Updated: Aug 25, 2019
I have been getting to know Colleen Qvist over the last year. We met when I first started my journey in coaching and over the past year I have come to know her as someone who epitomises the word "abundant". So when Colleen came to my vision board workshop at the beginning of the year, and said that her word for the year was ABUNDANCE, it was no surprise at all.
In reading her answers and observing her at many events I have learned so much about the philosophy of 'serving over selling". Colleen is a woman who generously gives her time and expertise and serves so many communities - the coaching community, the education community, the youth community and the health community to name a few - that it sometimes surprises me that she has any time for herself.
What did you want to be when you were 5 years old?
I wanted to be a teacher and then I changed my mind to a doctor.
What career are you in now?
I am a Business Coach, Life Coach, Facilitator and Speaker. I work specifically in the field of Self-Leadership and Growth. My clients include healthcare professionals like doctors, sales reps and managers.
What motivated you to choose the career that you’re in?
I applied for medical school but I didn’t get in so I went and did a BSc at Wits with the idea of transferring to medicine. That didn’t happen and so I did BScHons in Human Genetics with the idea of doing Masters in Genetic Counselling.
In my Honours year, Genetic Counselling stopped being offered as a course. I realised that I needed to be around people and that research, especially involving animals, although necessary was not my calling.
Off I went into sales. It was scary to step out of the academic world, but for me it would have been scarier to stay. I had no intention of spending my days chatting to test tubes.
"I had no intention of spending my days chatting to test tubes".
In the world of Medical Device Sales I started in my first job as a sales rep of capital items and laboratory consumables (eg blood gas machines that monitors the sodium, potassium, or hydrogen ions in your blood or the chemistry analyser that processes your blood tests).
In my second job, I joined a company that distributed for a global company that had consumables for ten different medical disciplines. I got to go to two to three congresses overseas every year in different disciplines and spent a lot of time in theatre - first as a product specialist, product manager, clinical specialist and eventually with my sales people as a Divisional Manager.
So I never became a doctor but my career allowed to be part of different medical teams and so not only specialised in one discipline. Of course, I also got people - so many of them.
I left the medical device industry in September 2012 to focus on growing people. The more you grow people, the more they can accomplish. I guess I have always been involved in people's growth and development, but I had different titles at different times in my career which never directly suggested that that was what I was doing.
"My desire to be a teacher and doctor had a different way of manifesting".
So often we expect our life paths to look a certain way, but they may look totally different, but they are never a mistake.
What steps did you / are you taking to realise your dreams?
I have grown myself as a person and a Coach, become credentialed as a Senior Practitioner, serve as Gauteng Chair for COMENSA and totally believe in the power of coaching. I network a lot and speak about coaching with coaches and believe that growing coaches uplifts the whole profession. I serve on the Women in Healthcare Africa committee, am Deputy Chair for SANCOC Career Development and Education and part of Qualifications Management Board for W&RSETA. I also belong to BNI.
I am great at serving others and a friend of mine regularly asks me (reminds me to think about) what I did for myself and for my business, CQ Consulting, on that day.
Recently I joined an international mastermind of coaches and this has been instrumental in me reaching my dreams.
I am also changing my mindset and working on giving up "playing small" and shifting away from the mindset of being "self-employed" towards the mindset of owning and managing a company.
What kind of challenges have you encountered along the way?
I expected the medical industry to welcome me as a Coach, but to them, in the beginning, I was competition. This has now changed, but it forced me to go out and work with other industries.
It has been a transition to give up a corporate salary and start again as someone with no experience or reputation as a Coach.
So many people quickly forget the steps they had to climb to reach where they are. I have always promised to be different and to empower others on their journeys.
Name any 3 attributes that you think are important in your line of work?
Listening, non-judgement, empathy.
I hold space for my clients for them to move from where they are to where they want to go.
Have you ever failed in your career and if yes what did you learn from that experience?
There have been lots of things that did not work and I have had to learn to look at how I could grow from the experience as opposed to feeling sorry for myself that I had failed.
I have embraced the "0.8 prototype" – try something, get feedback, tweak it, try again.
Also, I realise that if I do not try, then I definitely fail. It is also important to embrace purpose and not fear. They are both drivers with very different experiences.
One of the biggest mistakes I made was not to have my own coach. Extremely silly when you think, I of all people know the value of having a coach. So now I have a coach and I also have a Supervisor which is required for professional coaches. Supervision supports me as a person and as a coach and upholds coaching as a profession.
What’s the most bizarre or funniest thing that's ever happened (to you) in your career?
Being asked on my first day in my first job if I drank and if so, to report to the bar at 4:30pm the next day.
What is the most rewarding part of your line of work?
I see people grow and expand and live their potential.
How would you advise someone who’s having a hard time achieving their goals?
Breathe. Work with a coach who will help you to work out your WHY and guide you to do the steps that you need to make to reach your goal. You can do this.
What did you have to sacrifice in order for your career to grow?
My corporate salary and the idea that I knew HOW my journey would work out.
I have had to embrace FLOW and a higher timeline and to know God does not call the qualified - He qualifies the called!
Any specific career advice you would like to share?
Don’t do it on your own. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your goals. People who have their own goals. People who are practical and know how to pour wine and dish out chocolate for those "less than YAY" days and then professional people like a Coach or Gym instructor, IT person, Accountant, PR, graphic designer and digital expert. I call this Circles of Influence.
Please be aware that we are often tempted to change where we are e.g. move country, leave corporate, give up the partner, resign the membership, BUT we forget that we take ourselves with. Patterns repeat. Please go inside and work on YOU and who YOU are before you do anything.
"Don't move, improve!"
How do you define success?
Success is to live and work my purpose, to build strong loving relationships and to be financially anxiety-free.
If you had only two words to describe the essence of who you want to be, what would those two words be?
Loving and Loved
16. Anything else you would like to add?
Learn the value of opening doors for others. Learn your own value and the difference you make in the world. When you claim your value, others will follow suit in seeing your value.