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Interview with Orla Carolan, Co-President of The Irish Chapter of the ICF

Orla Carolan Orla Carolan

Why did you join the International Coach Federation (ICF)?

I completed a Diploma in Executive and Life Coaching (and an additional QQI award) in September 2015 and at the time did some research into global coaching bodies and their associated accreditations, quality and ethical standards. These were all important to me in an industry that still remains unregulated.

I was looking to join an association that also had a strong presence on the ground in Ireland so that I could attend CPD events and develop a network within the industry. As part of my coaching Diploma I was also assessed and learned key coaching skills through the ICF Core competency areas so it seemed the right fit for me compared to other membership bodies.

What is the Irish Chapter (ICF Ireland) of the International Coach Federation?

The Irish Chapter of the ICF is a locally run membership group, managed by a voluntary board of directors all of whom are active members of ICF. Our role includes developing the profile of coaching, create value added services and events for our members which carry CPD against ICF core competencies, promoting credentialing for coaches and bringing awareness of coaching and it’s benefits to the wider community and business. We currently have 6 board members and also a virtual administrator who helps us in the day to day running of the Chapter. We also from time to time have members who support us on certain activities (advocates) and this year are in the process of setting up some member sub-committee’s to further develop and enhance the ICF Chapter.

What does it mean to be a member of the ICF Ireland Chapter?

The Irish Chapter is a great support network for members. It is an opportunity for them to attend a variety of events, meet other coach practitioners as well as our corporate sponsors and training schools who continually help us to develop what we do. We have a strong and active online presence and share thought leadership and articles around coaching, coaching culture and other related topics of interest to our community. We also run an annual awards ceremony which recognises excellence in coaching across all areas from life coaching to wellness or organisational coaching culture development. For me the best part of being a member of the Chapter is in developing relationships and sharing knowledge, coaches generally love to learn so it is a great place to be.

How did you become a Director and then the Co-President of ICF Ireland?

In my previous life before working at Grant Thornton People and Change Consulting I worked in finance. One of the previous directors asked me would I be interested in taking the role of director of finance in 2017 as it had become vacant so I agreed as I thought it was a good opportunity to get involved. After the first year of finding my way around I agreed to stay for another year. Very early in the year the president had to resign for personal reasons and so we were left with an open position and only two of the current board were eligible to take this up. So we agreed to share the role and have continued to do so into 2019 with 4 other directors supporting us.

Doing a voluntary directorship in addition to the day job is a lot of work at times and can be difficult to juggle. What has kept me involved is the people I work with in ICF and I have the support of Grant Thornton. We have also achieved a lot over the past two years and as finance director I was able to put some additional structure and processes in place, outsource activities relating to finance, administration and corporate secretarial to make the administration easier so the day to day is much less than it was initially which is great!

What does it mean to be a Director of ICF Ireland?

For me being a Director is about governance of the Chapter, having a strategy that serves our members, adding value, promoting high standards in coaching and having some fun along the way while doing this!

What has ICF Ireland done over the last two years?

We have been very proactive over the last two years whilst I have been Co-President with Siobhan Boucher being clear on our strategy, what we want to focus on and making sure that as a group we are realistic in what we can achieve given we all have full time jobs and other commitments. In doing this it is great to be able to focus on priorities we have agreed, work together and achieve results. One thing we had a big focus on last year was governance, review of our company documentation and procedures and outsourcing tasks that required an expert and also allowed us to then focus on strategic development instead of day to day administration.

Another area of focus was on developing our presence outside of Dublin and serving our members in different regions. This was helped by the fact that we now have two directors in NI and we ran our first ever event in Belfast last year in Crumlin Road Gaol which was a great success. We still have lots of work to do in this area and again this year will be trying to focus on regional development in particular in the midlands and west of Ireland.

We also did a lot of work around our annual Gala and coaching awards which have been running now for 6 years. We expanded our judging panel, introduced some new award categories, changed the format of the event and were able to create some new corporate partnerships to sponsor the award process which we need to run the event.

Why are ICF Ireland running this event on March 20th?

ICF Global run an annual conference each year in March and invite delegates from global chapters to this event to brainstorm and network around the organisation, approaches and development of individual chapters. This year Dublin was selected to host the event so we decided to run a local chapter event on the eve of the conference to “show off” ICF Ireland” and give our members an opportunity to attend an event alongside global delegates, corporate sponsors and guests. We are delighted that Grant Thornton are hosting and sponsoring this event for us in their City Quay office and we know it is an evening they will really enjoy. Our keynote speaker Gerry Duffy will talk to the audience about the power of asking more questions, a very apt presentation for the whole audience and one which will convey the power of coaching to the non-coaches in the room!

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