Sherrington Coaches Chester Zoo Director During Lockdown

Posted on 23rd September 2020 | Sherrington News

Sherrington Associates are pleased to have once again supported long-term client Chester Zoo, this time with an executive coaching project for one of their executive directors. 

In February of this year, Sherrington was retained to deliver a six-month executive coaching programme to support the zoo's Director of Science Simon Dowell through a period of change within the directorate. Sherrington MD Rob McKay would be the coach. 

Little did they know what was around the corner and shortly after starting the programme the UK was plunged into lockdown following the explosion of the global Covid-19 pandemic. Staying true to the original aims and objectives of the coaching programme would be challenge given the rapidly changing circumstances Simon found himself facing, with the forced closure of the zoo being implemented in March. 

Building a trusting relationship from the outset was imperative and despite the incredibly challenging conditions which threatened the very survival of the zoo, Rob and Simon worked exceptionally well together throughout the six months, tackling an ever more nuanced coaching goal compounded by the effects of the lockdown.

Following the success of the 'Save Our Zoo' campaign, Chester Zoo reopened in July and the coaching programme culminated shortly after in August. 

When I started my coaching sessions with Rob McKay in early 2020 I never imagined the challenges that were about to face us through the coronavirus pandemic. Our coaching sessions took on a new dimension as the crisis unfolded but they were undoubtedly instrumental in enabling me to adapt, deal with the uncertainty and stand up for what I believe in during a profoundly difficult period. Rob employed the right combination of challenge and encouragement to keep me focussed, build my confidence and help me devise new strategies for dealing with difficult situations and people. As a result I have been able to make a full contribution to the considerable efforts that have been required by our Directors' team to get the organisation through the crisis and keep true to its mission. Rob is a highly skilled and very supportive coach and one I would strongly recommend to organisational leaders in all sectors.

Simon Dowell - Director of Science, Chester Zoo