Sara Corcoran

Professional background

I have a public sector background, with 20 years senior experience in Higher Education (including 11 years at Director of HR and OD level) and more than a decade in the NHS. In addition to contributing to the strategic leadership and development of the organisation, my roles have included supporting line managers and their staff through restructurings, relocations and mergers, as well as the more day-to-day issues arising in employment and career development. This means I have a good understanding of leading and managing in complex, unionised environments. I have been privileged to be involved in some hugely exciting projects, including playing a leading role in the launch of the University of Suffolk, supporting the merger between University College Falmouth and Dartington College of Art (now the University of Falmouth) and the rationalisation of hospital services in the Medway towns,

Constants throughout my career have been the need to understand the wider stakeholder system, the need to support staff through change and the need to attend to team effectiveness, with a focus on interpersonal skills and communications. A career in Human Resources (HR) and Organisational Development (OD) has kept me connected to people at all levels of the organisation, from the most junior to the Board, striving to make the work experience as good as it can be. I have built great working relationships with colleagues and helped them build teams to deliver excellent performance. Coaching and mentoring have been central to all my roles, whether generalist HR, learning and development or OD.

Coaching practice and philosophy

A driving force in my career has been the belief that work and workplaces should be developmental and supportive and I believe strongly in the transformative power of coaching to improve professional and personal lives and realise potential. I adopted an approach of ‘doing serious work with a lightness of touch’ from an early mentor and find that building trusting relationships, taking a pragmatic approach and, when appropriate, adding a little laughter, make work much more enjoyable. I am energised by working to make things better and have a strong commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. I am known for my approachability, my listening and my follow through on commitments.

I specialise in coaching executive directors and senior managers, although I take great pleasure in working with those who are in career transition. This might include leadership development coaching for those preparing for the next significant step on the career ladder, supporting those returning after a long absence or those reviewing their career options.

I bring my energy and interest to give active support and challenge to my clients, as we jointly work through a process of exploration and learning. Whilst clients hold responsibility for their choices and actions, I work with them collaboratively, through a range of approaches, tools and techniques, to help them realise new insights and progress towards their goals. Often these include bringing clarity to their decision making; developing greater self-knowledge; understanding the organisational context and culture; and improving team dynamics.

With the onset of the pandemic, much of my practice was to support individuals – and through them, their teams - in adjusting to sudden change and maintaining wellbeing. The focus of work has shifted now towards reviewing the resilience and sustainability of new working arrangements, effective virtual team management and developing plans for a ‘new normaI’.

Since March 2020, the majority of work has been conducted virtually. However, working outside enabled me to continue to meet some coachees for socially-distanced face-to-face meetings and provided the opportunity for some fresh air and gentle exercise as we walk and talk. I found the external environment to be a rich resource to support our work. This led me to the growing body of research which demonstrates the benefits for our thinking when working outdoors. Increasingly I incorporate the external environment into my practice.

In addition to 1-2-1 coaching and mentoring, I offer team coaching, Action Learning Set facilitation and facilitation of leadership and management workshops.

Phone: +44 (0)7708 893 493

Sara Corcoran (PDF, 125kB)