Ciara Davies is a creative business coach who was born in London and now lives in Berlin. Before becoming a coach she worked on trade and business policy as a British diplomat and has over a decade of international experience. Today she draws on her experience in the public, private and cultural sectors to help values-driven creatives start and grow businesses that bring them joy and inspire others.
What drew you to Berlin?
I’m a language-lover at heart and first came to Berlin years ago with the intention of perfecting my school-level German before starting university back in the UK. Originally I had no intention of coming to Berlin and had planned a series of internships in Hamburg, a city I’d already spent some time in. But, in a beautiful twist of fate, one of the companies I’d applied to in Hamburg transferred me to their Berlin office for an internship. I knew no one here, but soon fell in love with the city.
Berlin was a much wilder place back then. The scars of World War II were still visible in bullet holes on the buildings in the centre of town – a reminder that we should never take our freedom and security for granted. There was a sense that anything was possible. If you had an idea for a creative experiment or business, then there was the space and the affordability to make it happen. I have great memories of visiting clubs in abandoned buildings around Mitte with velvet swings and no plumbing!
What was your first job?
There were quite a few career ideas I’d tried my hand at – museum work, media, HR, fashion – before becoming a civil servant. My first government job was working to promote higher education exchanges between China and the UK. As my career in the public sector progressed, I moved to working on EU trade policy and then to helping British businesses enter and succeed in the German market.
What inspired you to become a business coach?
While I was still working for the UK Foreign Office I was given the opportunity to train as an internal coach to help staff maximise their job performance, hit new career goals and manage the lifestyle challenges that arise when you have to move countries every few years as a diplomat. I loved being able to have such a deep and tangible impact on people’s lives. When I decided it was time to build my own business, it felt natural to pursue coaching further. I expanded my skill-set by qualifying as a Master Business Coach in Berlin and now help creative clients based in and outside of Germany launch and grow their businesses.
What is the biggest roadblock you’ve faced professionally? How did you overcome it?
One of the mindset shifts I had to go through in my twenties was giving myself permission to build a career and business based around what makes me happiest and comes most naturally, even if it didn’t seem “worthy” enough. I always wanted to do something that was meaningful and made a positive impact in society. Sometimes this felt at odds with my desire to express my creative side or – dare I say it – just do what was fun. Surely that would be selfish when I should be using my skills on more “serious” endeavours, right? With time I’ve learned it doesn’t have to be either/or. In fact, saving the world starts with you!
What’s an unusual talent that should be on your resume?
Styling – people, spaces and even businesses. It’s probably connected to my childhood dreams of working in fashion or as a museum curator. To me, clothes and accessories are like a box of paints. It’s magical to see what mood or story can be created by choosing and arranging different clothes and objects together. Oh, and I also love to hula hoop – it works great with disco music and it’s impossible to take yourself too seriously while doing it!
What do you do when you need some inspiration?
Dance! Whether at home where no one’s watching or at a ballet class, moving my body is a great way for me to work through my thoughts, feel focused and get grounded in my body. Berlin is the place where I first learned how to salsa dance (from Peruvians in Charlottenburg, of course). It’s a dance I love to this day and that has enabled me to connect with people from the many cultures residing in Berlin outside of the English-speaking bubble. Nothing makes me feel more feminine than dancing salsa and – as an added bonus – I tend to meet like-minded people and get into conversations that spark inspiration, friendships and new ideas.
What do you have in the works for the rest of 2018?
In my business I’ll be empowering more creative, driven people to value their talents highly and grow businesses that support their passions. I’m planning on doing more work with clients internationally and will be hosting a workshop in New York all about how we can take “Design Thinking” innovation techniques from Silicon Valley and apply them to the world of public policy to produce more creative solutions to societal challenges.
Keeping in touch
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As a special gift to my fellow Berlin women, all Berlinerin readers get 15% off my coaching programmes throughout September. Check out my website if you’d like to learn more and apply for a free consultation: http://www.ciaradavies.com