Rachel Brushfield - The Talent Liberator

Name: Rachel Brushfield

CIPD membership: Affiliate

Current job title: The Talent Liberator

Current employer: Energise - The Talent Liberation Company

Location: Oxfordshire

Employment status: Self-employed for 20 Years

Previous role: Food marketing


What was your previous role?

Freelance brand planning for the first 4 years of my self-employed career. Before that employed strategist in design, communications and innovation consultancies, with my career starting in Food marketing 30 years’ ago.


Why did you decide to move into your current role/field?

The brand strategy work I was doing was beginning to feel repetitive and the novelty of doing similar work e.g. brand positioning’s in different markets was beginning to wane.

Since I was about 16, I had been interested in personal development, doing a lot of work on myself, coaching people without realising it was called ‘coaching’ and redesigning their CVs.

Once employed, I proactively got involved in human capital matters e.g. redesigning appraisal systems and doing marketing updates for factory workers so they knew what was going on and felt included.

Having done 100% coaching work for a few years, I then realised I was missing strategy and coming up with insights and ideas – this is a big part of who I am, the opposite of pure coaching. I can and do both. Therefore I reshaped the mix of my work to include marketing mentoring and talent management, and found I attracted people wanting to change career and build confidence, which is a hybrid of strategy and coaching.


What transferable skills did you identify would be useful in your new role?

Problem solving, analysis and synthesis, research, incisive questioning, listening, insight mining, branding, event management, writing, idea generation, lateral thinking, communication strategy, planning and making connections.


What did you focus on to sell yourself during the application process rather than experience?

How I could help individuals and companies, the benefits I brought them and my passion for career fulfilment, helping people to be self-aware and confident and liberating talent.


What went well during the transition?

I did my coaching training over 2 years, 4 days every month so I balanced learning with earning and practising as I went along. I started coaching pro bono then charging, gaining experience, confidence, testimonials and case studies. The mix gradually shifted from 100% brand consultancy work to 100% coaching.


What role did continuing professional development (CPD) play in your transition?

Huge. I have always done a lot of CPD, broad topics not narrow and invested in my own marketability throughout my career.

I took a 6-month CPD focused break having downshifted from London to Oxfordshire and self-funded researching talent management and employee engagement from my savings. After the credit crunch in 2007, I decided not to take the easy route and do associate outplacement work, but instead research, learn and write a new topic every week for 2.5 years, creating a bank of content to add value to my clients.


How has the CIPD and continuing professional development (CPD) supported you during and after your career transition?

Joining the CIPD as an Affiliate member is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my career. It has been invaluable – the research for my writing, the branch events in Oxfordshire, Thames Valley and London and the network I have made. I was on the committee for the Oxford branch for a year and have done events for 3 branches to support CIPD and build my network.


If you had your time again, would you do anything differently? Is yes, what would you do differently?

I would have got a crystal ball so I knew there was a credit crunch around the corner when I was planning a 6 month non-earning CPD break! A lot of positives came from the challenge – I am very resilient, resourceful and positive!

I would have phoned up my network more and kept in touch.


What are your top 5 tips for someone who is currently working in a marketing or strategy role and wants to move into a coaching/learning and development/talent management/employer branding role as you have?

  1. Research and learn as much as possible and block out time in your diary for quality thinking and reflection – invest in your career capital and long-term future.

  2. Write articles to embed your knowledge and use social media to create visibility of your thought leadership to attract opportunities.

  3. Do events to create a network and provide a focus to embed learning and build reputation.

  4. Know yourself inside out – self-awareness; values, motivations, limiting beliefs, needs, wants etc.

  5. Define your personal brand and build a future-proof portfolio career.
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