The inside track on working parents

Jannine Oates is the Managing Director of Inspirit Learning Partners, a leadership and business coaching consultancy based in Yorkshire. She regularly travels across the world to deliver leadership and management training to large, global organisations including Adidas, Morrisons supermarkets and Jaguar Landrover, but also coaches working parents, something she knows about from her own personal experience as a mum and a stepmum.

Jannine Oates is the Managing Director of Inspirit Learning Partners, a leadership and business coaching consultancy based in Yorkshire. She regularly travels across the world to deliver leadership and management training to large, global organisations including Adidas, Morrisons supermarkets and Jaguar Landrover, but also coaches working parents, something she knows about from her own personal experience as a mum and a stepmum.

She has been nominated for several awards for her work.  Last year, she not only doubled her turnover, but was shortlisted in the ‘Engage’ category of the MumpreneurUK awards, and also reached the finalist stage of the networking group ‘Forward Ladies’ awards, where she was shortlisted for Best Home-based Business Woman.

Jannine has been self employed for five years and set up Inspirit Learning Partners, her second business, in 2012. In addition to her business, she also finds the time to be Vice Chair of her local Calderdale chapter of the Federation of Small Businesses and is a mentor for her local authority.

Her background is in recruitment training and sales and she was a corporate account manager in charge of large accounts, but then the recruitment industry changed and Jannine felt it was not for the better and left. She moved into management development and worked as a trainer/facilitator for CragRats, an innovative learning and education provider until the company went under and began doing contract and consultancy work for organisations including 02.

Around five years ago she launched her first development management business Creative Oates. Six to seven months later she fell pregnant, a bit sooner than she had anticipated. She admits that it was a challenge and that she had to coach herself through it. She had qualified as a Dale Carnegie trainer, specialising in leadership performance and needed all those skills to get her through. Her partner was self employed in the construction industry. It was the middle of the recession and finances were difficult. She had to go back to work just three months after giving birth to her son Oliver.

“It was not easy going to work and needing to have energy to inspire people. I drove home from one event with a big corporate who was one of my first clients and I was so tired I could not speak. I had hardly slept due to the baby. I could hardly summon up the energy to get myself and Oliver into the bath,” says Jannine. “I had had a dream of what being a mum for the first time would be like. I had to come to terms with the fact that that dream was not my reality or it would have eaten away at me.”

Working parents

She began to specialise in coaching working parents since she was meeting a lot of them through her work with corporates. “It has always been an interest of mine due to being a step-parent,” she says. She has been a stepmother for the last seven years. She recently launched her Working Parent Coaching programmes, dedicated to helping parents return to work after maternity/paternity leave with confidence, as well as achieving a strong work/life balance.

She says the issue that comes up most with parents, including dads, is guilt. “Mums in particular feel guilty about having any time for themselves rather than seeing it as important to help them keep going,” she says. Another issue for mums returning to work is confidence. 

The working parent coaching focuses on the most common hurdles that working parents encounter, including return to work, work/life balance and how to prioritise workload in conjunction with family life. Jannine also works with employers to help them support their working parents and carers. The working parent coaching for employers focuses on establishing a business’ reputation as an employer that parents want to work for, strengthening their relationship with their working parent employees and developing a committed and productive workforce and developing their support for working parents and how this will impact their bottom line.

Jannine, who is a big advocate of flexible working and works four days a week which she hopes to reduce to three, is a Clifton StrengthFinder coach and helps people to discover their top five innate strengths and how they can use these every day to achieve success. “It’s very helpful for my work with working parents. We work on how we can maximise their natural talents and this gives them more confidence. Once they are aware of these they come on in huge leaps and bounds,” she says. She has worked with local businesswomen and others to build their feelings of self belief.  “I support a speedy mind-set shift from I can’t to I can. It’s about empowering people, not telling them what to do.” She hopes to build her work on working parents in 2015.

Her coaching is conducted face to face, by telephone or over Skype. Inspirit has three other “igniters” – a parent coach, an associate leadership facilitator and a lead consultant – who work on an associate basis with corporates while Jannine works on business development issues. Jannine does her administrative and Skype work from home, but has a virtual office in Halifax which she uses for client coaching, workshops and meetings and is otherwise based mainly at client sites. “It’s a very flexible business model,” she says. “The heart of it is my family.”





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