About Jim Pirrie

About Jim Pirrie BSc Eng (Hons), MBA

Jim has been coaching since 2004 and has been a member of the International Coach Federation since that time.

He is an NLP Master Practitioner and Certified NLP Coach, and has been a member of the International Coach Federation since 2004.

Also in 2004, he became a Certified NLP Trainer, studying at the NLP University in Santa Cruz, California with Robert Dilts, Judith DeLozier and Suzie Smith.

Since starting his own training and coaching consultancy in 2001, Jim has worked with organisations of all sizes: Magic Circle law firms and Big Four accounting firms in the City of London; a global civil engineering firm; global consulting firms; niche consultancies; local professional services firms; and individuals.

His professional background ranges from research and development and project management in aerospace and defence electro-optics to marketing, product development and programme management in the telecoms sector.

He started his career in airframe dynamics research at the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough and has worked in blue-chip technology companies including Thorn-EMI Electro-Optics (now Thales), Cable and Wireless (now Vodafone) and Virgin Cable Media (now Virgin Media).

Jim holds an MBA from Cranfield School of Management, one of the UK's leading business schools, and has lectured part-time in Marketing and International Trade and Finance at the University of Portsmouth.

— Jim, why did you become a coach?

Well, as you know I had a pretty varied career for about twenty years in blue-chip aerospace and tech companies before I realised I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. I noticed was finding the enviroment stressful and the work unrewarding. And I noticed the same in the people around me. More and more I was seeing people being unappreciated, unsupported, and even heading for burnout. Not everywhere, I hasten to say: many of the places I worked were wonderful, supportive and creative teams. Nevertheless, I was feeling I needed to move on to something different.

So when the chance came, in 2001, to leave that world with a package, I took it.

At the time I was working with Peter King for my own personal development, and he encouraged me in the direction of coaching.

As a consequence, I studied NLP and coaching, to become an NLP Master Practitioner and Certified NLP Coach in 2004, and since then I've been a member of the International Coaching Federation, the world's leading body for professional coaches.

— NLP? What's that?

Simple question without a simple answer!

One definition of NLP is that it's the study of the structure of subjective experience. In other words, NLP helps us to understand how our mind works as we experience the world through our senses.

I suppose that could be condensed into saying that NLP is the study of 'why we do what we do, and how to do it better'.

One of the guiding principles of NLP is that 'the map is not the territory'. That's to say that what we respond to is our perception of reality and not reality itself. And enshrined in NLP are a powerful set of ideas, strategies and tools that can help us to better understand how we, personally, filter reality, and help us see more clearly how we might have distorted our perception to the point where our behaviour becomes unresourceful, or even positively unhelpful.

So, as a basis for coaching, NLP gives a structured approach to understanding why a person might be experiencing the world in a particular way, why they might choose to respond as they do, and what possible different choices might be available to them.

As someone with both a strong interest in 'why people do what they do', as well as a highly analytical mind, I find the tools of NLP an extremely helpful resource in my coaching work. They can, in my experience, be the foundation of deep transformational change.

Another reason I find NLP so helpful is that it is based on the study of success, of what demonstrably works in practice in the real world. So much psychology is based in the study of dysfunction, which is a curious place to look if you want to know how to do things better! NLP has its roots in studying the strategies of some of the most successful people in their fields, and creating methods by which we can adopt those strategies in our own lives.

— That brings us nicely to Coaching. Can you tell me more? I'm especially interested to understand from a client's perspective.

I think of coaching as 'helping the client to get out of their own way'.

In other words, coaching is non-directive. My job as coach is to inquire, to ask the sort of questions that get the client thinking about their own experience of themselves and the world, with a view to realising that there might be more resourceful ways of perceiving, decision making and behaving, and to see how these alternative behavioural strategies might serve the client in creating a more wholesome, fulfilling and successful life for themselves. Which begs the question 'what do we mean by success', of course!

But an important part of my work is to make myself redundant. I think it's important to share the tools and strategies that will help clients make better quality decisions for a lifetime, without becoming dependent on me, or anyone else. The job of a coach is to help the client create and sustain the changes they want in their life or career. It is most definitely NOT the job of a coach to be some sort of scaffolding to hold the client up.

There are, of course, times when a client does need strong support, but it's always the job of the coach to help the client build their own inner confidence, strength and resilience, not to alleviate the need for it.

— But you also have some serious corporate experience and an MBA in your pocket. Does that help?

Well, much of my work is with early and mid-career business professionals, rising stars if you like. So having my extensive practical and academic background means I'm very familiar with many of the real-world pressures and challenges and opportunities that come along in the life of a business professional. On the one hand that helps me to understand the client's experience, and helps me to ask better quality questions.

And on the other hand it does mean that, from time to time, I am able to step in to a role that is more mentoring than coaching. There have been occasions, for example, where a client has been up against it to deliver on a high-pressure timescale and the best thing to do in-the-moment is to become 'part of the team', and make practical suggestions to help just get it done. But an important facet of that is to review it afterwards from a coaching perspective and make sure the learning has been effectively integrated so the client is more confident, more resourceful and more effective next time round.

— And if I want to work with you as my coach, how does that work?

Coaching engagements typically work on the basis of a three or six month agreement, working together on whatever cadence works for the client, most often for an hour every other week.

That's a big commitment on both parts, so it's really important for both client and coach to feel comfortable with each other, and to feel they will be able to establish and build a strong, secure and trusting working relationship right from the word go.

To that end the usual process is to have a short fifteen-minute call to establish the initial connection, and then to schedule a free, no-obligation full-length coaching session which can last anything up to an hour and a half. That's long enough for both parties to agree that they both want to continue the conversation.

That's long enough to genuinely explore one or more issues that have brought the client to coaching, and it's also long enough to understand the quality of rapport between coach and client.

At the end of that first coaching session, we jointly make the decision whether to continue the conversation.

— And what's the best way to initiate that process?

The best thing to do will be to drop me an email at jim@jimpirrie.com and we can take it from there.

— Jim, thank you. That's been very informative

You're very welcome. It has been a pleasure talking to you.

His interest in storytelling and performance has led him to study storytelling and voice work at the International School of Storytelling, theatrical impro with Keith Johnstone in Canada, and to take a foundation course in drama and performance at one of London's leading drama schools.

When it comes to his own Continuous Professional Development, Jim believes it is extremely important for a coach to 'walk the talk' - to work on their own mental health, wellbeing and personal development as well as business and professional skills. To that end, he has worked with a number of coaches, counsellors and therapists: most recently with the extraordinary Juliet Grayson, a practitioner and trainer in Pesso Boyden System Psychomotor, a deeply effective mind-body process for developing personal resilience and insight, as well as addressing personal issues and trauma.

He brings this extensive business, personal development and performance background to his work as a professional development coach, working with business professionals to consolidate and accelerate their professional careers.

Jim has also built a reputation for creative and highly interactive training experiences and has delivered training courses across the globe for some of the most prestigious professional services firms in the world.

The philosophy behind Jim's work is the idea of 'the T-shaped professional' - the understanding that a business professional must have substantial depth of knowledge and experience in their specialist field, and that this depth must be complemented by a strong breadth of competence in the core personal and interpersonal skills essential to thrive in a professional business environment.

To find out more, please feel free to get in touch: