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My SDF Story with Jane Booth

Exercise class

Where do you work and what is your role?

I work at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in the Innovation Department. I’m Head of Guildhall Ignite which is a professional development consultancy delivering training in presentation skills, accredited coaching training and organisational development initiatives. My role is split between internal advocacy and support for staff development initiatives, and our external offer. We work across different sectors bringing the performing arts dimension into the work to keep things engaging, interactive and creative.

When did you join the SDF?

I’ve been a member for a couple of years now. I was really pleased to discover this expert forum discussing and sharing knowledge in support of the staff bodies of our institutions.  There is such a wide range of expertise, every conversation I have had with colleagues here has been insightful and useful. I really enjoy the meet ups and it gives me such an energy boost to connect in this way – I only wish there were more time!

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m a former musician having spent around 30 years touring the world with various orchestras. I’m now delivering coaching-inspired leadership training to orchestras in the UK and beyond and loving the opportunity to bring these two worlds together.

What does a typical day look like?

I divide my time between leading the Guildhall Ignite business, delivering training, coaching and research. When I’m based in London I really enjoy going into the office to connect with colleagues in our team and across the wider institution. There’s always so much happening – performances, rehearsals and people to catch up with. I keep to my regular check ins with colleagues and always take some time to cross paths with others in the building too. Some of the most productive conversations happen in the corridors!

Tell us about an event that altered the course of your life/and career

Our journey with coaching began back in 2012 and that was the moment when my professional life started to shift from being a performer to becoming a full-time coaching practitioner. In high pressure environments such as we experience in the performing arts, there isn’t always time built in to schedules to take care of the human aspects of our work – all our focus is on the performance. Learning to coach has helped me and my colleagues to see the value and importance of human connection and to advocate for a shift in the way many of our ensemble-based activities are planned. I certainly approach things very differently now and see huge potential for the future.

The person who has influenced you the most is

My Dad – I was very fortunate to have him in my life for so long. He taught me to aim to be tolerant (I’m still work in progress), to respect everyone and to be generous whenever I can. He was as honest as the day is long.

Work life balance – what leisure activity you enjoy the most?

I love my Yoga classes – they keep my body and my soul together. I attend regular classes and there’s a collective commitment there which I really appreciate. My teacher is called Jane. I arrive and say ‘Hello Jane’, and she says, ‘Hello Jane’ back – we laugh.

What would your super-power be? 

Someone in my team said recently, ‘at last, I have a boss who tells me what they really think’ – make of that what you will!

What’s your favourite food?

Oh that’s such a hard question! As soon as I think about that I’m inundated with pictures of my favourite meals. I’ve grown very fond of a Sunday roast, it rounds the week off in a cozy and reassuring way. On other days, I think a cheese soufflé would really hit the spot for me.  

What thing would improve the quality of your life?

Learning how to say no – no matter how many jobs I let go of, there are always more coming around the corner that are enticing.

What’s coming next for you?

I’m preparing to work with the next group of orchestras with a programme of leadership and culture change training. In this project, we’re taking a moment to share our research with them and I’m excited to find out how they respond.