An economist by training, Maya Gudka holds a First Class degree in Economics from the University of Cambridge. She started her career in Goldman Sachs Research Sales, and then Economics Consulting at PwC. Lured over to KPMG to help start the Economics team there, she became a manager within the first 3 years of her career in a high growth team. She embarked on a journey of discovery of how to manage, coach, influence and motivate her teams.
Maya went on to further test her leadership and marketing skills by taking on chunky leadership roles within corporate sustainability and talent & learning and then running a portfolio of leadership & strategy programmes in LBS executive education as programme director.
Now, as an executive coach for London Business School and other organisations, she works with individuals and small groups on their leadership journeys. She is also researching Executive Development with Thinker’s 50 Julian Birkinshaw. She is currently researching the topic of Positive Social Media for her MSc and blogs as a Psychologies Magazine expert on topics related to Positive Psychology.
Thank you for joining us Maya can you tell us a little bit about your background story an executive coach?
Great to be here! I’ve been coaching for a decade now, most of my work is with institutions and corporates, but I have a very small number of private clients who I have been coaching over the long haul. I slowly built up my coaching practice after training at Henley Business School, side-hustle-style. Initially, it wasn’t easy – I was keen to harness my corporate experience and win meaty coaching contracts with organisations (B2B), as coaching individuals-only (B2C) was not a viable business for me. I certainly faced some barriers on this journey, which I’ve shared in some detail in recent Instagram posts. But at the end of 2018, it was finally viable to go freelance with my executive coaching so I took the leap! Its sort of been a life-long dream of mine to do what I now do!
Complementing this, I’m going down a bit of an academic path too. I’m lucky enough to be doing some very exciting research with London Business School on how executives develop which we hope to publish. It’s cool to both see this in practice in the coaching as well as through a research lens, and a privilege to work alongside their Faculty.
Can you tell us about your personal motivation behind launching the YourPlate Podcast co-hosted alongside nutrition Aarti?
I know what it’s like to have a lot on your plate – be stretched to your limits even – particularly when I was juggling a full-time job, side-hustle, Masters, two small kids etc. I am doing an MSc in Positive Psychology which contains incredible research-based insights to support our psychological wellbeing. So the idea behind the podcast was to bring these insights to busy people who need it the most, broken down into the most practical steps, in the way I’m used to doing with clients.
I’ve always been passionate about wellbeing, nutrition is one key aspect of this. Aarti and I have been lifelong friends and always bonded over a shared love of all things food, dance and spiritual. Our first two series have explored nutrition, meditation, and goals. We are constantly being told that our dynamic is great and it been a lot of fun doing this together.
Now I’m turning my research towards digital wellbeing because this is increasingly a topic of coaching with clients. So the September series will be focused on ‘Positive Social Media’ – the mindsets and practices we need to use social media to support flourishing. Amidst the recent global pandemic and associated disruptions to normal social connection, this is arguably more important than ever!
You currently coach at The London Business School, what top 3 key traits do you think makes a credible coach?
Each coach might bring different things to the table. These are just some of the things that might be important, and of course, you’ve got to feel like you have a good rapport with your coach, even if it’s over the phone or through video:
- Proper coaching and listening skills and the ability to ask great questions, without judging the client
- Personal career success and achievement – so that some role modelling can take place
- Insights that are not opinions but drawn from a relevant research base
Can you explore the extensive research that you are currently studying on the mental impact that social media has on society and how are you trying to encourage a more proactive approach towards utilising our time online?
I’m so excited about this research! There is a lot in traditional media reported about the negative psychological impacts of social media. But having reviewed the research, there are actually a lot of positive impacts too – for some reason this doesn’t make it to the headlines! This doesn’t mean it should be used without boundaries, in fact, I am very firm around my social media boundaries (most of the time!!). Based on the research and my own coaching experience, these are some of the insights:
- Start with your vision. What are your overall life and work visions? If you haven’t figured this out, you’re not going to be able to be intentional about your use of social media
- Think about your online Identity rather than brand. Social media offers us to create the identity we want. We chose how we show up and the energy that we share online. ‘Branding’ can make us think it all needs to be shiny and perfect – it doesn’t!
- Use it for social connection not social comparison. The research shows that its mindsets such as comparison mindsets and being motivated by extrinsic factors that make people miserable online. Instead, think about your dream community and cultivate that!
These are just a handful of the insights which I will explore in the ‘Positive Social Media’ book I am writing.
Do you have any current mentors? Either professionally or personally….
Currently, my main mentor is Alison Jones, who is mentoring my book writing and business – it has been a phenomenal process. I also learn constantly from the Professor I’m researching Leadership Development with, an academic powerhouse, Julian Birkinshaw.
Do you currently use any apps or tools to help the functionality of your day everyday work life?
The couch to 10 running apps is brilliant, and of course, Fitbits are great for incentivising that extra bit of movement. And I have had to start using Schedule Once, as an independent, I don’t have the same admin support I used to have in the Corporate World.
What has been one of the most valuable lessons so far throughout your career?
Patience! As a coach and coachee, I’ve always been able to identify my big vision and purpose, but sometimes I’ve been impatient about getting there! If I could have known 10 years ago that I’d be able to do what I’m doing now, I’d have been so chuffed. I’m a big believer in releasing intentions to the universe and allowing them to materialise at the right time. In fact that there are things beyond what you can envision today which can materialise for you. But you have to be patient and commit.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
At KPMG I used to run the Women’s Network and it was great for both my career and supporting other women’s careers. That network alone gave me more career opportunities than getting a ‘good rating’ at work ever did. I love the fact that #BEYOUROWN is a big digital version of this, with both a strong social media presence as well as in-person events. Samana herself made the effort to call and get to know me and given the size of the network, I found this made it feel really personal.
What does 2020 look like for you throughout the rest of the year?
This is a research and writing-heavy year for me! Hopefully, towards the end of the year, my Positive Social Media book writing and podcast series will be in full swing. This is alongside my usual coaching work and research, kids etc. So it’s a big year, rather scary, but very exciting!
Let’s hope things pan out ok with the Pandemic too…
Listen to all of the YourPlate podcast episodes here
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