In a world of personal busyness, family focus and client commitments, hpc’s Deirdre Foley believes that a positive and active mindset is key to her restoring balance and achieving performance.
Deirdre’s work as an hpc facilitator and coach is focused extensively at senior leadership level across the tech, utilities and finance sectors. Prior to joining hpc, she worked at a senior level in international IT sales, before pursuing professional training in executive coaching at UCD. She holds an MSc and professional diplomas in Business and Executive Coaching and Coaching Psychology as well as a host of other professional body accreditations. At present, she is studying for a Team Coaching qualification with Ashridge Management School.
Most clients and colleagues will be aware of Deirdre’s tenacious nature, aspirational attitude and positive outlook. They may know that she is a triathlete competing from Sprint to Ironman distance events at home and abroad and is dedicated to regular training whenever and wherever she can. She enjoys personal fitness, a sense of achievement and challenging herself at any opportunity.
Coupled with the behavioural change work she does for hpc, Deirdre sees a strong link between such personal activity and positive corporate performance; in terms of building resilience, facing challenges and reaching new heights.
“Life outside work and taking time for yourself is extremely important. For me, it’s all about family commitments and challenging myself physically. I can connect the way that challenges and achievement in sport give me the energy to push myself at work. They naturally balance each other and provide an energy that comes through in my everyday client work,” she says.
Anyone who encounters Deirdre will be familiar with her engaging energy and positive outlook. They will recognise this ‘strong link’ in the way she works. But Deirdre is also in a fantastic position as an Executive Coach and Facilitator to constantly spot these links in other people.
“I regularly get drawn into conversations while coaching individuals or facilitating a group about the pressures of work and people’s individual abilities to cope and push their own boundaries. I often see people who have balance, wellness and personal focus in their lives, being more effective in their corporate roles as a result of this ability to switch off from work.”
“We all know that “work-life balance” is something we should take seriously. It’s high on people’s agendas but time is often an issue. Looking after yourself, enjoying what matters to you and taking the time to prioritise these things are extremely important from a personal perspective as well as contributing towards better performance at work,” she adds.
Many organisations view “work-life balance” as an important component of their workplace culture, going as far as integrating the concept into their formal policies. They do this because they see real value in fostering healthy and well-rounded employees.
Deirdre observes that “when we find and sustain a healthy work-life balance, we develop a greater control over our focus and ability to concentrate on the task at hand and raise the bar of our ability. We all encounter new challenges that we need to overcome and just as we are feeling comfortable with one achievement, another scenario comes along to test us. As a result, we’re continually flexing and balancing to move ourselves forward.”
“For me, there is a strong relationship between regular physical activity and emotional well-being. The stronger your emotional well-being the stronger your ability to build resilience and inner strength to cope with what ‘life throws at you’.”
But while sport may be Deirdre’s forte, the same logic can be applied to other personal interests that strike the same balance. Other hobbies or activities to retreat to on a regular basis can ease the mounting pressure people feel from work. Individual “me time” pursuits can provide relaxation and time to recharge, while team or group activities provide social psychological benefits.
Whether it’s cooking, art, music, dancing, yoga or any other personal interest; everything has a place in people’s individual worlds and all contribute to personal health and wellbeing, which transfers over to the workplace.
The value of hobbies on professional lives goes beyond just personal health. Employers value healthy employees for the sake of productivity, but they also value well-rounded employees that offer diverse perspectives, creativity and personal connections.
Deirdre knows too well the pressures of the corporate world, through previous roles at sales director level in IT for a number of national and multinational organisations.
“It’s about finding the time to get joy from the simple things in life,” Deirdre reiterates.
“Time is scarce and while I can make time to train on my own, quite often involving my family brings even more enjoyment. As soon as it was safe for them, my children were strapped safely onto the back of my bike and involved in my training and are now getting to the age where they can outperform me at park runs, swimming and soon biking too! The outdoor environment is part and parcel of their lives too and it is an extremely rewarding way to spend time together.”
Deirdre’s strength lies in her positive spirit; that is at the heart of her work as a coach and facilitator. Her motivation for what she does is driven by her energy to engage with people and deliver the best results for the clients she works with.
“Creating a lasting impact is central to my work. I am constantly using the power of positivity to do the best job to develop people to be more mentally and physically resilient leaders and become more aware and conscious of their behaviours and impacts on others,” she says.
Throughout this work Deirdre has encountered many stories of how people have or are trying to implement their own personal balance in whatever way works for them and she believes strongly that “personal development drives professional development.”
“Switching off from work and giving your personal life equal measures of attention is vital; so, find the time to spark an interest, ignite a passion or discover a new path.”
hpc’s ‘Facilitator Focus’ series is a celebration of our client-facing team of coaches and facilitators - to share their insights, motivations and where they find joy that inspires their work. As the series progresses, we will introduce you to other members of our team who drive our client work at hpc.