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Building your personal brand

If asked, most of would be able to identify some of the world’s biggest corporate brands – Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, McDonalds – are all very familiar global  names and are instantly recognisable through a visual image, piece of music or strapline.

However, have you ever thought about your own personal brand? What impact do you make? How do you come across to others? What marks  you out as unique? Building a personal brand in the workplace is now perceived as a crucial part of planning your career strategy and creating the image by which you want colleagues and clients to remember you.

A piece of research conducted by EY and Linked in for She Runs It, an organisation focused on promoting women into leadership positions in the marketing and media industries, highlights the importance of women in particular developing their personal brands in their quest to reach the top of their chosen profession and thereby contribute towards gender parity. Although this research focussed on one particular sector, the message is relevant to women in whatever sphere they operate : essentially,  that women at the top tend to ‘own’ their personal brand, but many overlook the need to promote themselves and their work.

Think of someone of the most powerful and prominent women in the world, in business,  politics, sport, the arts : Theresa May, Hillary Clinton,  Anna Wintour,  Mary Berry, Kim Kardashian, Serena Williams,  Dame Judy Dench,  Emma Walmsley, Nicola Adams : they all have in common a very strong and distinctive personal brand.

brands   The issue though for most people is : where to start? In the melee of everyday life, identifying and developing your own personal brand can seem like one task too many!  Here are some tips to start you off:

  • Be clear about who you are as a person, both personally and professionally
  • Identify your key strengths and work on developing these
  • Develop your professional networks
  • Consider the image you portray – from personal presentation, your voice,  your manner – what are these saying about you?
  • Be confident of your abilities and the contribution you can make

Working with a Business Coach can really help to fine tune this process and contribute towards your ability to fulfil your career potential. If you would like to find out more about how Coaching can help you develop your personal brand, contact Liz Watt ( at BLT Executive Coaching.





Perhaps you’re new to the idea of Executive Coaching and you’re not quite sure what to expect. Or maybe you are just about to start on a Coaching programme and want to make the most of the opportunity. The following hints and tips might help you to make the most of the experience.

Coaching is a two-way process in which the Coach and client work together as equals. The more active a part you take in the process, and if you can embark upon it with an open mind and sense of curiosity, the better the outcomes are likely to be for you.  These practical ideas and suggestions will help you get the most from your Coaching experience.

1. The Role Of Your Coach. Your Coach is there to support, challenge, listen, stimulate, encourage, share feedback and offer any resources they have to help you achieve the goals or make the changes that you have identified as important to you. The relationship should be an active and adult Coaching partnership.

2. Communicate With Your Coach.  Be proactive in asking your Coach to communicate in a way that works for you. Every Coach has their own distinct personality and style, and will want to be authentic in their approach, yet a good Coach will be able to adapt their style to suit you, e.g. by being more or less direct/challenging, by working at a faster/slower pace or by sharing more or less of their thinking and ideas with you. They will welcome you making your preferences clear, because their aim is to coach you in a way that works for you.

3. Facilitating Change. Your Coach will want you to achieve your coaching goals and so will be looking for creative ways to encourage you to ‘stretch’ yourself wherever possible. Your Coach may well question the limits you set for yourself and encourage the setting of challenging goals and targets. Coaching shouldn’t necessarily be a ‘warm and fluffy’chat!

4. A Non-Judgemental Experience. Coaching tends to work best when you actively seek to get the best from yourself and take responsibility for your own growth and development. Your Coach isn’t there to judge you in any way, but to work with you.

5. Quality vs Quantity. The true value of coaching depends on the  quality of the experience. When both you and your Coach are fully engaged in working towards your goals then success should follow. Think of it like going to the gym and really working at it, rather than thinking a six-pack will appear just because you’ve bought gym membership!

6. Measuring Results. What you do after your Coaching sessions will impact massively on their success. What do you take from each session and what do you put into practice? Do you want your Coach to give you ‘homework’ or exercises that enable you to test out your discussions? Coaching sessions are the starting points and should be the catalyst to help you to plan, prepare and move forward. 

7. It’s All About You! Your agenda is the only one that counts and you are the focal point of every session you undertake. You don’t have to please your Coach in any way. If something is important to you, tell your Coach and if necessary, they will adapt your session accordingly.

8. Your Time In The Spotlight. If you are new to Coaching you might feel that it is self-indulgent – even a selfish luxury – to spend dedicated time focussing on yourself. Look at it another way though – you are at your best professionally and personally if you are fulfilled and operating to your optimal potential. When you succeed, others should benefit too; if you are unhappy, unfulfilled or frustrated in your work or blocked in some other way, you are unlikely to give of your best. So by prioritising your own needs, the knock on effect should be to positively impact on those around you.

