Aisling Burnand MBE

Aisling Burnand portrait for About PageAs a CEO and a former director of high-profile UK organisations, I know what leadership and senior management can throw at you. I’ve climbed the career ladder and experienced those sky-rocketing stress levels, moments of self-doubt and impossibly hard choices for myself. I’ve also flexed my career as my life has evolved, and appreciate just how hard making decisions about your career can be. I bring all this experience to my coaching.

Coaching qualifications

I am a professional, accredited (CPCC) coach who trained with the Coaches Training Institute (CTI), an industry leader and pioneer in co-active coaching. I am also accredited by the International Coaches Federation and I am a licensed Firework Career Coach and an accredited StrengthscopeTM practitioner using 360o psychometric feedback.

Life experience

I enjoyed a successful career in the biosciences industry which culminated in my roles as Chief Executive of the BioIndustry Association (BIA) and Executive Director of Policy and Public Affairs for Cancer Research UK.

Being Chief Executive of the BIA was especially challenging. It was my first such senior role, and I managed to build the profile of the organisation at a time of severe budget cuts. The work involved lobbying and achieving consensus amongst a disparate group of people across the UK and the EU in order to change legislation in numerous areas.

Both these senior roles required me to lead teams, make sometimes controversial decisions, negotiate with multiple stakeholders and campaign for industry-wide change. They were demanding and exceptionally rewarding and led to an MBE. But they were not always easy and I needed to grow to meet the challenges they threw at me. (For further details you can see my LinkedIn profile)

At the same time I had a young family. I had my two sons during this period and life required an incredible amount of juggling. I first worked with a coach when I became CEO of the BIA. I’d never been a CEO before and requested a coach because I wanted a sounding board and a confidante. My achievement would just not have been possible without such support.

It was also during my time at the BIA that I discovered the strengths-based approach to leadership. It helped me to adapt my leadership style and gave me invaluable insight into facilitating consensus between different stakeholder groups. I passionately believe in its philosophy and believe that strengths-based leadership is the right way to lead in the 21st century.

Making a change

In 2011 I decided I needed to make a change. Physically I needed to give my health priority – I was dealing with constant neck and back pain that needed rest and rehabilitation. I wanted a new challenge and a way to work that would give me more time with my family at a critical time for us.

It was whilst working with my coach on reviewing my strengths that I discovered that I had a talent for nurturing people. This insight, combined with my personal experience influenced my decision to qualify as a coach and set up DNA Coaching in 2012.

Building a portfolio career

I have always been involved with initiatives and projects beyond my day job. I’ve chosen these based on my values and where I believe my input can make a positive difference.

Coaching is enabling me to build myself a portfolio of work that I’ve identified as being necessary to my fulfilment. I’m currently a trustee for the Campaign for the Advancement of Science and Engineering and Deputy Chair of Governors at the St Joan of Arc Primary School. I also mentor a number of people in the not-for-profit sector. I’m always on the lookout for new opportunities.

What I love about my work

I love seeing people grow and transform – I love the ah-ha moments when the penny drops. I love it when a person accepts a challenge to do something they have been resisting and then they have a breakthrough: they move from I can’t to I can; they go and ask for that pay rise, or to work a 4-day week.

My advice to anyone thinking of working with a coach: be open and honest with them, and with yourself. If you don’t, you are robbing yourself of an opportunity to grow.

Get in touch to discuss what you need.

A big thank you to Penny Millar for the portraits on this site.