Award Winner Blog Series: Denise Chilton, Winner of Mentor of the Year 2017

On Tuesday 7th March, women across the North West headed to the Hilton hotel in Manchester for the Northern Power Women Awards in celebration of our collective achievements to accelerate gender diversity. I was one of the very lucky women in business to be shortlisted in the ‘Mentor of the Year’ category.

Little did I know, that I would shortly win in that category. The shock really set in as I was called up on stage to accept my award; a beautiful glass sculpture with my name on it!

Coaching and mentoring is my calling and it is core to who I am. I love what I do and the rewards my work gives me are enough but I am over the moon that the impact of mentoring has been recognised.

I believe that my purpose is to help other women to find their purpose. My coaching creates a safe space for women to explore who they are, identify what holds them back and then support them into the action that is right for them.

I offer a space for women to express their emotions and vulnerabilities without judgement. I get to hold the safety net when women step outside of their comfort zone to try something new or scary; safe in the knowledge that someone has their back, whether that is leaving a secure job to start their own business or having a tricky conversation with someone they love. I live my purpose so other women can live theirs.

Winning this award is a reminder of how important it is to support women to fulfil their potential. It gives credibility to coaching and to women in business – and I hope it will encourage more women to invest in themselves.

At its best, mentoring can change lives. It creates a safe space for the mentor and the mentee to share experience and wisdom. It’s an opportunity for the mentee to be inspired by someone who has walked a similar path and overcome the challenges that the mentee now faces. It allows the mentee to see the challenges from a new perspective, builds confidence, and encourages people to move forwards on a path that is right for them.

Standing in the spotlight isn’t always a comfortable place for women yet sometimes we have to leave our comfort zone for the sake of others. This award isn’t for me. It is in recognition for the women I coach every day who invest in their own journey of self-discovery and look to find their own life purpose. The recognition that this award gives provides credibility for the work I do in championing women so I can do more!

Here is a photograph of myself and Sheilagh Kernaghan, without whom I could not have won this award – which is why I asked her to hold it in our photo together. Sheilagh is the woman behind the woman. She has supported me every step of the way and helped me to get Suddenly Single off the ground. In fact, it was Sheilagh who nominated me for ‘Mentor of the Year’ in the first instance.

The point is, to have a good business you need to have good people around you. I am very lucky to work with some amazing men and women. Everyone needs a Sheilagh!

I get the easy job of asking the questions – it is the client that does the hard work. What clients don’t realise is the impact they have on the coach. So for all my clients who are reading this, thank you. You have inspired me, taught me, fulfilled me, made me laugh, made me cry and confirm to me every day that I am so meant to be doing this work.

By Denise Chilton

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