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YOUR EMPATHY PROPHET T - ISSUE 3/ FEBRUARY 2009 18THE LINK I first met Caroline in a very busy, noisy restaurant down in Canary Wharf when we were working on a customer service programme for Reuters. We had to shout to each other over the din of the restaurant. Caroline had a glint in her eye that said there was more to her than most consultants. Caroline was focussed and professional, for sure, but I soon discovered that she had a deliciously dark, truly wicked sense of humour. It was always great fun working with her and her meetings were some of the most creative I have been in. Caroline reads the audience constantly and adapts her style and content to suit them. Her focus is always on the outcome, flexing her behaviour and style. We were working with more than 25 people, yet she still had the ability to connect with each and every one of them. What always amazed me about Caroline were her energy and pace; always keeping the workshops interesting. I later found out that this energy was matched at home, too. She is a busy working mum with three children, a marvellous social life, lots of friends and a new partner - enough to make most people weak at the knees. But she just takes it all in her stride and is always mega calm. My personal theory is that she is actually twins! I guess by now you have worked out that I am a big fan of Caroline's. Yes I am, and I can't wait for the next chance we get to work together again. JOHN WALSH + 44 ( 0) 7887 788 511 CAROLINE HARDWICKE trains people in the skills they need to develop excellent customer relationships. Helping people - coaching them, coaxing them - is something she has done her entire life. YOUR EMPATHY PROPHET T editor, RICHARD DINNICK, talks to her about life, the universe and Watford. As John Walsh says, Caroline Hardwicke has a wicked sense of humour. As a child, she was a Brownie and then a Guide, becoming an expert at camping. Does this mean she can erect a tent in ten seconds flat? ' Oh you'd be surprised how quickly I can manage an erection!' she says and bursts out laughing. So did Caroline always have this mischievous glint in her eye? She laughs. ' I was quite a goody- goody as a child. I really wanted to please my mum and dad and was very frightened about being told off at school.' This picture of a well- behave little girl doesn't square with the attractive blonde woman with a lovely side-line in innuendo. Where could it have come from? The answer is: her father, a bank manager with a wry sense of humour. ' I remember being woken up to uproarious laughter and going downstairs to find my dad watching Monty Python,' she explains. Caroline's mother was a housewife, always busy. Was she a comedy fan, too? ' My mum couldn't stand Dad watching Monty Python,' she says. ' So she'd go and sit somewhere else in the house!' So what did keep her mum busy? ' She was a Brown Owl,' Caroline says. ' I didn't get too many badges in Brownies, but when I went to Guides I did my Queen's Guide and got my camping permit which meant I could take other guides to camp.' It was at Girl Guides that Caroline met someone who changed her life. ' My biggest inspiration at that age was my Guide Captain,' she confides. ' The things she said to me back then really stuck with me. She had a real positive attitude to how we should treat people; putting others before yourself. She was a fantastic role model.' One incident has stayed with Caroline and indeed influenced her whole approach to what she does best Every issue, YOUR EMPATHY PROPHET T asks a previously featured consultant to refer a colleague they truly admire. Although the referral is based on professional credentials, THE LINK is interested in the person behind the job; what makes them the person they are. John Walsh, owner of consultancy boutique, Breakthrough Change Management, recommends Harding & Yorke's Caroline Hardwicke. THE GUIDING LIGHT

© 2009 HARDING & YORKE 19 now - training. ' When I was about 15, I must have lightly blasphemed - said " oh God!" or something - and she took me to one side and said: " That offends some people. You need to be thinking about what you say and who you say it to". She made me think about what I did and the effect it might have on somebody else.' This has served Caroline well, for she always finds a truly personalised way of training people. ' I don't like telling people what to do. Everyone has an opinion and my approach is more food for thought. I'd rather I got people thinking rather than saying " this is how it is"! It should come as no surprise that Caroline is a spiritual person. ' I am and I think we need to be aware of our own egos and how they can get in the way of our happiness,' Caroline says. ' When you look at conflict, it's always down to ego. It's a failure to empathise. And that goes back to that Guide Captain who got me to think about things from the perspective of others.' Revealing that her caring side really does run deep, she tried to follow a career in nursing but was too young, so studied for a private secretary's diploma. ' When I finished I decided to consolidate my skills by working in a private bank in Fleet Street.' She actually did apply to become a nurse, but before she could start her training she fell in love. ' He was 14 years older than me. We got married and bought a house. We had a mortgage and so I couldn't afford to do what I really wanted to do, which was a shame.' Caroline's first child, Katie, was born in 1986. ' I was very lucky with Katie,' Caroline explains. ' I took five years off!' Her husband owned a greengrocer in Chorleywood and Caroline helped with the accounts. ' I actually learned a lot about retail, too,' she says. Her first son, Elliott, was born in 1991 ' I needed to earn some money, but I still wanted to give Elliott as much time as I had given Katie.' The solution? Ever practical and resourceful, Caroline became a childminder for three years - another indication of her caring, guiding personality. The move into customer service came about in 1994, a few years before her third child Joseph was born. ' I saw an advert in the local paper for people to work as mystery shoppers,' Caroline says. ' I really did start off on the bottom rung - listening to thousands and thousands of telephone calls; getting a feel for what sounded good and what didn't.' This experience was to stand her in good stead when her ' big break' came. Caroline was managing accounts for Qualtrack ( the same company that Nickie Hawton had worked at - see YOUR EMPATHY PROPHET T issue 1 for her interview). The company went through a rough time and shed a lot of staff. ' Nickie had too much work so some of it was passed to me. I was really hungry to learn and I desperately wanted to get into that role,' Caroline says. Later, she moved to be Manager at a Call Centre. ' After three months I had turned the results around!' Caroline was duly promoted to Customer Services Director. ' It actually got to a point where I had developed my nine managers to such a level I was getting into work and wondering what I was going to do today! So I went to see my boss and asked if they would make my role redundant.' That's when Caroline moved to Harding & Yorke. And became senior consultant. ' I have been really lucky,' she says. ' I had the time to enjoy my children when they were little without having to think about career moves. When I did come back to work, it was with enormous energy and enthusiasm!' It is obvious that this enthusiasm isn't going to burn out any time soon. Anyone who comes into contact with Caroline will come away from the experience having learned something or - as Caroline might prefer - having been made to think by someone who truly is a guiding light. THE LINKS Cath Cartridge Nickie Hawton John Walsh Caroline Hardwicke ? Contact Caroline: + 44 ( 0) 7979 632 761 CarolineH@ empathy. co. uk