Arrival Education Coach Profile: David Hamilton

As part of our series of explainers and spotlights on Arrival Education's Coaching Programme, we’ve been catching up with former coaches and coachees to find out more about their experience on the 9-month development programme.

In May, we heard from Christina, a student who took part in AE’s ‘Developing Leaders’ Coaching Programme back in 2011. Today, we hear from her coach, David Hamilton, Chief Innovation Officer at Kerry Foods.


Hi David. Can you tell us a bit about your role and who you work for?

I work for Kerry Foods, which is part of the Kerry Group. Kerry Foods is one of the leading suppliers of added value chilled foods. I sit on the Kerry Foods Leadership Team, who together have responsibility for the leadership, control and long-term development of our people and business.

My day to day role focuses on idea generation across our brands, customer brands, propriety brands and through licencing based on sound consumer-led insights, leveraging channels and occasions. I have amazing teams that stretch across the wider business in a multitude of roles spanning Management, Science, Technology and food craft.

How did you first hear about AE?

It was back in February 2011. Kerry Foods offered me the chance, alongside seven other senior team members, to work on the Developing Leaders program. At the time we were working with YSC (a leadership consultancy), who introduced us to AE. The aim was to practice and deepen my own coaching skills, whilst supporting one of Arrival Education’s ‘Success for life’ students.

 What were your expectations of working with AE on the coaching programme?

 To be honest, before we met the students I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, after an initial briefing with Dan, I gained a basic understanding of the amazing work AE were doing, supporting and guiding young people. I was excited by AE’s stories and achievements and just wanted to get involved to see how I could help. 

Who were you paired with? What was it like the first time you met?

I was paired with Christina: A wide-eyed, intelligent and thoughtful young lady with a big smile. During our first meeting, I learned about Christina’s, as well as the other students, stories and couldn’t help but feel in awe of their own drive to learn and better themselves. I felt ill-equipped and somewhat blind to the world they had grown up in but compelled to learn, understand and support.

What has been the impact of the coaching programme on you? How do you think you developed?

I think it’s important to highlight that it’s been a mutual journey, one that wouldn’t have worked if it had been anything else. We learnt from each other, we challenged each other, we benefited from each other’s differences. I now do my utmost to view a situation from other people’s perspectives. It’s important to recognise that people learn differently. Allow individuals the chance to learn their way and take time for open and honest discussions that should include having the courage to say what's needed.

If you hadn’t taken part in the program do you think you would you have changed?

To be really honest I don’t think I would be in the role I have today. Christina and this process helped me find some inner peace. I am myself diverse and perhaps don’t always conform to the norm (as a creative). I don’t worry so much these days, I embrace it. I enjoy celebrating my own point of difference and do all I can to support others that have a similar disposition.

How do you think your coachee developed? 

From the very start, Christina was open to learn and grow. She wanted to challenge me as much as I wanted to challenge her! Christina’s confidence grew each time we spent time together. We started to challenge each other and enjoy the journey and outcomes. Christina started to think through situations, options and opportunities but as time went on she looked for an opportunity to learn and understand other’s points of view. She gained confidence and she became more settled and rounded as a young adult.  

What’s the benefit of partnering with AE and running the Coaching Programme for companies like Kerry Foods?

The experience and insight Arrival Education brought me and the business has helped us develop our culture and approach at Kerry, whilst also enabling us to embrace and attract diverse talent that can develop and flourish. It’s a mutual process, we are both learning from each other and both businesses will adapt and change for the better. Together, we have an opportunity to harness diversity of talent, which is reflective of the world we live in.  

What would you say to a colleague thinking about taking part in the programme?

If you get the opportunity take it, but you will need to be available, open to challenge and be willing to open up, use feelings and be caring. Openness and honesty are key as trust needs to be built. Remember you are dealing with people and be open to learning yourself and you will gain so much together.


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