Founding Partner: Woodeson Kesby Organisational Coaching
James Woodeson studied for a degree in Banking and Finance at Loughborough, graduating in 2002. Since then, James has enjoyed a career in Banking, but is making a change. He will shortly be joining the British-Swiss Chamber of Commerce. He is also setting up his own Executive Coaching Business and is the Treasurer for European Network on Statelessness – here we find out about his various roles and some Loughborough anecdotes.
Two main reasons. First, the campus style and sporting history of the University. It was love at first sight. Second, the course offered a placement year in industry - real experience. This was practical and enjoyable. The outcome was a full time job post-graduation.
Strong foundations. It takes time to make an impact. Good foundations are essential. The year in industry and practical content of the course was invaluable. Making friends for life was also important. Our mutual progress helped us to inspire each other.
Did you take part in any extra-curricular activities during your studies? If so, what impact did these have on your experience?
I did far less sport than I thought I would! Since University I’ve run 7 marathons, so the sporting bug never left. I found that there genuinely was even more to Loughborough than sport. I did try kickboxing but the draw of socialising was often too much to resist.
I joined the global graduate scheme of HSBC Global Markets straight out of University and worked in five countries over a 15-year career. It was really enjoyable to progress from graduate to be a board director of subsidiaries of the Group, run businesses and manage teams.
When I moved to Zürich with the Bank, I decided that it was time for a change. I took a role as Secretary General of the British-Swiss Chamber of Commerce and instigated a turnaround which saw a seven-year decline in membership and income, turn into two years of growth.
However, my entrepreneurial spirit had been re-awakened! I had re-trained as an Executive Coach and founded Woodeson Executive Coaching. The growth in the business was so fast and enjoyable, I decided to leave the Chamber and focus fully on the business. My wife left her 17 year career in Management Consulting to join the business and we also joined forces with a UK based firm. We now run Woodeson Kesby Organisational Coaching, a professional coaching practice working with leaders, teams and whole organisations around the world.
Additionally, Woodeson Executive Coaching continues to thrive, offering both professional coaching, coaching supervision and coaching development through the Academy of Executive Coaching Switzerland, which we run from Zurich.
I’m now a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and volunteer as Zurich Chapter Leader for the ICF in Switzerland.
I have never, ever worked so hard in my life! Nor have I enjoyed it as much. Working for ourselves has been liberating, exhausting and exciting. We work with people all the time and it’s remarkably fulfilling. From San Francisco to Sydney, Munich, London, Basel, Madrid and beyond… we get around and we love what we do. It’s a commitment to a lifetime of learning about ourselves and others.
My wife and I have different skills and backgrounds, which work really well together. The biggest challenge has been to manage the boundaries around our relationship, our family, our business and our social life. It hasn’t been easy, and we are deliberate about investing into it. Without the relationship, the rest is irrelevant! This is the foundation for everything, and we have to trust each other for it to work.
We have also hired a highly skilled Program Manager. Whilst it was tempting to offshore everything, the importance and value of a local relationship has been invaluable.
We believe that everyone deserves to be led well. This is not solely about leadership. It is also about followership and the relationship each has with themselves, each other and their situation. It’s fascinating work as every person and situation is unique, dynamic and ever changing.
We work with individuals and teams across virtually every sector. The variety of subject matters is huge. The themes which are creating tension are often quite similar. This enables us to share our learning in many interesting ways.
Funnily enough, we are trying to make it as small as possible! Our aim is to get our cutting-edge research on Extra-Dependent Teams incorporated into the mindset of leaders. This is going to have a huge impact on how teams are led and developed.
An interesting anecdote on Loughborough. The very first person I met and spoke to outside my hall, Bill Mo has since been my best man and godfather to my eldest daughter. Loughborough provided the platform from which to develop ourselves and our future. For that, I will always have the fondest of memories.