Caroline McGuire (FCPHR) Owner Clariti Consulting is a HR Specialist and Coach, with over twenty years experience. Caroline is a member of the National Board of Directors of the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) and the Queensland AHRI State President. She is also a Board Director of Re-Think, Re-Engage Australia, and an experienced mentor.
With a background in corporate human resources in the Engineering and Technology industries, Caroline took the leap to transition from her corporate career 2 years ago and founded Clariti Consulting. She uses neuroscience and coaching methodologies for leadership development and executive coaching, and also provides HR consultancy services to organisations across the entire employee lifecycle.
At Clariti Consulting, your work is focused on Engineering and Technology organisations. Tell us how combining neuroscience and emotional intelligence methodologies has impacted your coaching outcomes in these highly technical professions?
I find there is a tendency to promote professionals into leadership roles based on their strong technical performance, with limited preparation or support for them in their new role. While this happens in many sectors I feel it has a more significant impact for both the technical employee and their organisation. Being able to support and develop these emerging, new and consolidating leaders is a privilege and doing it in a way that makes sense for them is important.
The neuroscience of leadership, based on research and constantly evolving science, provides a way to talk about emotional intelligence and self-awareness in a way that is easy for them to understand and apply. When working closely with individuals through coaching, or groups in leadership development programs, I can coach them towards a better understanding of self and others, helping them to apply this knowledge in the workplace. This allows for greater performance and role satisfaction for the individual, increased engagement within their team, and high productivity for the organisation.
You are currently a Director on the National Board of the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI). How does your experience as an industry practitioner shape your board contribution?
I’ve been very lucky to have been an elected State Councillor of AHRI for several years, performing the role of State President since 2015 and in May 2018 I stepped into a Board role with AHRI. My multi-faceted role as an HR consultant, AHRI member and State President allow me to bring a unique perspective to my Board role. I’m constantly receiving feedback from our Queensland members – directly and through my other Councillors – and this helps shape my understanding of what our members need from their national association.
Tell us about how you successfully transitioned your career from corporate to consulting. What were your biggest ‘a-ha’ moments?
Almost exactly two years ago I stepped out of my corporate role into self-employment as a consultant. While I’d heard many of my connections talk about the constant roller-coaster of consulting, it’s an entirely different thing to live it daily. You need to be constantly looking ahead to ensure a pipeline of work, while delivering well for your current clients. Finding ways to authentically market my business and build relationships with new potential clients has been a steep learning curve.
One of my biggest ‘a-ha’ moments was when I realised by being ‘too generalist’ my message to market was so vague people didn’t understand the value I could offer. I then niched down to focus on the industry sectors where I felt I had the most experience and could best market myself – the engineering and technology sectors.
As a Board Director for Re-Think, Re-Engage Australia, what would you like people to know about harnessing the talent of older workers?
Re-think Re-engage is in the early stages of establishment and we seek to create awareness that older workers are a valuable resource and, given our changing social demographics, are an important part of the solution for the talent, knowledge and productivity challenges ahead. We aim to support both workers and organisations to maximise the contribution of older workers and remove barriers for employment.
What has been your greatest challenge?
In this context the one that springs to mind is probably moving out of my corporate career and into consulting. I think many of us who work in HR can struggle with the transition to self-employment and a ‘sales mindset’. While I’ve been trying to use a range of approaches and call upon assistance from the experts, at the end of the day I still need to take responsibility for the business development activities within my business. Let’s just say that’s a work in progress.
What are you most proud of?
I’m so very proud to almost be celebrating my second anniversary in business. As we know, there are many who don’t make it this far. I’m also proud of my two wonderful adult children who are each walking their own path in life.
My pathway to the role of Director with AHRI was quite long due to the selection process and doubts crept in. I’m thankful to my support network who encouraged me throughout the process. Of my career achievements so far, this one’s a highlight.
What’s one piece of advice for future female leaders?
The advice I often give is to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. You never know where you’ll end up. And also seek those opportunities out – they don’t always just land in your lap. Show initiative and drive and always put your hand up for that stretch assignment.
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