Meet Alex Dixon, Group Account Head at global marketing agency Byte London. Giving back and helping a young person realise their potential is really important to Alex. Read about his Future Frontiers coaching journey with ambitious 14-year old Iman, as they explored inspiring careers and post-16 pathways.
(Didn’t catch his coachee Iman’s story? You can read that story here too!)
"Throughout my life, a lot of people have helped me out, whether that's just small bits of advice from friends or family, or actual coaches when I was at school. And I know that those small seeds of advice or guidance that get planted in youth might not lead to big things straight away, but you remember them and they can take root and grow. I’ve got to a stage now where it's really nice to be able to give back. So I wanted to be a coach to help others and see them progress.
"I could see his brain ticking over, thinking that he could do this or could be that."
For me, the most rewarding aspect of being a coach with Future Frontiers was seeing Iman grow and being really inspired and excited about the possibilities in his future. I could see his brain ticking over, thinking that he could do this or could be that.
The first coaching session
In our first coaching session I was slightly nervous, and I imagine it was the same for Iman. But it was lovely to see someone so ambitious and excited about the possibilities of a career. I think I saw a bit of myself in him, in that I didn’t necessarily know what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to do something, and I knew I wanted to do it well.
The first activities were about learning about each other and building that trust. And we had really great conversations around football teams and favourite cars! And with that rapport established we could then start talking about really important questions, like what he wanted to do, what his end goal was, or what skills he has now.
"What we learned in our sessions is that there are so many different paths."
Iman started his coaching journey with a big dream and a vision for what he wanted to do and achieve, which is amazing at his age. He wanted to go into the property industry but he didn’t really know how to get into it. At the outset I think he believed there was only one route to get to where he wanted. What we learned in our sessions is that there are so many different paths, and it was interesting to explore his career options together.
For example, one of his main skill sets is maths, which can be used across a range of different jobs. So, we considered how he could potentially apply what excites him about maths, to a career in the property industry. We also looked at other related industries.
And one bit of advice I was able to share was that there is often no perfectly straight line that leads you directly to where you want to get to. Normally there are twists and turns along the way. I was trying to manage Iman’s expectations, but also show that if one door closes, another opens. I think he really got that towards the end.
Breaking things into steps
Another important part of our coaching journey was breaking down his career goal into smaller, concrete, and achievable steps. For example, doing GCSEs, choosing a course to study after that; exploring whether that would be in a Sixth Form or college; then choosing a degree course and which university to study at. There was a bit of back and forth, and because he’s ambitious he did get drawn into different directions, but he did find a clearer path forward.
"An important part of our coaching journey was breaking down his career goal into smaller, concrete, and achievable steps."
In the final session I dialled in an estate agent to join our conversation, and he was really helpful in describing the reality and the day-to-day nature of the job. So after having explored all sorts of possibilities and options, it was really rewarding to see how Iman went full circle. Now knowing all the steps involved and hearing from a professional role model, it reaffirmed that estate management is the direction he wants to go.
Being supported as a coach
The support from Future Frontiers was really, really great in lots of different ways: whether that was giving full details at the beginning of what to expect; the coaching handbook and links to different sources of information; or the Future Frontiers Programme Manager being always available as a sounding board and source of advice in how to be a good coach.
Growing as a coach
You do learn quite a lot about yourself by being a coach.
It also helps in the workplace. Being a manager, I’m always thinking, how can I help my team? How can I support them to do better?
"I feel better equipped to advise and support colleagues, and people I manage."
My message to Iman
If Iman was here now, I would say: continue to be ambitious, continue to do everything that you want to do in life. I'm a firm believer that you can do as much as possible. And always go back to why you want to achieve the things that you do. Think about work life balance, think about how you can impact and help others around you."
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