Nicole Soames is CEO of Diadem Performance, a leading commercial skills training and coaching company, and best-selling author of The Influence Book, The Negotiation Book, The Coaching Book and The Presenting Book.
She has recently launched www.diademqualified.com offering ILM Level 5 Mentoring & Coaching Qualifications. For more information about Nicole, visit www.diademperformance.com, connect with her on LinkedIn @nicolesoamesatdiadem or follow her on Twitter @NicoleSAuthor.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I’m a highly qualified coach and EQ practitioner with extensive commercial experience gained from twelve years leveraging large sales teams for Unilever and United Biscuits, followed by seventeen years developing and delivering training programmes across the globe. In 2009 I founded Diadem Performance – a leading commercial skills training and coaching company. We help people become commercial athletes in negotiation, selling, marketing, presenting, leadership and management. My mission in life is to set people up for the success by helping them develop their commercial skills so they can unlock their confidence and achieve the extraordinary.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
I definitely didn’t have a grand career plan. I started out with a chemistry degree because I wanted to be part of the women in science movement but quickly discovered that I needed to be with people rather than in a lab. At the selection board for Unilever, I was encouraged to choose the field that most appealed to me and I loved the idea of sales. Selling was something I was naturally good at. As I became more senior, I found myself spending more and more of my time helping my team develop their selling and negotiation skills and that was when I had my eureka moment -– I discovered I loved helping people have more confident commercial conversations. In 2004 I decided to change track. I left my sales role at United Biscuits, qualified as a coach and started running training workshops as a freelancer. Then in 2009, I decide to take the plunge and put a stamp on how I felt training and coaching should be done by starting my own company – Diadem Performance.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
I think there are always challenges when you build a business. Setting up a training and coaching company at the beginning of a world-wide recession was tough. Even though I believe people are a company’s most important asset, it was difficult convincing employers to invest in their people when budgets are constrained. If there’s one thing the past 12 years have taught me, it’s that you should never rest on your laurels – building a brand takes time, energy and perseverance.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
It was always on my bucket list to write a book so I could reach a wider audience. In 2017, I put pen to paper and wrote ‘The Negotiation Book.’ As you can imagine this took some juggling – I was managing a team of 18 people, delivering a portfolio of programmes to 85 clients in 15 countries as well as being a mum to two teenage daughters. I was delighted when it was shortlisted for the CMI Business Book of the Year. Since then, I have written three more books ‘The Influence Book’, ‘The Presenting Book’ and ‘The Coaching Book” – all driven by my passion to set people up for success.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
I think it’s self- belief; having the confidence and ability to back yourself. In business, people buy people. The secret to success is knowing what you are good at and doing this relentlessly and continuously!
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I coach and mentor people on a daily basis. Whatever your role or function, I believe coaching and mentoring is key to helping people fast-track their careers. With this in mind, I’ve recently launched www.DiademQualified.com offering ILM Level 5 Coaching and Mentoring Qualifications for managers wanting to get the most out of their team or individuals wishing to start a role as a freelance coach or mentor.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?
It would be to help women believe in themselves more. I often quote Margaret Dowd who said, “The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.” In my experience, women need to dial up their EQ and be more ambitious in their ask so they can negotiate their true worth.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Life is short, so if you want to be happy, spend your work life doing what you are good at and what you enjoy. Above all, know yourself and have the confidence to be yourself. Don’t be tempted to fake it until you make it. By presenting the real you, you are more likely to build trust and influence those around you.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
The older I get, the more I realise that my career is about the journey rather than the destination. This doesn’t mean I want to stay in my comfort zone – I always want to challenge myself to be the best that I can be. I’m incredibly lucky to love what I do – so my long-term goal is to stay happy and fulfilled both at work and in my home life.
With research showing that 7 out of 10 working women think their career progression has slowed down because of COVID-19, there’s never been a better time to invest in a Coaching & Mentoring qualification with www.diademqualified.com to fast-track your career and stand out from the competition.
WeAreTheCity has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Cherie Blair, Paula Radcliffe MBE, Caprice Bourret, Anna Williamson and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here.