Sunday Independent - 12th September 2014 by Sarah Caden
Coach for the right direction
IT WOULD be helpful when you're filling out your CAO," says Michael Hogerziel, 18, of the career coaching he received from Greg Dalton while waiting for his Leaving Certificate results.
"Or maybe a year before the exams," he goes on. "Or maybe when you're choosing your subjects. I don't know, I suppose I'm just annoyed that I didn't get it a bit earlier."
Reflecting during those days between receiving his results and receiving an offer from the CAO, neither outcome is unhappy for the Wicklow student, but knowing what he does now, there is a sense of could have done better. With some effort, motivation and sense of direction his points could have been higher and more finely tuned to his talents, while his college choice could have been better suited to his abilities and ambitions.
As it stands, Michael received his first CAO choice, Spanish and Business at DIT, but what coaching has taught him is that this is not an ending itself. And, further, that it's possible to achieve what he really wants and not just what is expected.
Greg Dalton - who coached Michael and is a life and career coach - knows exactly what it's like to live according to conventional expectations. "I was in sales and marketing 20 years," he explains. "I didn't really enjoy it, I went from job to job, never staying more than a few years and I stayed because I thought it was my industry.
"Then, after September 11, the company I was working for, a subsidiary for an airline, began rationalising and making cutbacks and as sales and marketing manager, I was one of them. I had got to the point where I realised I wasn't enjoying it, though, so instead of getting into the same situation all over again, I started looking at other options."
Greg's first step was to visit a career consultant, who told him what his gut knew already. He should never have been in marketing in the first place. The career consultant,with knowledge of Greg's character, interests and abilities, suggested several options. A career in counselling, which did not interest Greg, training, which appealed a bit more, or career management, which immediately sounded right.
"I realised I had always been the person people had come to at work with problems and issues. I was a sounding board, someone people felt comfortable with, a source of advice." From there, he took a diploma in coaching, began taking clients and this year, and then developed my programme.
Further, Greg devised a series of tasks and questionnaires - the Talent Discovery and Development programme - for clients aged between 15 and 25 years of age.
It is specifically designed to help young people make choices regarding their second- and third-level education and future careers.
"It's about putting a round peg in a round hole," says Greg. "About 70 per cent of people are unhappy in their work," he goes on. Lisa Martin, 21, has taken some career coaching from Greg Dalton. A Tipperary-born student of Sociology and Social Policy, she finished her finals this summer and wondered what came next.
She explains the process - the initial, long, guided conversation with Greg. The series of questionnaires that establish personality, behavioural traits, ability to interact and ambitions.
"It was amazing," she says, "that even from that first session, someone could know that much about me. After the first interview, Greg gave me a 26-page printout and reading it was such a shock to the system. I thought it was 95 per cent accurate, but my mother and friends thought it was 100 per cent and it was great in the way it wasn't just about strengths but also gave guidance in what I need to work on and develop."
Lisa emerged from the programme defined as a "communicator" and with Greg's help is now looking into PR and a means of incorporating her qualifications into a path suited to her personality.
Both Michael and Lisa talk enthusiastically about Dalton's attention to them as individuals and it becomes clear that this is not something they have enjoyed in the education system.
Of course, schools have hundreds of students but Dalton's programme highlights how many feel they simply follow like sheep.
"A year ago I was definitely unsure of what direction I was going," says Michael. "I filled in the CAO form on the last day for changing your mind and I now feel like last year was a year lost. I wish I'd met Greg a year ago, for some sense of direction. I feel now I know more who I am and not just what career or course I should do."
"School kids think this is fantastic," says Greg Dalton. "And career guidance teachers think it's amazing, totally complementary to what they're doing. The programme delivers to them a student who knows who they are and what they want to do and then, the career guidance teacher can show them what schools and jobs are open to them."
An important part of Greg's programme is putting young people into their chosen field for a while, allowing them a taste of the reality. He believes strongly that all steps of the programme could help transform the education system and says there is already influential interest in the process.
For his own part, Greg Dalton does not look back on his 20 years in marketing as wasted time. That would be a real waste of time, he laughs. Instead, he focuses on the insight it has given him on how easy it is to take the wrong turn and it adds extra satisfaction to the results he's seeing by getting in early to steer kids in the right direction.
And the young people themselves seem to feel, the earlier the better.
Greg Dalton can be contacted on 087 462 6333 for information on their offices around the country. Also, you can log on to www.gregdalton.ie
My recent interview with Carol Dooley of Sunshine 106.8 where we discuss the challenges of working from home during the COVID-19 restrictions - click on the Carol's image to listen to the 10 minute Podcast.