trapped in the career they don't like and it’s possible to build the career that’s right for them.

The second is when a client figures out the thing (or things!) that are going to make them happy and begin moving towards them.

Being able to witness the difference in people's energy is really quite amazing!


Vicki is a licensed Firework career coach who works with ambitious women ready to start a new chapter in their career after having kids. This can include returning to the workplace after a break, taking on a new challenge or heading off in a completely different career direction. She lives in Kingston-upon-Thames with her husband and two sons. Find out more about Vicki at