I have been working since 2000 as a business actor and trainer for leadership programmes, development centres, recruitment events and intercultural trainings.
Corporate acting and simulation is basically about making yourself small, yet playing a major role. In the business, we often call ourselves ‘re-actors’ – reacting to what’s in front of us in order to trigger awareness of the impact of one’s behaviour on others. So, in a training situation, I can simulate a real-life business situation or conflict while referencing any theory or psychology models introduced. During development centres or recruitment events, I will get into my role (I’m good at my prep!), yet my responses will depend on the behaviour I see in front of me.
One of my strong points is that I can assimilate high-level content into natural, realistic play; I have experience at C-suite level, too. I will then translate this experience into honest, constructive, yet sensitive feedback, and have been told time and time again that the feedback I give is perceptive and valuable.
I can both role play and facilitate: This is mainly how I work nowadays.
Communication models and tools
Corporate leaders are all too aware of the correlation between healthy financial results and healthy employees – balancing books and behaviour. Growing up in Catholic Ireland, whenever I posed a ‘difficult’ question from the perspective of a child trying to fathom a labyrinthine, adult world, the answer would often be, “That’s God’s way. It’s a mystery!”
Since working as a training actor and writer, I have tried to unlock that mystery, and, on my way, have become familiar with a range of multi-disciplinary models which dissect communication from the eye of the social psychologist, the sociologist, the linguist, the ethologist, or other -ists: Hersey-Blanchard’s Situational Leadership, Rose of Leary, Meyer’s Leadership Styles; intercultural models like Hofstede, Trompenaars, Intercultural Readiness Check competences, Lewis and TOPOI; Bolton and Bolton, DISC and Myers-Briggs personality types; RADPAC negotiating, McClelland’s Iceberg model, Learning Consortium Influencing model, Ofman’s Core Qualities, Transactional Analysis, de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats and various feedback models.
I also draw on that eye deep within me – gut instinct, that mystery.
On many programmes, I have acted as a coach, working on key development points with participants following calibration of feedback. During coaching sessions, I am willing to explore the out-of-the-comfort zone. I have been told by men and women alike that I’m good at creating a safe environment.
I have designed workshops on the following areas:
- Presentation coaching: With my background in journalism, writing and acting, I can help you identify a clear message, turn your presentation or speech into a performance-based piece of storytelling, and ensure that you build awareness of timing and non-verbal communication in its delivery while staying true to yourself.
- Intercultural communication and competence: Many approaches to intercultural communication focus on the skills needed to navigate through cultural differences; some, moving on in our ever more globalised and virtual world, may have redefined the conceptualisation of culture beyond one’s passport. I don’t throw the baby out with the bath water (so I draw from the spectrum of theories), but my approach is that you cannot separate one’s culture from core personality, and that only by understanding one’s true self alongside the belief and values system that shapes how and what you think can you really understand what’s going on when you cross the border.
- Preparing master’s students for role play assessments in the job applications process: More and more companies use assessments to choose successful candidates. I have worked on a range of recruitment programmes and am aware of typical pitfalls, and what employers are looking for.
- In rhythm with your values: Somewhere along the way on your career path, you’re bound to have ‘that big conflict’, the one that stops you in your tracks, maybe even causes burnout or illness. In 2018, I joined forces with colleague actor-trainer and former HR manager Justin Pratt to develop a workshop on the link between illness and company conflicts. Through storytelling and some specific tools, we help individuals identify and align with the values important to them behind the symptoms and the hurt, and prompt them to give a positive twist to their insights.
Direct and end clients have included Philips, SHV Energy, NXP, Core Laboratories, ASML, AkzoNobel, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein (PVH), CRH, TNT, KLM, Exact Software, ABN Amro, ING, KPN, Sara Lee, Maersk Oil, Biogen Idec, TomTom, booking.com, BeteoR Consultancy, KIT Intercultural Professionals, government ministries, healthcare bodies and the Dutch Police Academy.