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A fish in a tree - that's me!

I’m apparently a ‘third culture kid’ having grown up in Yugoslavia, India and Kenya before I was 10. Apparently this can sometimes cause resentment – not having friends you’ve known since childhood, being moved around. I can count on one hand friends I’ve known since then. BUT I feel the benefits far outweigh the disadvantage. The experiences and memories are precious.

It has still made me a bit of a fish out of water. In particular during my five years at boarding school. My peers were more academic than I, and were generally from aristocratic or otherwise wealthy families. I was brought up in a public service environment, and carried that ethos with me. I left after O’ Levels and went to high school in Maryland in the US. Although I was a fish out of water, I was welcomed. And I’m still in contact with the incredible people I was at school with.

I remember discussing with my tutor what I would study and because I’d done appallingly in science, I did horticulture and child development. There you go! Practical subjects that I could see some point to.

I came back and did a bi-lingual secretarial course and then a Business Studies HND. I considered going to University and got a place to study Media Studies at the University of Ulster, but by then I had a tribe, and wanted to get my teeth into work.

That university thing has come up recently, and although I worked hard and progressed at work, I do realise that the narrative of recruiters, employers and peers throughout my career has stuck and has often held me back, thinking I don’t deserve success because I didn’t get a degree. I’m letting go of that now but I think it sticks with a lot of people because there isn’t enough appreciation of innate talents, skills and strengths. That’s something I want to overturn with clients, because we’re all geniuses!

Brief run-down of work – fish up tree and fish in water moments

Events organiser at Earls Court and Olympia – loved it, walkie-talkies, long hours, interesting exhibitors and contractors. Bit boring after a year of working in cycles of the same thing.

Several PR agencies – I got into PR by writing to the author of a PR text book. His nephew was starting an agency, so I joined him. The agency grew to four people, then lost an account and two of us were made redundant. I went on to join another start-up, and then moved to a bigger agency a few years later.

Government communications – I’d yearned to get into public service, so got through the assessment centre and started in the Department of Health press office. Good fun, incredibly stressful. Moved to Prison Service and headed up the team promoting the work of prisons – facilitating journalists making documentaries and writing features. Dipped my toe in operational work on secondment to a young offender institution (MASSIVE fish out of water). Loved working with the kids, not sure what the staff made of me, but it mostly wasn’t good.

Had a bit of a breakdown.

Children and Young People’s Unit – first press officer spanning children and youth issues across Government. Crystallised my passion for working with young people and seeing how the system tries to put them in boxes and stifles creativity. Became a policy official engaging young people in the democratic process, and funding projects to listen to their voices.


Two years in New York – volunteering with a youth journalism project, a programme to provide out of school activities and gardening in Central Park (my husband and I weren’t yet married so I wasn’t allowed a working visa). I was definitely a fish in water. 

On return I had the most fish in a tree experience of my career. Toxic and unsupportive management, and a job I didn’t enjoy. Time to take voluntary redundancy.

Training as a coach has been the most rewarding experience of my life. I learn so much from my clients and they work hard and get results because they get to grips with how they work best, and how to take care of themselves. I'm finding my balance by continuing with some volunteering (as a nature buddy with a local charity bringing isolated people into nature), coaching with StartUp Sherpa and supporting the 16x16 programme, and coaching on 16x16 with a group of MUN Impact international students to develop innovative business solutions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

If you’re a fish in a tree, or think that because of who you are or what you’ve been told, you can’t create the business or life you want, don’t believe it.

Book a chat and a cuppa to get you swimming!


I received the Diploma in Transformational Coaching from Animas. 

You can find out more about them here: www.animascoaching.com

I am also qualified in Mindfulness and Positive Psychology Coaching.

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