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How these young people found coaching early and are paying it forwards

Updated: Mar 10, 2023

It’s International Coaching Week. What better way to share coaching’s transformative power than in the words of those it has positively impacted?

Coaching’s usually the preserve of senior executives but this last, unprecedented year I’ve been delivering pro bono student schools to make coaching available to young people when they need it most – before they embark on their professional careers.

My Make Your Mark group coaching programme for students has already helped more than a hundred young people freely benefit from coaching – giving them awareness and practical tools to improve their mental health, performance, and career prospects.

11 of them, all currently at university, are now coaching converts and Make Your Mark Ambassadors – volunteering their time to help their peers access my future pro-bono programmes and with it the essential skills professional coaching develops. In exchange, this Ambassador community get ongoing monthly group-coaching development with me and, most recently have each also experienced 121 coaching with HR leader Denise Shillito and fellow coach Tracy Sinclair MCC.

Here’s how they describe their experiences of coaching, why they’re so passionate about it and why they’re now keen to pay forwards its benefits…

Emily Mason, Make Your Mark Ambassador

"Despite the well-documented rise in mental health challenges for young people in this past year, there’s still nobody at my university talking about the inner critic – it’s like the elephant in the room. Susan’s coaching insights unravelled lots of things for me. This is learning that stays with you forever, that helps in the good times and the bad. I’m an Ambassador because this learning will change your life."

Emily Mason graduates Heriot-Watt this summer

with a Masters in Engineering.

“Young people absolutely need access to the softer skills and tools coaching makes available - that’s why I’m an Ambassador. Susan’s mindset and inner critic session is so impactful – afterwards we were a completely different group – we really bonded. It helped us all see that we should be confident in ourselves and the ways we are different. That it’s okay to be ourselves and to embrace it.”

Beth Thom is completing her 3rd year as a Heriot-Watt - undergraduate MA International Business Management.

“A book can teach what you should do to improve your presence but that doesn’t help you with how. The interaction, core skills and practical tools Susan gives as a coach are incomparable. That’s why I’m now an Ambassador, these soft yet essential skills are totally nonexistent on the university scene - in a shameful way because they’re so important to employability.”

Edward Sheasby graduates St Andrews this summer with a Geography degree.


“I’m an Ambassador because I want others to understand the benefits coaching brought me. Previously I’ve dealt with crippling anxiety - it was taking over my life. Susan’s programme gave me techniques that I’ve now implemented, and they’ve helped me brilliantly. Yes, coaching absolutely will help you in your professional life, but it will also benefit you in everyday life.”

Lewis Traill is about to complete his third of a five-year Master’s, studying Mechanical Engineering at The University of Edinburgh

Naomi Oamen, Make Your Mark Ambassador

“I was adamant about learning more vocal skills and getting better at articulating myself because I know that’s going to be key in my chosen profession. Once you know your problem areas and you know there’s a way to improve them, you become less insecure. I now want others to experience coaching’s power - particularly those from different backgrounds and race – that’s why I’ve become an Ambassador.”

Naomi Oamen graduates Dundee this year with a Law degree.

“At my age, without this coaching programme, I would never have realised what I discovered through this experience. I got so much out of it that I’m so thankful for. Now I’ve become an Ambassador because I want to share my experiences. There is such a need and demand for young people to find and unlock their actual potential.”

Lauren Johnston graduates Heriot-Watt this September

with a Master's in Business Strategy, Leadership and Change.

“At the end of a meeting a colleague told me they thought my contribution had been powerful. I explained what I’d learned on Susan’s coaching programme about the power of hand gestures. Being able to coach a cohort of 40 young people and give them all something they want, something they need, something they enjoy, I’d say that’s exceptional. That’s why I’ve become a coaching convert and programme Ambassador.”

Salman-ur Rehman graduates Heriot-Watt this summer with a Masters in Chemical Engineering.

“These skills we’ve started developing through coaching will benefit us so much in the future. We’re not even in the business environment yet, so if we can start implementing them now, when we’re young, they’ll keep developing. What’s important is that if you start to fix things now and keep going, you keep getting to the best version of yourself.

Emma Boyle is completing her penultimate year at Heriot-Watt studying International Business Management with Marketing.


“The wealth of practical insights coaching makes available could help a great deal of young people – that’s why I’m an Ambassador. I’m keen for other young people to benefit, to appreciate that it’s not something you’re graded on, so you don’t have to be perfect. Coaching enables you to be yourself, reflect on yourself, it’s an enjoyable experience.”

Zeynep Aydin is in her junior year at Brown studying Computer Sciences and Psychology.

“Recently, at a virtual careers fair, I applied the techniques Susan had given me – using my breathing and posture to calm myself, to ready myself to speak and ask questions. I’m an Ambassador because coaching helps you gain the skills you need to ready yourself for what’s going to happen over the next few years.”

Kirsty Mitchell is completing her penultimate year at Heriot-Watt studying a Chemical Engineering Master's.

“Susan’s coaching sessions helped me understand that to influence, make an impact, and create change in business requires a good team and that requires my being a great teammate. I’m an Ambassador because I want to show others self-enhancement is ongoing, gradual progress. It’s about taking steady baby steps.”

Khalis Ariff is completing his penultimate year at Edinburgh studying a Chemical Engineering degree.


Susan was writing to celebrate the art, science, and practice of professional coaching this International Coaching Week (17th and 23rd May 2021). If you have never experienced the transformative power of coaching check out the wealth of free events curated by the International Coaching Federation this week.

Susan Room is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Professional Certified Coach (PCC) and professional voice coach. She’s one of the rare few qualified to provide voice and executive coaching, her unique approach sees her help others feel, look and sound confident – improving performance and happiness at work. She offers virtual group programmes and workshops - valuable to those at every career stage. She also works with corporate leaders and high potential executives on a 121 basis.

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