Interview Spotlight With Julia Ngapo

Julia is an experienced Business and Executive Coach with a focus on emotional intelligence. She supports business leaders to grow their presence, and to turn their “big picture” into projects and actions through improved self-awareness, better communication, and improved motivation.

She is also an Associate of DISCSimple, using DISC tools to support organisations to create and maintain a more positive and productive workplace culture.

Prior to starting her coaching business, Julia spent 25-odd years in marketing, 10 of which at Director level.

Julia is proud to have been awarded Fellowship of the Institute of Leaders (formerly ILM) and is part of the IoL’s mentoring programme, offering free mentoring to those starting or growing their business. She is also a mentor on the Government’s Help to Grow scheme.


Thank you for interviewing with us today, can you introduce yourself to us?

My name is Julia, and I am a wife and mother of two grown up children. I’m an emotional intelligence coach, supporting C-Suite individuals to improve their self-awareness and to become mentally, physically, and emotionally fitter, enabling them to accomplish more in less time and to expend less energy in doing so!

My focus is very much on the individual and viewing their business challenges through the lens of their self-perception, as well as their view of the world around them – fascinating stuff.

I am qualified at level 7 in senior coaching and mentoring (equivalent to a masters degree), am an NLP Master Practitioner, and am very proud to have been awarded Fellowship of the Institute of Leadership (formerly the Institute of Leadership and Management)

I am also a Reiki Master, and this allows me to be truly intuitive in my approach to clients.

Can you take us through your journey to where you are now?

I originally studied law and worked in private practice for several years. During this time, I was very badly bullied and mentally and physically abused by my then boss. I lost all confidence in myself, my vocation and eventually left my job with no new role to step into.

Having both parents own and run their own successful business, it seemed the natural thing to do – (How naïve I was!) and at the ripe old age of 23, I went into self-employment, working as a freelance legal information professional – managing and maintaining solicitors’ legal libraries, ensuring they had the latest versions of legal books (this was pre-internet!) and managing their library budgets. I split my time between Exeter, Bristol, and Westminster.

My two children came along, and I was a stay at home mum until they both went to school. My daughter had some additional needs and I wanted to ensure that I was able to be there for them both as much as possible.

At this time, I had also become a single parent when my marriage broke up. I was left with nothing – no financial support, and very much on my own with my children.

Although hard, I now look back on those years as some of the best of my life. I was able to build strong relationships with my children, and we three definitely triumphed over adversity!

When my children went to school, I again felt at a “crossroads”; not sure of my future path. As luck would have it, I was approached by a company affiliated with legal publishing, who were looking to establish a formal marketing department, and to build up their bottom line in preparation for the sale of the company. Would I be up for the challenge? Of course, I jumped at what was expected to be a six-month gig.

Ten years later, I was still there, having worked my way up to marketing director with direct responsibility for two UK and one office in SE Asia, and grown the department to four full-time members of staff. I had also increased turnover from the sales of new books by 20% year on year.

Eventually, the company was sold, and having married my wonderful kiwi husband, we decided to emigrate to New Zealand.

We sold up in the UK and bought a house and a business in Auckland. My husband is a chef, and so we bought an old, run down café, situated in a beautiful fruit orchard in West Auckland. Whilst my husband focused on menu design and food preparation, I ran the “back end” of the business. During our ownership, we transformed the business into an award-winning destination.

Unfortunately, by father became sick, and we made the difficult decision to return to the UK., whereupon I set up a marketing consultancy, specialising in social media, and grew that business to include nine freelancers working with me.

I realised that the part of that business that I most enjoyed was the strategising and training work that I did with clients and decided to branch out into business coaching.

I went away, retrained, and obtained my Level 7 ILM qualification, and established Julia Ngapo Business Coaching. I ran the two businesses in tandem until the coaching side took off, and I was able to sell the marketing agency, retaining marketing consultancy within the coaching business.

And that brings us up to the present day. Definitely a journey, but one that allows me to really understand and support my clients in their own business journeys.

Since starting, have you made any changes to your business model?

Definitely. I started focusing on business coaching for small businesses. However, during my training, I realised that I loved the psychodynamic side of coaching – emotions, mindset and the wonder that is the human brain, so decided to focus and niche in emotional intelligence coaching. This involved rediscovering my ideal clients and realigning with them. My marketing experience has definitely helped me with this pivot!

Have you ever had a mentor? If so, how has this benefitted you either personally or professionally?

Yes! I’ve had several. I think all coaches realise the benefit of having a coach/mentor. We all of us, as business owners, get so absorbed by our own business that we don’t “see the wood for the trees” and need that honest, exterior perspective. It’s impossible to coach yourself – believe me, I’ve tried!

What outlets do use for marketing?

I use social media, mainly Linkedin, as this is where my target audience hang out. I also use face to face and online networking. Living in a fairly rural area, the rise of virtual networking, post-covid, has been a boon.
I’m fortunate in that a lot of my clients come from word of mouth referrals, although I don’t take this for granted and definitely put in the footwork on my own business development.

This year, I have also been undertaking a lot of public speaking – so far, two business exhibitions at ExCeL and one at Olympia. These have definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone!

What or Who has inspired you most recently?
I would have to say, my inspiration has come on a personal level. My best friend has recently lost her sight and seeing her navigate the strange new world that she finds herself in, whilst maintaining her good humour and care for others is truly inspirational and very humbling.

What is the best piece of business advice you have received to date?

It’s actually a tenet of NLP, and that is “There is no failure, only feedback”. I’ve found that quite liberating in my time. As long as we learn from any experience, it cannot be wholly negative.

How do you create an evenly balanced work and personal life?

Through years of trying and failing! Seriously, by establishing strong boundaries and respecting my body when it tells me it needs a break. I have set work ours and rarely deviate from those. I know that rest is an important part of my work and I need it to be of my best for my clients.

Name a seminal point in your career so far?

I think gaining my coaching qualification was so important to me. I was working full time and running two businesses and studying at the same time. I didn’t think I could get through the huge amount of writing that is involved in a level 7 qualification, and yet I received special mention from the ILM independent marker regarding the quality of my submission. A proud moment, but also affirmation for me that coaching was where I was supposed to be.

What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?

Hearing from clients of the positive effect that coaching has had on them. The “untying” of the knots that are binding them to past attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours. I love my job!

Are there any leading entrepreneurs or SME leaders that you admire and if so, why?

I admired Anita Roddick, as a leader who was prepared to put her ethics at the forefront of everything she did, and at a time when it wasn’t so “trendy” to be environmentally aware.

How do you define your own success?

Happiness. Quite simply. Balance, and belief in what I do and the change that I am here to make.

Finally, what can we expect from you next?

A podcast aimed at building confidence and resilience in women business owners. We will be exploring what it takes to be resilient, confident and to have a successful mindset.

I will also be publishing a book around the same subject matter – Watch this space!

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