Sally Baker | Walk and Talk

Sally Baker is a senior manager at an international company, based in the Midlands. She heads a multi-disciplined team, travels overseas regularly, and interacts with people at all levels, from the CEO to new recruits.

Since joining the organisation seven years ago, Sally had always had a clear career path and felt she knew where she was headed. But, last year, a major restructure changed this and left her struggling to see any development opportunities.  She felt the only option was to leave.

Twelve months on, she’s still there and is happily optimistic about the future.

So what changed?

I met Sharon Jackson and she showed me that, whatever the situation, you have to be open to possibilities. I feel very differently about things now and am having conversations with my manager about future opportunities. Sharon made me focus on my negative thought patterns and showed me how to change them – I’m now able to ‘press pause’, take time to reflect, and then rewire my thought processes. I know it sounds crazy, but it really works.

Had you tried one-to-one coaching before?

I’d been on one of the Power of You courses, which was really beneficial. So, when I found myself doubting my future in the company, I contacted Sharon for advice. She invited me to her office, which is at her lovely home, to have a chat. It was very different to the Power of You, because I didn’t have the other group members around me but, actually, it turned out to be the best coaching session I have ever had.

Why’s that?

Because she really got under the skin of my issues and I felt able to talk candidly about my concerns. Sharon’s real strength is that she digs deep and doesn’t let you get away with anything. She spots subtle clues that you don’t realise you’re giving away and then gives you time to analyse them. There are places to hide in a group-training environment but there’s no escape in a one-to-one session. I found it so beneficial that I booked to see Sharon for another session.

Was it the same sort of thing?

No! The day before, she sent an email to say ‘bring your wellies’. I’ve never been asked to do that on a business-training course. It turned out to be a Walk and Talk session.  We met at her office, which is situated in beautiful countryside, and had coffee and a chat, and then we walked across the fields to a pub for lunch, talking all the way. I mean, when do you ever get the chance to do that when you are working?  I barely have time for a coffee, let alone get outside my environment and think!

And was that it?

After lunch, we walked back to her office and put all the thoughts down on paper and developed an action plan for me to take away.

Has it made you do things differently?

I’m more aware of the triggers that create my positive or not so positive thought patterns and I’m able to control them so they don’t take me along negative pathways. Whereas I used to throw my cards up in the air and think ‘I can’t see a way forward’, now I can ‘press pause’, rewire the thought processes and work on finding a positive outcome.  I’ve been open with my manager and it has made the difference to me staying in the organisation or leaving.  I was definitely on the verge of going, which I now know would not have been the best thing for me.

Can you now see a path ahead?

Absolutely. Things are very different. I feel so much happier and I’m convinced it is because of the time I spent talking things through with Sharon and dissecting my feelings.

Has there been an affect on your home life?

We’re all different in terms of what builds our confidence and our self-esteem. For me, self-esteem comes from achieving professionally. So, yes, the confidence you gain from your professional life can only spill over to your personal life and happiness. I feel in a great place – very different to how I was before I met Sharon.

What’s Sharon’s secret?

She’s not afraid to share her own stories. And I admire the fact that she is prepared to self-disclose, because she thinks you might connect with it.  It’s as though she’s saying ‘I recognise some of what you are doing or saying, because I have thought or felt that way in the past’. Her self-disclosure gives you reassurance. She has true empathy and that’s what sets her apart and makes her different.

Should everyone try one-to-one coaching?

I’m not sure that it is necessarily for everyone; I can imagine that some people would recoil from being under the spotlight. But if you’re wired up and prepared to have an open mind, it is so, so powerful. But if you go in like a closed book, you won’t gain much. It’s important to be open to possibilities and then it can be very useful, both personally and professionally.

Will you need another session?

I feel I’ve got what I wanted from the two sessions – I am back on right track. I have no doubt that Sharon and I will stay in touch but I think the purpose of what she did for me was to provide an intervention when I was at a crossroad in my working life, and then she helped me see the way ahead.

To find out more about one-to-one coaching, or Walk and Talk sessions, contact

Note: this is an authentic case study – the name and details of the individual have been changed.