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Fabienne has a wealth of global experience in management and leadership
Fabienne Perreux, a certified ICF (International Coach Federation) and COMENSA (Coach and Mentor South Africa) coach is also a graduate of SACAP’s (South African College of Applied Psychology) Post- Graduate course in Leadership and Coaching. A French national, currently based in South Africa, Fabienne has a wealth of global experience in management and leadership; sales and entrepreneurship. Here, she shares her valuable insights into her development as a coach, and her experience of establishing a highly successful coaching practice currently servicing such clients as Absa-Barclays, Robert Walters, Pierre Fabre, BOC, Alstom, GE, Impact and many others.
Having graduated with an MBA from Clemson University in South Carolina, and then working across France, America, Spain and Japan to develop sales and international teams, why did you become a coach? “I wanted to contribute to the business community in a different way by helping people and organisations to develop their highest potential in a sustainable and human way. I have 20 years of business experience, and I realised how subtle things can make a big difference when it comes to communicating with, managing and coaching individuals. This was exciting to me, and I wanted to focus on optimising my experience and learning.”
What has brought you the greatest joy and fulfilment as a coach? “What inspires me is that moment when people realise that they hold the reins to their lives. They become aware of their own inside enemy and then they consciously define their journey and adapt their behaviours to achieve their goals. I really enjoy working with people without judgment and attachment to my preconceived ideas of what their journey and timing should be. It is deeply rewarding for me when one day a client explains to me all they have been realising and understanding thanks to the coaching alliance we built together.”
What has been your greatest challenge as a coach? “Contracting in a corporate environment sometimes involves situations where sponsors and coachees differ on the coaching objectives. This is a challenge because the goal must be clear. Often this is not about working with ‘coachable’’ people or not, but more about our responsibility as coaches to get the first step of contracting right.”
In the process of studying to become a coach, what was the personal learning you most appreciate? “Initially, I had a view of myself as open-minded and integrated because I would apply to others what and how I would like others to interact and behave with me. But then I realised that this is not about me and what I need; nor about the way I might wish people to behave with me. I learned that it was up to me as the coach to have the capacity to adapt my style to what people actually need and wish to be their best selves.”
How did your SACAP studies and qualification impact on you as a coach? “My post-graduate studies at SACAP gave me a deep and solid foundation for coaching. It enabled me to be certified by both the ICF and Comensa. The training helped me look at different and various coaching approaches with fundamentals in mind so that with any tool and approach I use, I don’t lose track following fads because I am grounded by the roots and purpose of coaching. It also gave me a good understanding of psychology and various schools of thought which greatly enrich me intellectually as a coaching practitioner.”
You work as a coach across countries and cultures. Do you have to change your coaching approach dependent on who your client is? “Indeed, in some countries I find that I need to coach with a more directive style than in others, whether with coachees directly or with the sponsors. Also sometimes I need to include more mentoring approaches when and where it is helpful to the coachees’ situations.”
In your view, what is on the horizon for the profession of coaching? “I think that coaches will grow to be an integral part of the corporate world and life in general as organisations are seeing the importance and need to foster fulfilment and connection with all stakeholders.”
How can coaching help South Africans embrace diversity? “Coaching helps us to understand ourselves first in order to understand where others are coming from. This is an important step leading to the welcoming and embracing of diversity. Coaching processes don’t aim to getting us all on the same page by agreeing with one view – it helps to get us to understand and be capable of hearing and understanding other people’s views regardless of our agreement.”
How is technology changing coaching? “Assessments, tools and tasks can be managed through new platforms. Technology helps bridge geographical boundaries and establish sustainable mediums for accessibility. Mediums like Skype, hangouts and apps such as Zoom can be used for individual and group coaching. It helps if a coach is comfortable with new media that suit clients’ needs and lives. Mastering the appropriate technologies is part of being a coach.”
What are the top three insights you would offer to a person considering a coaching career? “Invest time and money in experiencing coaching yourself first, learning more about psychology and finding those opportunities to practice, practice, practice…. This is an important aspect that SACAP offers through its education programmes. Be clear about your purpose and vision when you choose coaching as a career. Have a strategic plan to develop your coaching business with the right networking, connections and partners.”
What career opportunities can a credentialed coach expect to explore? “Opportunities are diverse whether you choose to be an internal coach or an independent one. In my view, opportunities present themselves easily if you are able to offer diverse activities. Lots of tools in your toolbox means that you can be of greater value to diverse clients; helping them according to their actual, individualised needs. This is true whether the opportunity is more about an individual or a group or a team; and true whether you are providing coaching, mentoring or training.”