Samantha’s story

Samantha Graham*

Partner in a large financial services firm

“I was promoted to Director level a few years ago, at the same time as one of my male colleagues – yet not long after that he was promoted again to Partner, while I stayed where I was. This was hugely disappointing and frustrating. I was happy enough in my role, but I’m very career-focused and was keen to keep progressing, yet I felt like the opportunities weren’t quite there for me.

As I began to explore ways in which I might keep growing my abilities and moving upwards in the company, I was involved in a discussion with some other colleagues about improving our presentation skills – which is what led me to Sarah. A number of us from the company attended her presentation skills workshop (which was excellent) and were invited to have a 1-1 session with her off the back of that. When I met with her I felt very quickly that she was someone who could help me, and we agreed to begin a coaching relationship. That was one of my best career decisions to date!

Over our time together we focused on career development, and Sarah had a hugely practical approach. We looked at exactly what the route to promotion was, analysed my interactions with the people who make advancement decisions, and worked to understand and improve my personal communication style and approach to people-management. We also looked at my role in meetings, working on helping me to feel more confident to speak up and share my ideas and views. Again she was very practical, giving me simple but effective tools to improve my mental preparation and teaching me breathing techniques to reduce anxiety and nerves.

It was also interesting that one of the things Sarah pinpointed was that I’m not great at recognising and owning my strengths and achievements. She was brilliant at teaching me how to be much more comfortable with showing what I’m good at, without going against my personality and values.

What’s fantastic about Sarah is that she asks exactly the right questions, she’s so insightful. I found myself trusting her very quickly and opening up early on, which is very unusual for me as I’m quite a private person. Sarah’s sensitivity and ability to listen so thoughtfully, combined with her wealth of experience, clear emotional intelligence, and broad-ranging expertise, makes her an incredible coach.

I’m now so much more confident in interactions with my superiors, as well as in meetings and presentations. I’m also better at handling difficult conversations, both with my team and my boss, and have learnt how to feel more in control rather than shying away from dealing with the issues clearly and firmly. I feel more respected now as well, something that has been borne out by me recently being made Partner – and I have no doubt that Sarah was vital to that progression.

Working with Sarah gave me a great opportunity to reflect on where I was and where I wanted to get to, then take practical steps to realise those ambitions, with smart, kind, insightful guidance. It was an incredibly valuable use of time, and I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending her.”

* This person’s name has been changed, as although they wanted to share their story they preferred to remain anonymous


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