Women of Worth is a new feature we have launched to celebrate the incredible women of our community each month, selecting women who are indeed worthy of recognition, to provide both unique stories and journeys, and inspiration for the rest of our wonderful community.
Introducing this month's Woman of Worth, Adele Testa, over to you Adele...
My Why I want to serve people in need of emotional support in the working environment and personal life who feel undeserving and not belonging. As a young woman living abroad, I needed to overcome those feelings myself. Nowadays as a woman in my career, I still have these feelings from time to time, as if there is a better person with a better accent there to take my place. I learnt how to change these inner dynamics from within and bring forth my passion and strengths out there. I help my coaching clients do the same as we are walking on the same path towards greatness and our true self. I aim to make my brave clients see the beauty, resilience and passion from within and help them shape their life accordingly.
Self-discovery: from banking to healthcare management and coaching
I have studied Business and Economics, I thought I liked it - only later I have discovered that I was good at it and I misinterpreted the being-a-good-girl-feeling with passion.
We can be excellent at something but not feel connected to it wholeheartedly. I learned my lesson in the most unexpected way.
I had prepared my dissertation in hospital, supporting my dad during multiple chemotherapies.
I was already doing an internship with a bank, but I knew I didn’t feel alive. I thought that the problem was that I needed to aim higher.
Three months after my graduation in Financial Economics, I got a position and had the opportunity to move to China as a junior financial broker. The visa on my passport felt as if I was doing chemio too.
Some days I was feeling such a weight in my heart that I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was scared and needed to tough it up, but one day I got it.
In the corridors of the ward, I realised that an obvious path is not necessarily the right one.
I saw my dad fighting every day for a fragile life, so unpredictable and so beautiful at the same time. What if I had a few months left? Would I move to China? The answer was No.
My heart was clear, my mind aligned, and doubts disappeared as they were running away from my new determination.
I wanted to change healthcare and how people are supported when unwell; I wanted to impact as many families as possible. Families like mine.
Therefore, I went back to university and built competencies in healthcare management. I then worked in clinical trials funded by the European Commissions, living between Austria, Germany and Italy.
I have then moved to London and worked in mental health and emergency care.
The more time I spent on the wards and with the clinical staff, the more I had noticed something weird.
The people fighting for their health had a strong will, attachment to life, and big dreams for the future. Their health, the one thing given for guaranteed and now at the edge, gave them a different perspective about life and a strong desire to be present and to live the present, no matter the fears.
This was applied to the patients, their family and some clinical professionals.
On the other side, the people who had health, this intangible yet essential gift that all of us need and receive from day one for free, were distant from their dreams, disconnected from themselves and lost, with no purpose.
‘This does not make sense. How is it possible?!?’ I kept repeating myself for weeks.
I was confused by their behaviour but I had been precisely in the same position: I dared to look at my life and follow what I wanted, reset five years of my life, go back to study, quit a career in finance and a future in China just because of my dad. My dad and his fight made me fight too, for what is best for my life.
If my dad didn’t have the illness, I would have probably followed the linear path, stayed in a toxic relationship, got a job with a big monthly figure on the bank account and had a deep hole in my heart. I would follow what was expected of me and lose myself.
At that moment, two years ago, I decided that I wanted to make a difference in others’ lives, in those who are physically healthy but disconnected by themselves. Eventually, the desire to help others was stronger than my fear of a new career change.
I went back to studying and got my accredited qualification in coaching. The desire to become a coach was a natural consequence of giving a sense of my story, challenges, and grief. This time I have decided to expand what I was doing rather than starting from scratch.
My here and now in the NHS and in the coaching industry
I have integrated coaching into my work for the NHS.
I am an internal coach supporting female NHS colleagues to find their voice in a male-dominated environment.
As an Improvement coach, I coach multidisciplinary teams. I am committed to creating a bridge of dialogues between clinical professionals and non-clinical staff by reconnecting them to the ultimate purpose of serving the patient.
Professionals with different academic backgrounds and skills often feel distant from each other yet do not recognise that they have so much in common and can work together.
As a Quality Improvement Programme Manager, I have the honour to support 40 coaches and their allocated healthcare teams in organisational development. Learning how to line manager, and observing how I react, behave and interact with my team helps me grow daily.
My coaching practice for people living abroad
I have experienced Brexit as an ex-pat since I moved for love to London in 2016. Before that, I lived in different cities across Italy and Austria. I left my hometown on the seaside at the age of 18; I always knew that I needed to earn my place in the world and create my home. I embraced it.
From advancing my career in healthcare, opening my business in coaching, to buying my place, my life abroad was driven by a clear why: make my dad proud.
This driver is still there, burning inside me, particularly now that he is always with me with his spirit.
This is my story, though. I believe that we don’t need a life tragedy to get the courage in mastering our life.
However, I have realised that not all people living abroad had a clear direction nor intense grit. Some of them moved abroad to run away from unresolved issues back home.
I am committed to serving coaching clients who feel outsiders in a social reality that was chosen for them. Often, but not always, these clients are ex-pats.
I have created the I - AM - ME protocol.
In this coaching journey, clients move from understanding, owning and embracing their identity, shaping their intention, giving meaning to their story, to gaining new awareness about themselves.
With this refreshed mindset, I help them master their lives and eventually be elsewhere - e.g. a better place in their life.
Coaching during the pandemic
As a professional coach, I felt grateful to be in the position to help others emotionally during the pandemic. I ran multiple workshops for Italians across Europe when Italy was the first country hit by the pandemic.
I have dedicated each inch of energy to support people living abroad and launched the Shine Abroad podcast to give hope to as many people as possible.
In my NHS role, I have promoted the importance of cultural diversity at work as a tool to develop international, open-minded teams and make people with different skin colours, accents and appearances part of something bigger than their diversity.
We held Thinking Space sessions where clinicians and staff near the COVID work have a safe, non-judgemental space to share fears, concerns and doubts; a moment for reflection where they were processing the events together, as a group rather than in a solo.
The purpose of this initiative was to refuse the toxic positivity mindset, avoid desperation and give space to the soul to reconnect with heart and mind.
Any doctor, nurse, or staff looking after clients need to look after themselves first; only then can they give their clients their very best. Competences acquired through academic education
Accredited diploma in Transformational coaching - ICF accredited provider: Animas centre for coaching;
Qualification in Positive Intelligence;
Certified qualification in Improvement Coaching - the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) accredited provider: ELF NHS Foundation Trust.