Karen joined the Trust in 2007 as director of organisational development and in 2011 became the chief nurse and operating officer. In June 2012 Karen was appointed interim chief executive of Cambridge University Hospitals.

Having gone through the Top Leaders programme, Karen chose to continue her personal development using an executive coach. Having already completed extensive management development, including the Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA in Leadership and Change) at Henley Management College, Karen was looking for some very specific outcomes from the coaching.

‘I wanted the coaching to allow me to know my strengths and to see how those strengths could be applied in my professional relationships whether they were with clinicians, Board members, at a local or a national level so that those meetings were as constructive as possible. I also wanted to be able to evaluate my career choices at this stage and to be as objective as possible about my next steps.’

Karen signed up for 4 sessions with Baz Hartnell following a preliminary telephone conversation. ‘I knew I would work best with a coach who had previous experience of working at CE level. Baz had done that and from the beginning, he showed his skills in being able to balance being probing with being quiet to allow me to do the thinking for myself and to discover my own answers.’

The sessions were guided by Karen’s stated objectives but covered additional ground as opinions and feelings surfaced.  Having been a Chief Operations Officer and Chief Nurse, she was used to target-based decision making and of working in a heavily performance-managed environment. During the sessions, Karen came to realise that she could step back from solving other people’s problems and encourage them to take responsibility and ownership of their own answers to problems. ‘It’s about learning the art of the possible. I feel less restricted and more ambitious’.

‘Baz carries real integrity. He’s not there to be your friend but coaches in a really robust way so you always come out of the session with ideas; what’s going to change, what actions you need to take. I felt free to push the session at my own pace so there was time for reflection and time to be challenged; I wasn’t working to Baz’s agenda or pace. While feeling challenged, I also knew it was a totally safe protected space in which to properly consider ideas, issues and options. I trust him explicitly in his wisdom, skills and guidance in getting me to where I want to be’.

Karen Castille
Interim Chief Executive at Cambridge University Hospitals


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