Participant interview: ILM Level 7 certificate in executive coaching and mentoring

Lucy Pollard, an executive director at a Global US investment company recently completed our ILM Level 7 certificate in executive coaching and mentoring. Here, she tells us about her experience of the course.

What first attracted you to the programme?

I was really keen to get qualified in executive coaching and I was drawn to OPM because they look professional and I liked the way they give a diverse perspective from the public sector. Another factor that played a big role is that unlike many similar programmes, this one is group-based and gives you the chance to get lots of practical experience.
What do you think you’ve gained from the programme?

Firstly, now that I can say that I’m a qualified executive coach, and having been through a rigorous programme and assessment, I feel much more credible from both a professional and personal standpoint. Secondly, I feel much more confident from a skills-set perspective in terms of being up to speed with the key methodology and the latest thinking. I also feel much more self-assured about being a good coach, which really matters when I’m coaching people who have very limited time and high-pressured jobs.

I feel like the programme has set me up for success, not only because it gave me lots of opportunities to practise, but because it’s given me a solid foundation to build on. Having support and guidance up-front has also been really helpful in terms of building up a strong skill-set and learning what my strengths are. It’s given me a self-awareness that I wouldn’t have got if I’d done just done the programme on-site.
Have you had the chance to use the techniques that you learnt from the programme?

Yes. I work with high performing vice-presidents who are recognised as being future leaders, and it’s been really valuable to be able to challenge their perspective. These are the type of people who don’t usually have the opportunity or the time to take part in coaching. But they’ve been very receptive to it and I feel that I’ve made a real difference to how they are performing in their jobs. I also feel like I’m still constantly learning. For example, even if a session doesn’t go as well as I would have hoped, now I can evaluate exactly why that was and work out what I can improve next time.
You said one of the attractions of the OPM programme is that it’s mostly public sector, whereas you come from the private global investment sector?

In a fast paced working environment learning and development tends to be lean and efficiently timed. In reality this means a day’s course could become a two hour course, and so on. One of the key differences with this programme was that the tutors and participants have the time and patience allocated to this to spend more time to looking at best practices in coaching, leadership and management thoroughly.

I also found it interesting to hear the different challenges that you have in the public sector versus the private sector. A lot of my colleagues are quite young and ambitious, and they can get promoted very, very quickly. This brings up a whole set of different challenges that they have to face. Whereas in the public sector, there seems to be more focus on career longevity – people have been in their positions for much longer.

Finally it was fascinating to hear the different scenarios that coaches are facing now that public services are having to operate in such a lean and high-pressured environment.

On a more personal note, it was great to be able to build a network of contacts outside of the private sector, where all my previous learning has come from.
What did you think of the structure of the programme?

I thought pace of learning was very well structured as I was given lots of time to think and to practise, and my tutor was simply an excellent teacher. We were given so much support and direct teaching, without which I don’t think I would have passed as I wouldn’t have had the time to really invest in it.
And finally, would you recommend the course to your colleagues?

Yes, I already have. One of my team members is currently on the course and I have very strongly recommended it to my colleagues.
If you are interested in taking part in our executive coaching and mentoring programme, please get in touch with Yee-Mai Koo at or on 0207 239 7874.