Spotlight Series: Meet Career Coach Carys Hughes

1. Tell us a bit about yourself

Hello! I’m Carys; free-spirited, curious and compassionate, lover of adventures kindness and freedom. And a big believer in living our lives according to who we are and what’s important to us! I live on a narrowboat with my partner, our son and our Jack Russell.

I’ve come into the wonderful world of coaching in 2017, after spending almost a decade in HR and recruitment.

I’m really passionate about helping career starters and “career drifters” to explore and establish career paths that leave them feeling energised, inspired and excited about their futures. Together with my clients, we do this by getting really clear on personal values, strengths and interests. I take a holistic approach, it’s important to look at someone as a whole human being, taking into account what kind of life they want to lead, so that we can explore career options that support this.

So often it’s the case that we don’t ask ourselves the important questions – Who am I? What do I want? What am I good at? And, chances are, no one else asked us those questions either as we were growing up, or through education. Plus we often don’t understand what our options are, or perhaps we think some jobs are off-limits to us because we don’t have the ability, or the right, to pursue them.

And I’ve been there, at various points in my education and journey into the working world. That’s why I’m so passionate about helping others to get clarity on who they are and develop the self-belief that they can move forward into a career that will see them truly flourish.

2. What was your first job and how did you get it?

My first proper full-time job was as a Receptionist in a hotel where I started an NVQ because, aged 16 and having just left school, the catering course I was enrolled on at college, was cancelled at the last hour. From recollection, I think the college had put me in touch with an apprenticeship provider, and that’s how I got the job.

At school, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I’d spent my younger years growing up in a pub that my parents owned and we lived in, and my Dad continued to manage pubs and hotels for many years. So with little idea of where else to start, I went for hospitality, following in his footsteps.

3. How did you decide and get to your career today?

I was definitely not one of those people who knew what I was destined for or wanted to do; in fact, I never had a clue. Except, looking back, I had many clues. I just didn’t have the tools or knowledge to tap into those, identify my strengths or know where my interests could take me.

I did things a bit back to front really. After discovering that I didn’t want to work the unsociable hours that came with hospitality (for little pay) I left the hotel (apprenticeship unfinished) and floated around in a few office jobs. A couple of years later I got a job organising small business events. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted more and decided to take a part-time A-level in Business studies. My tutor suggested applying for uni, which I’d absolutely ruled out believing that with only 1 A-level, that wouldn’t be possible for me. But after a phone call to UCAS it turned out industry experience was taken into account, and a year later I started at Bournemouth Uni studying hospitality with the intention of pursuing a career in events management.

After uni, I started working for a small, growing company where I wore many hats including organising medical screening events and the staffing of these events. A couple of years later they offered me the opportunity to take on the role of setting up their HR department. I jumped at the chance because I loved working with people, and I knew HR offered a structured and steady career path. I also started studying for an HR qualification alongside this job. Because it was a standalone HR role, it was challenging but I learnt a lot in a short space of time!

I enjoyed a lot about working in HR over the next 10 years. I found employment law surprisingly interesting! And I absolutely loved the buzz of recruitment and drawing out the strengths of candidates I interviewed. And as my career developed I spent time on exciting projects like employee wellbeing and also coaching line managers to get the best from their people.

But then somewhere along the line, my roles became more desk-based and less hands-on which completely changed the game for me. In hindsight, I realise it just didn’t play to my strengths, and I found myself wishing the weeks away. When I was pregnant with my son 4 and a half years ago, I was made redundant and went back to a new company when he was just over 1. They were a great employer and extremely flexible, but I still felt like I wasn’t getting enough time with Ted (my son) and wasn’t enjoying the crazy nursery to work, and back, dashing around. Dropping my son off at nursery 4 days a week felt pretty traumatic for both me and him, we both cried! And (after some tears, some counselling, and some coaching) I came to accept that my life was different now and I needed to find a new way of working that would support that because dropping a crying baby off to go to a job that doesn’t light you up is kind of soul-destroying, at least it was for me.

During the coaching I received, we worked through my options and a few months later I started my first coaching certificate! Once you’re clear on things, moving forward in a new direction seems so much easier! I then took a coaching diploma, undertook a charity volunteer coaching role for 9 months for secondary school pupils, left my office job in summer 2018, and I’ve been focussing purely on my coaching business ever since. I can honestly say I am so glad I made the decision to do so. I LOVE my work (apart from the admin which I still don’t like and try to avoid at every opportunity!)

4. What advice would you have given your younger self? Or what is the best career advice you have ever received?

The advice I would give my younger self would be to notice the things that lit me up, that I felt energised by and focus on developing my career with those areas in mind. I would also tell my younger self that it’s ok to learn the way - on the way, ask for help and not know the answer to everything!

The best career advice I’ve ever received is to start before you’re ready! Doing the thing is how you learn to do the thing!

5. In 5 years, where do you hope to be professionally and personally?

I’d like to work with organisations helping them to retain their high potential staff through strengths and career coaching sessions/workshops. I’m also planning to explore opportunities to work with colleges and universities so that I can help young adults to identify their own wonderful strengths and the possibilities available to them so that they can start their careers with intention.

I’m really keen to find out how I can use coaching to make a positive difference through volunteer roles and am particularly interested in working with the homeless and vulnerably housed. I’m a sucker for training courses too and have a wish list as long as my arm, so I’m sure I’ll have taken a bunch of courses within the next 5 years!

Personally, I’m intending to bring more adventure and fun into my life and I’m looking forward to a few years of exploring the inland waterways with my family on our narrowboat!

Stay connected with Carys!





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