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Beyond Borders: A Journey of Reinvention and Resilience

Embark on a journey through the extraordinary life of Audrey Daumain, a visionary entrepreneur whose path defies geographical boundaries and conventional career trajectories. Born in France and raised under the azure skies of its southern coasts, Audrey  embodies the spirit of curiosity and ambition, propelling her career across continents in pursuit of knowledge and purpose.

What motivated you to leave the corporate world and start your own Business Change Consultancy and Executive Coaching practice? How did your life impact your decision to pursue entrepreneurship?

I landed my first banking job in 2000 in London – working in Internal Communications for Morgan Stanley in the heart of Canary Wharf. From then on, I always seem to have been at the right place at the right time: listening to people’s needs, seizing opportunities to solve raised issues. I am curious, I learn quickly and have always had a very strong empathetic approach to life-both at work and in my private life. Volunteering in schools, coaching people going through transitions (work related or private), being a strong advocate for better communication and often ending up mediating without even realizing that’s what I was doing back then. 

Twenty years later, I was an Executive Director for Edmond de Rothschild in Geneva and had the immense chance to be equally challenged and hugely supported by my boss.  I was keen to launch an inhouse Change Management training and coaching curriculum as our enterprise was going through tremendous transformations and my manager supported me throughout.

In January 2020, something truly unthinkable happened and I lost my darling mum in a ultra-violent car crash as she was driving both of us back from a mum and daughter’s lunch. 

Anyone who has experienced anything of the sort knows that we are never the same afterwards. For me it was there and then, when I realized that I was alive when all the odds were against me, that I decided to do something wonderful, something grand, something impactful in the world. My life was to be lived to the full and I made that promise to both my mum and myself to work hard and make it happen. I wasn’t quite sure of the shape it would take, but I knew I had to build it myself.

How has your diverse background, having lived in three different countries, influenced your approach to business and coaching?

It has hugely influenced me.  I left home when I was 20 for a 2-week holiday in London and never went home! I am impulsive and have learnt quickly to listen to my heart.  Often my close English friends tell me that I am the most “Brit non English person” they know, it makes me smile and it’s true. I have learnt to understand how culture impacts people’s behaviors, how their history builds their beliefs and how we can adapt to make things work whilst respecting our differences and honoring our own faiths and principles.  

Can you share a specific example of a successful transformation project you managed in your corporate career?

Of course, there are so many. I can mention 2 

IT Transformation: one was the implementation of a new HRIS which implied a large number of people and process reviews (well they are rarely documented so it was drafting and reviewing). It was interesting because the mandated consulting firm was entirely focused on the target processes to be embedded in the tool, and I was consistently bringing the teams back to focus on the people – HR and IT teams, some of the new roles that had to be put in place and the impacts of the automations involved, then focus on the employee themselves who will have to shift some of their own ways of working ( for their appraisal and performance management for ex).

Organizational and Culture transformation: further to a very rapid growth both in terms of business and people, I was recently mandated to review the organization and strengthen their operating model. I love these projects, they are so profoundly human – understanding where people sit in the organization, their roles, their areas of influence, their relationships to their teams, and dependencies to the other departments of the company and look at how we shift things to ensure the strategic goals are met whilst supporting individual and collective engagement.

What led you to specialize in large scale program and change management within the finance industry?

That’s simple – I have held many different roles including communication, recruiting, sales management and client facing roles, and the more I was gaining experience the more I realized that nothing works without people.

The best strategies, the best tools, the best governances do not work without people. So I decided to really shift my interests, learn and pursue that path. 

What inspired you to develop your executive performance coaching program based on New Code Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Non-Violent Communication?

As I said I am curious and an avid learner. I read about NVC and NLP – then certified Prosci and NLP New Code whilst I was still with EDR. When I decided to go solo, my first client was US based and they introduced me to the Map of Meaning. I took the training and it was another revelation for me.  I decided to combine these extraordinary tools and build my own executive performance coaching methodology, anchored in intentionality, profound humanity, meaningful action planning, self-empathy and resilience.

In what ways do you believe your corporate experience and strong network have contributed to the success of your coaching and consultancy business?

How else could I support people in their journeys if I hadn’t been where they are today? How could I feel and understand their predicaments and challenges? 

I can’t advertise that I am going to help people scale their business and make them millionaires – I haven’t reached that level (yet!!! ☺) but I am successfully supporting them in building relevant and impactful communication strategies, strong performing teams and promoting their values amongst engaged people. That I know how I to do and team coaching is by far my passion. 

As for my network – it includes family and friends – it has been and still is paramount to my success. They have relentlessly believed in me, supported me, lifted me up when I needed it the most. People need people. WE need to elevate each other, it’s so precious.

Can you describe how you help clients reshape their thinking, culture, and align their actions with their inner intentions?

I strongly believe that we need to learn how to deal with emotions and how to identify our real intentions. We spend our lives doing and running around losing track of why we do things and most importantly without really thinking about the impacts of what we do.  I help individuals and team reconnect with their profound intentions. So take this very simple real life example: a boss tells me “This guy keeps turning up late, he is really good at his job, been here 3 years, and it’s not easy but I need to get him to come on time” so I asked “ what’s your intention in asking him this?” he goes, “ well everybody should be on time” 

“What is your intention in telling him that?” 

“That he needs to follow the rules” 

“What will you gain when he does follow the rules?” “

“I suppose I would like to understand why he is late, if there’s something we can do. And you’re right, it’s not so much the rules, it’s the peace with the others you know, I wouldn’t want them to feel that he has special treatment for example”

There you have it – wont it be easier to talk to him with that intentionality rather than go “ You need to follow the rules like everyone else”. 

How do you incorporate principles of Non-Violent Communication and the Map of Meaning into your coaching practice?

The 2 are so complementary. On one side, with the wonderful NVC we learn that guilt and fear are some of our worse enemies in the workplace – making us truly believe that we are being considerate and caring when really we are building up frustrations and misunderstandings. On the other the Map of Meaning places inspiration at the core of our daily lives and invites us to reflect  (amongst many other tensions) how we balance our Doing and our Being. A truly uplifting combination of tools to work with. 

Could you share a memorable client success story where you helped improve serenity and resilience during times of disruption and change?

I am currently coaching a really lovely guy. During our work, I brought him to realize that he was always jumping in to fix stuff. He couldn’t help but wanting to “help” and fix everything that seemed broken or inefficient. Anyone coming to him (he manages a large team) with an issue and without a pause he would jump in “ let’s do this, did you think of that, let me do this”. 

The company is growing, they are shifting some of their core operating systems and he is facing quite a fair bit of resistance and issues.  I promise you, it was so liberating for him to get this fix everything weight off his shoulders. Instead we are learning to meaningfully and kindly listen to what they are NOT telling him by asking the right questions.  What prompts the staff to complain, what really motivates or demotivates them. How to challenge them in a way that feels like mindful exchange and not an accusation. One of my favorite tool is the “ compared to what” question. “ I am too busy” “ I am too stressed” – to which he can now reply “ Seems that you are stressed, you feel too busy compared to what?” Another one:  “What’s the best way to do Y, X, Z? “ That’s an interesting question, what would you tell me if I asked that to you?”.  I even suggested he swaps seats when somebody comes in and asks that type of question. It diffuses tension and is very effective! Active listening can also promote autonomy in problem solving. What a powerful Leadership skill!

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