Released On 22 June 2021
Meet the Expert: Interview with Sadia Salam
CP: Sadia, please tell us about your background and how you built your experience as an Executive Coach and Inclusion Facilitator?
SS: Hi, I'm Sadia. I'm an Executive Coach, Inclusion Facilitator and a Recovering Lawyer. I was born in Cardiff and originate from Bangladesh. I remember going to school in Wales and noticing for the first time how different I was to others. I felt that I needed to fit in, I needed to work harder. And I did! I became an overachiever, and perfectionist very early on! It worked for many years. I studied law, worked as a corporate lawyer for 10 years but suddenly, I felt stuck. I didn't want to be a partner. I received this beautiful call about a role in house to set up a legal team, and I grabbed it. I felt stuck again after having two children and for the first time saw a coach. It helped me so much and I loved it so much, I trained and qualified as an Executive Coach whilst I was Head of Legal and coached internally within the business. After 20 wonderful years as a lawyer, I set up my coaching and inclusion business, I felt I had achieved all that I wanted in my legal career and now I wanted to help others with their careers and through coaching, I felt I finally had the tools to do it.
As an inclusion facilitator, I use all my skills as a lawyer, coach and my own personal experiences to help organisations have courageous conversations about race, and help them attract, retain and promote diverse talent.
Feelings of not fitting in, of being a minority, an overachiever, a perfectionist have led me to where I am today, and I'm very grateful.
CP: What do you enjoy most about your work?
SS: I love spending one to one time, focusing on one amazing human being and helping them focus on themselves. Helping them think about their superpowers, spot and read the signposts that keep coming up in life. Like feeling stuck, feeling fear, feeling resistance, what does this all mean? They are all signposts. I get to help people to work out what that signpost means. I help them to be the leaders that they really want to be, and lead their way. I love helping individuals see the magic in themselves, and organization's to appreciate that magic and help that magic to grow and to retain it. I enjoy helping organisations have the conversations they struggle to have, as these are the conversations that are most impactful for inclusion. I love to train individuals and organisations on how to be more inclusive.
CP: How do you look after your own wellbeing?
SS: This is such a great question. Firstly, I actually put myself at the top of my to do list and I don't feel that's selfish anymore. My morning and evening routines are now crucial parts of my day and don’t take long! Every morning, I ask myself how full is my battery? how am I feeling and how do I want to feel today?. I now know what I need to refill my battery. For me sleep, food, water, time in nature is huge for me. As an introvert I need time alone, it’s tricky with two children but just having that 30 minutes on my own, even if it's in the garden or even if it's in the park is hugely replenishing. I journal for 15 minutes most mornings, having a brain dump of all my thoughts, it helps me keep my inner critic in check by getting the negative thoughts out of my head. Finally, I practice being much kinder to myself and now talk to myself in a way that I would talk to my best friend (most of the time!).
CP: What issues do you come across most regularly when speaking to clients?
SS: “I know I look good on paper, I just don't feel it”. They don't feel it, often because they've got that negative radio going on in their heads and they just can't seem to switch it off. It's always there, and sometimes that inner critic has become a killer critic. When you have a killer critic and a really demanding job it’s really hard to feel as good as you look on paper, it's really hard to actually feel happiness and feel fulfilled. Overachievers often go into automatic pilot, it's all about achieving it's all about getting stuff done, it's all about working hard and harder, because by doing that you achieve even more, it works, so why change?. Well, my clients often come to me because they want to continue achieving, but not in the way they've done so before. Not in the way that leaves them feeling exhausted and unfulfilled. We focus on new ways to have a happy and fulfilling career.
CP: If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wanted to reach the next level in their career, what would that be?
SS: Do the internal work as well as the external work. Nobody tells you to do the internal work, everybody talks about the external work, the work that everyone can see, the client work, the marketing, the networking, the selling. All very important. Doing the internal work means focusing on ourselves as human beings, focusing on our thoughts, mindset, the habits we are using and considering whether they still serve us. It helps us to decide if we need support from a mentor, coach, sponsor, friend. By focusing on ourselves, and doing the internal work, we are more likely to feel more energised, happy and fulfilled. A strong self will lead to the career they really want to have. It’s also a lot of fun.