9. Keep An Open Mind. Often the issues you think you face aren’t really the issues that need atention! It can be the way we view circumstances and how we think about them that would benefit from change. Even when issues seem daunting or challenges insurmountable, coaching can facilitate ways to open ourselves up to new ways of responding. If you are ‘stuck’ in some way, your Coach can work with you to identify new ways of seeing or alternative avenues to pursue.

10. You’re The Boss. You should feel empowered to get what you most want and need from your coaching experience. So coming to each session with a direction in mind, perhaps a list of issues or questions you want to address, will give you control of the direction of travel. Your Coach will then use their skills to help you move forward.

11. Be Honest. If there is a disconnect between what we say and what we think, then the coaching process is destined to fail. Coaching isn’t an abstract exercise or an intellectual joust but rather an opportunity to work with your Coach in an open and honest way. You will get the best out of your Coach if you are authentic – both with yourself and your Coach.

12. Be Realistic. It is a good idea to be mindful of what is realistic and achievable when defining your coaching goals. Committing to do too much between sessions for example can cause anxiety and guilt – the exact opposite of what coaching aims to achieve! So think carefully about getting the balance between ‘stretch’ and actually achieving tangible results of which you can feel proud.

Most of all – enjoy the whole process!

If you would like to find out more about BLT’s Executive Coaching service, please contact Liz Watt –



Farewell from Don…

As some of you will know, after (almost) 30 years at BLT I’ve decided to step down from the management consultancy recruitment business here.

So if you’ll indulge me, a few memories from my time as a management consultancy recruiter.

I was lucky enough to get in at the start of the boom in consulting in the early 1980s. The Big Ten accountancy firms were establishing consultancy arms, and my first hire was for Touche Ross (now Deloitte). I was also fortunate to be in the right place at the right time for Mrs Thatcher’s drive to bring private sector skills into the UK public sector. Consultancy firms were setting up public sector divisions, and BLT seemed to be the only recruiter willing to tempt fast-track civil servants, health service professionals and local government officers into the sector. Our reputation in this field led to BLT becoming one of the first external recruiters for the likes of McKinsey  and PA Consulting.

As the 80s turned into the 90s information technology became the driving force, and firms started to recruit increasingly large numbers of younger, IT-savvy, new and recent computer science graduates. I have to say I was personally less interested in being involved in such hiring, preferring to focus on the growing numbers of MBAs who were looking to consultancy as an alternative to investment banking.  A mistake on my part. For every MBA we recruited into a strategy house, we could have recruited a hundred IT specialists into Andersen Consulting, ICL and their competitors.

The brief DotCom boom of the late 90s provided plenty of work, as firms fought fiercely to attract and retain anyone who could claim to know how to use the internet for business. Advertising agencies and technology companies spawned dotcom consultancies, McKinsey converted a floor in Jermyn Street into an incubator for web businesses, and what became Silicon Roundabout was established in old warehouses around Clerkenwell. But the sugar rush didn’t last, and many of the new small clients we’d picked up vanished when the good times ended. And they didn’t pay their recruitment fees…

I had an enforced break from recruiting between 2000 and 2002 due to a brush with leukaemia. When I returned to BLT, the consulting firms had established in-house recruitment teams or outsourced  recruitment to intermediaries, in order to avoid paying our outrageous fees. I saw our  business switch from the (by now) Big Four to small and mid-sized firms. The latter were now winning work that the large firms couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed for (sub-£million contracts), and needed recruitment help.

So it was business-as-usual throughout the first decade of the new Millenium, until the fall of Lehmans in autumn 2008 ushered in the Crash. Overnight, our order book dried up.

Thankfully, businesses soon realised that they still needed the services of management consultancies – to help them survive the next six months, rather than come up with a three year growth plan. The consultancies prospered and as they entered the second decade, the rise of all matters e-, cyber and digital helped propel the sector to new heights. And no doubt working out how blockchain will affect business will be the next earner. Which is where we are today. And where I bow out.

I’ll be leaving towards the end of September. However, I don’t believe in retirement. So I’ll be continuing my work with the consultancy sector, not as a recruiter but as an adviser to business schools, MBAs and others on careers in consultancy. And my BLT management consultancy recruitment colleagues will continue to provide  new and experienced consultants to strategy, management and in-house consultancies both in the UK and abroad.


Don Leslie

A sea change in the consulting sector with the water industry?

