Ansa Javed - Global Financial Services company
By every business metric, Ansa Javed’s career is a resounding success. She’s worked hard, positively progressing herself to become a trusted, senior executive with a leading global financial services company. Yet something was nagging away at Ansa. Despite fluency in four languages, she kept receiving feedback that she needed to elevate her communication in leadership meetings - to quickly get to the point and be more succinct. The trouble was she didn’t know how to do it.
Ansa wasn’t seeking a coach when she met Susan at a workshop. Indeed, she’d never heard of voice and communication coaching for those in business. But Susan’s short session was bursting with practical exercises.
"I could immediately see the value in what she was sharing and how I could use it. Susan has a lovely calming presence and I loved how comfortable she made her audience. Her communications style is fabulous. I guess you’d say she really resonated with me that day, so I left her my business card," says Ansa.
There were a few hurdles to overcome before Ansa and Susan started working together. "I had to convince myself first and then my bosses, but eventually I got the green light to go ahead and explore."
That exploratory journey started right from the outset, with nailing down objectives. These objectives spanned everything from: Handling challenging communications, flexing credibly between communication styles, improving confidence as a presenter, establishing leadership style and reinforcing brand presence.
"Getting to the answers for some of this stuff was emotive because I was having to dig deep to understand what was driving my thinking and behaviour. I’d not had an external coach before, so I didn’t realise how much I’d need to open up to help myself. I think for many people there’s always a work self and a home self. To get beneath what was driving my reactions though it was impossible to separate the two."
Bringing down those barriers between the personal and professional realms was one of the most challenging but critical aspects of working with a coach for Ansa. "It’s critical you find a coach you can build a relationship of trust with. You don’t want to be holding back because by doing that you are holding back help. You have to be brave enough to truly open up because, when you do, the benefits are inestimable. I was fortunate I found that trusted coach in Susan. I think we were destined to work together, given when we met I wasn’t even seeking a coach."
Ansa would arrive at her coaching sessions with examples of her experiences, how she’d responded and what she could have done differently to get a better outcome. "Just the process of talking it through would often enable me to find the answer from within. But Susan has a great way of extracting answers from you. She also offers tips and tools that may seem small but are incredibly powerful."
Ansa admits to being hesitant about putting some of these tools and techniques into practice at first. "When you are outside that safe coaching space and your actions matter, I doubted myself. That little voice would creep in and tell me: ‘This isn’t working’. But I was brave and tried a few things because I was determined to get a better result in those leadership meetings. What I quickly saw was ‘this is totally working’. Then my confidence grew. The more I did, the more positive feedback I got. After that there was no going back because so much was working so well. I’ve seen a direct correlation between my time with Susan and improved results."
In the Spring, Ansa is broadening her leadership skills with an internal secondment that sees her moving from her current specialist HR role to a more generalist one. With a broader range of stakeholders, there will be a greater focus on her communications so Ansa is again working with Susan to help accelerate her smooth transition.
"I think a great coaching relationship is helpful at different stages in your career. I made tangible progress in a very short space of time when I last worked with Susan. The results weren’t just evident to me but those I worked with. So, when I knew my role was to change, I could see the benefits of embarking on coaching with Susan again. I knew our relationship would continue to give more."
I’d be lying if I said I’d stuck to everything from my initial seven sessions with Susan, but I tried everything once. When others started noticing a positive change that became the motivation to continue to be brave, to use these tools and carry on. And the impacts are lasting. I’ve moderated external panels – something I would never have previously done had Susan not instilled the confidence in me.
One recent session didn’t go as well as I would have liked and my inner critic kicked in. But I can now keep that negative voice in perspective. I was able to quickly draw breath and think 'okay next time, here’s how I could do it better’. The main lesson I took from that experience was that I’d broken the ice by moderating my first event beyond my specialist area of expertise, that I could do it, that I could grow from it, and that I would do it again.
Ansa Javed is regional head of compensation and regulatory reward for a global financial services organisation. The specialist role within HR, sees her overseeing a team of six with responsibility for pay reviews, compensation and offers, as well as compliance with remuneration regulations. Having been with this business for four years, Ansa is preparing for a two year internal secondment to a more generalist role - as a senior HR business partner. She began working with Susan in 2019 and will continue to do so during her transition through 2021.