Christina Loannidou is the Founder of Spark Back Coaching.
She tells us that, “I’ve spent most of my career in corporate and strategic HR before founding my coaching practice, Spark Back Coaching. I’m a certified NLP Coach, a Trained Facilitator in the Lego Serious Play methodology and LinkedIn Top Voice on work-life balance. In the past, I’ve worked both for large companies such as Samsung and Booking.com and led teams in start-up and scale-up environments such as Yolt, Sympower and GoSpooky where I’ve helped them build HR structures from the ground up in multiple markets. During this time, I have supported and coached people on multiple organizational levels through: Career changes Burnout Work performance issues Conflicts in the workplace Work life balance challenges Having experienced first-hand the unique challenges that come from building and scaling fast-paced, high-performing organizations, I’m now focused on supporting companies and individuals through their growth and development journey both at work and in life.”
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
I had a wonderful childhood in Athens, Greece but as a highschooler, I became increasingly aware of the challenges of choosing a career path that would be able to sustain a well-balanced lifestyle due to the uncertain economic landscape. My studies were in Marketing, Advertising and PR but I quickly realized that I preferred to follow a vocation through which I could really make a difference and help people. However, the work culture in Greece does not make it easy for people who want to explore different career paths or even switch to an entirely new path altogether. So, when an opportunity for an internship in HR came up through my University that didn’t require any relevant academic background, I made sure to grab it. I quickly realized how much I enjoyed working in HR and managed to build a solid career for myself from early on. It was one of the best decisions of my life.
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea or motivation that made you start your business /initiative? What motivated you within to say YES, go for it!”
In my capacity as Head of HR, I had a lot of opportunities to coach employees through many different challenges and it soon became my favorite part of the job. Then, during the pandemic, I was able to receive my coaching certification and started offering pro-bono coaching to people who were struggling with the conditions brought on by the global lockdown. That experience helped me build confidence in my coaching skills and the positive feedback that I was receiving from my clients made me realize that I could turn this into a successful business. I consider myself one of the lucky ones that have been able to turn their passion into work and am very grateful to be able to make a difference in people’s lives.
Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?
As life progresses and changes, we often tend to lose sight of what truly brings us joy. Our days become an endless to-do list and we have trouble connecting with the present moment. This state of living can have a huge impact on our mental health but also in the quality of our relationships at work and personal life. Life should not feel like a job. Your job should not be holding you back from living a joyful life. Balancing work and life can be a fragile act. All the duties, demands, responsibilities, goals and plans should not deprive you of living a meaningful, fulfilled and happy life. My coaching methodology focuses on wellbeing and balance in a pragmatic way that achieves long-term results. Work is an inextricable part of life: with the right tools and techniques, we build healthy and positive habits for you to get the best out of both worlds.
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
Being able to help people build a well-balanced career, find long-term job satisfaction and achieve their goals is the biggest accomplishment and reward for me. I’m also quite proud of the fact that I have been able to set up my business by myself starting from scratch as well as for the amount of things I had to learn (and still learning) along the way.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
I strongly believe in diversity, equity and inclusion as a way to create innovative solutions to problems as well as a force for positive change on a social scale. Women entrepreneurship is a strong factor in shaping the future of the labor market and I support it wholeheartedly.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women leadership today?
Change is taking place but not fast enough. I believe the focus should be more on equity rather than equality when it comes to women leaders. We have diverse needs and instead of trying to adapt to a business landscape that doesn’t fulfill those needs, we need to focus our efforts on shaping the landscape ourselves. This is not only beneficial for women looking to build a career in leadership but also for the market in general. It has been repeatedly proven that diversity in leadership drives innovation, financial growth and success in a business.
What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
There are innumerable challenges to face as a woman leader or entrepreneur and you have to be strategic about your decisions, future plan and actions. Always make sure that you prioritize your own health and balance first and then be very diligent with planning each step and managing your time.