Water  - that simplest of products is probably not seen as one of our most innovative business sectors ……but something quite revolutionary could be flowing from the recent announcement that Anglian Water, Atos, Capgemini and Cognizant have formed an IT alliance over an eight year period.

It would seem to make sense – the utilities and infrastructure sectors routinely enter into alliances in construction and engineering projects ….so why should IT be any different? While it’s not uncommon for a number of consulting firms to be working for the same client at the same time on the same project ……the concept of a formal alliance between the firms is genuinely innovative in the sector.

It will be interesting to see the outcome of the venture ……not just for Anglian Water and the consulting firms involved, but in the wider consulting market too. Will this lead to a trickle or even a flood of new alliances between other firms in response to this development?  Could we have firms with different functional specialisms pooling their resources to offer a formal alliance to clients? Will it lead to a reduction in acquisitions within the consulting sector – why not just partner with a firm rather than acquire it? Will other major corporates follow Anglian Water’s lead?

Interesting development – let’s see what streams this creates for the future……..



Tariq reads about a Paralympian’s story which puts a whole new perspective on both complaints of career obstacles and what one can achieve in the work place…

It’s now been 2 weeks since the dust, sand and green water settled on the Olympics in Rio. I love the Olympics – more than the World Cup, World Twenty20 and Ryder Cup combined. The politics and history are of course fascinating; Berlin 36, Mexico 68, Munich 72, the endless drugs scandals, the boycotts of 1980 and 1984. But it’s all about the sporting achievement above all else; I remember reading about Emil Zatopek in Helsinki 52 and have stared in awe at the TV to watch Carl Lewis, Maria Mutola, Haile Gebrselassie, Michael Johnson, Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Mo Farah and countless others. Incredible feats on the highest stage, breaking records, overcoming all obstacles.

Now, we talk a lot in business about glass ceilings, the ‘old boys network’, insurmountable obstacles, lack of boardroom diversity – but while there’s still so much to do in all these areas, doors are opening faster, wider and in more places than ever before.  It’s not perfect, but it’s also never been easier in that respect. Spare a thought for those who decided to put their efforts into actually battering those doors down in the first place.

Which brings me to the Paralympics which starts on Wednesday 7th September. I realise there’s a whole other element to the idea of overcoming adversity, achieving incredible feats, and what it means to be a hero.

Take the example of Tatyana McFadden; she was born with spina bifida which left her paralyzed from the waist down. The first six years of her life were spent in a St Petersburg orphanage where she walked on her hands as no wheelchair was available. After being adopted by an American couple and moving to the US she brought a lawsuit against her school which directly led to the passing of a pioneering state-wide Disabilities Act requiring schools to give students with disabilities the opportunity to compete in interscholastic athletics.

Take about adversity! Talk about a change maker! I suspect Tatyana’s personal experience of obstacles, glass ceilings and resistance-to-change might just out-do your own. It certainly does mine.

And then we get to the achievement bit;

at 15, she qualified for the 2004 Athens games in wheelchair racing as the youngest member of the USA track and field team and by the end of Beijing in 2008 she had collected 4 silver and 2 bronze medals in total. In London 2012 she won 3 golds and a bronze across 100m, 400m, 800m and 1500m.

By any measure it is an unbelievable record. However, much like all athletes and business people at the top of their fields, there was a hunger to achieve more and to further break down barriers:

2013 was an incredible year for her; at the world championships she won gold at every event from 100m to 5000m, and in that same year she won each of the Boston, Chicago, London and New York City marathons – the first person (able-bodied or otherwise) to win four of the major marathons in the same year. You might want to re-read that last paragraph to make sure you got it all.

In every year since she has consistently broken course records at major marathons and in 2016 won the London and Boston editions again. In Rio she is attempting to win the 100, 400, 800, 1500, 5,000, 4×400 metres and the marathon. The most amazing thing is that most commentators expect her to do it.

I could list athletes such as Zatopek and Farah as heroes of mine, and business leaders such as Bill Gates – but whether talking about sport or business, Tatyana McFadden is a true inspiration. She’s created opportunities which didn’t previously exist, opened doors which were once bolted shut and has achieved feats many probably thought impossible. She has devoted herself to both her own game-changing sporting success and pioneering positive change for those around her. Just one of those is too much for most of the rest of us. A quote of hers sums things up perfectly:

“Sports is my passion, paving access for others is my purpose.

What’s more, hers is just one example of what will be many amazing back stories across the Paralympics in Rio. I’ll be staring at the TV in awe once again at some new heroes.



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