Arrival Education Coach Spotlight: Michelle Manuel

As part of our series of explainers and spotlights on Arrival Education's Coaching Programme, we caught up with Michelle Manuel, Investec employee and participant on the 9-month programme.

Michelle started the programme last November and was partnered with sixth form student, Atiya. 

Hi Michelle, tell us a bit about what you do at Investec...

I work in ICIB – Credit Training and Investment/Structured Credit which is a front of office role. I started with Investec over in South Africa in 2001 and came over to London in 2006, so have been with the company a while!

How did you first hear about the coaching programme?

At Investec we receive volunteer opportunity comms and as I was having a look over, the Coaching Programme caught my eye. I had taken part in something similar with another organisation in the past, and although this opportunity was with graduates just starting out in the workplace, I got so much out of it. So, I thought the Coaching Programme would be a great opportunity to get involved again.

How do you think they programme has impacted your development?

I’m not sure when you start the programme you anticipate how much you’re going to learn. My key take-away is that coaching is completely different to mentorship. Coaching is all about the coachee and what they want to get out of it, as well as helping them get clear in their own mind and about their own action steps.

It’s about getting the coachee to take ownership of their accountability whilst offering support. A lot of the time, we know where we want to go and are ambitious enough to get there, but coaching is about being clear, talking it through with another person and being able to hold yourself accountable. It offers us a place where we can consider and question why something might not have worked and make a new plan if necessary.

Whilst Atiya was developing her own action plan I was learning as well. Self-discipline, focus – a lot of the things we have but need the confidence to be able to use. You need self-awareness and confidence to apply a lot of skill sets, so for us it was about finding that ability.

Would you say the programme has helped you relate to others?

Yes – and I think my weakness, at times, was definitely failing to listen to others because of a desire to always be right and force a solution. And then during the programme I was sat there listening to Atiya address and find her own solution, with me never forcing, and things changed. It was a huge learning experience.

How do you think you’ve seen your student develop?

For Atiya, she already had all of the ability there, it was just a failure to recognise and to appreciate what she was already doing, what she already had laid down and how she was working towards it. She’s incredibly self-aware but sometimes too keen to identify her weaknesses instead of strengths. But she’s very resilient and became a lot clearer on her strengths over the course of the programme.

What would you say to a colleague who was thinking about participating?

It’s a great learning experience for anyone. You’ll learn a lot of things about yourself – some good, some bad – whether it’s working in a team on managing yourself without judgement.

I’m still learning. The programme has allowed me to acknowledge my weaknesses and now I’m aware, I can change wherever they come up. It’s a huge learning process and eye opener and I would so recommend it. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone in doing this and it’s drove me to make the changes I needed.

Why do you think it’s important for organisations like Investec to run programmes like these?

I think it’s so important for Investec’s employees to learn interpersonal skills, appreciation for diversity, listening and avoiding judgement. It’s very easy to hear what we should be doing on development courses but to actually put the learnings into practise, you have to experience it first-hand. Arrival's Coaching Programme gives you the opportunity to do just that.

Your last session with Atiya is coming up – how do you feel?

Our last session is going to be a celebration. An acknowledgment of how far Atiya’s come and how much she’s put into it.

Thanks Michelle, we look forward to hearing all about it!


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