S: Hi Niki, First of all welcome to the Animas team! It’s great to have you join as one of our coach mentors. And so, tell me a little about your background and your coaching journey.
N: Thank you so much, it’s a very exciting time!
So we first moved to London 9 years ago. I come from Greece originally and I have a teaching background. I was teaching in Greece for many years but when I came to London I was like ‘hmm what do I want to do with my life now?’
So even before I started studying it at university, I was always interested in psychology. That was my thing, I always wanted to be a psychologist, but I didn’t go through with the exams. Despite this I always had a passion for it. So I thought maybe this is my opportunity to study that, now I’m in a country with lots of options for this sort of thing. And it’s much easier to change career here than it is back in Greece.
So I started searching for that, and I remember back then I contacted the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), but then after exploring my options a little further I came across coaching. And I was like, wow, I love the idea of this. The idea of helping people to move forward in their lives rather than looking backwards as a means for change. Looking deep to establish where the root problem is and so on. So I thought let me explore this a little more.
I attended a weekend with another coaching school back in 2015, and I ended up doing a certificate in coaching with them, but it didn’t feel right with me for some reason, perhaps not quite comprehensive enough, just something didn’t resonate. So I carried on exploring further coaching options and then I discovered the Animas introductory day, and decided to come along. That is where I met Nick and he started talking about all of the links with philosophy and the psychological grounding of the training, and I was like okay this is it. This is where I want to study coaching.
S: And so did you have any particular goals or aspirations with your coaching from the outset?
N: Yes, especially when we decided to move to London. It was a massive step for me, to leave my country, especially as my daughter was 2 at the time. I started thinking ‘how great would it be if I could support other women that might be going through similar situations?’ Being expats, experiencing motherhood with young children, these kinds of big transitions. So that’s where it started.
But as I said before I was always interested in psychology, and because I’d spent my career as a secondary school teacher back in Greece, I wanted to see what I could do outside of that ‘box’ of teaching. So for me I think it really was the right timing. I actually currently teach here part-time which has been great because it’s a job that I’ve always enjoyed, but I’m actually about to give up the teaching to focus solely on coaching and mentoring, so that I can really give everything I have to the roles.
S: And when did you qualify with Animas?
N: So I completed the coaching course and qualified in 2017, it will soon be approaching 3 years since passing actually. After my qualification I also completed CPD courses in Group Coaching and Facilitation and Relationship and Couples Coaching.
S: So you’ve been qualified now for almost three years, what would you say is your approach to coaching, or what is it that you bring to the coaching dynamic?
N: I’d describe my coaching style as very person-centred, which is no surprise as I learned coaching with the humanistic coaching school that is Animas! I also feel it has an element of existentialism too, and this is something that I’m currently exploring. I’ve also undertaken an extra short course after qualification around storytelling and narrative. I love to bring storytelling and narrative into my coaching, as this brings a playful element to the space, and stories can work really well in so many coaching scenarios.
S: And so how did your new role as Animas mentor come to be?
N: Well I actually put my name down on the list perhaps 18 months ago, and I didn’t hear anything at the time. More recently however, I reached out to Ruth, and she actually happened to be looking for a new mentor when I got in touch, and in no time, I was receiving an email saying that they would love to have me on board. It all happened very quickly! I didn’t even have time to digest it, but I was so thrilled to find out that I was going to be part of the Animas mentoring team!
I think mentoring is such an important part of our development as coaches-in-training. It lets us reflect back and bring problems or questions to an experienced coach so that we can continue to develop. I know that mentoring really helped me when I was training so it’s brilliant to now have gone full circle and be using my knowledge and experience to help others on their journey.
S: So tell me a little about what you feel you bring to the mentoring space that will be beneficial to our coaches-in-training.
N: So I’m a great listener and communicator. I’m also very empathetic and I connect and build rapport with people really well. I have a very calm, warm approach and combined with my teaching skills and coaching experience, I feel this really allows me to build a trusted relationship with my mentees.
I think something else that makes me slightly different as a mentor is that I’m not a native English speaker. And the reason I say this is that I’ve often seen in the coaching community, or my own coaching big challenges around this. Questions in the head around whether non-native speakers can actually do it in English or not. And that sometimes brings doubt, or fears. As someone that has had these exact same thoughts and feelings I really can resonate with it, and help to reassure and allay these fears. I think that is an added benefit, particularly with how beautifully diverse the Animas community is!
S: And finally Niki, what are you most looking forward to about your new role?
N: Well, as someone that loves connecting with people, it really is a great opportunity to continue doing something which I absolutely love! On top of this, to be able to contribute to students’ learning and growth is something which I’m going to really enjoy. It’s a very rewarding role and I can’t wait to get started.
S: Well we are so pleased to have you join the Animas mentoring team Niki. Thank you so much for talking with me today and good luck on this next chapter of your coaching journey!
Find out more about Niki and the rest of our fantastic mentoring team here.
Explore the benefits of working with a mentor for a coach-in-training.