Victoria Ramsden

Victoria is an Executive Coach working with ethical change-makers, values-led professionals and sustainability innovators to achieve greater impact.

First trained in NLP and coaching techniques 18 years ago, Victoria’s philosophy to leadership has always been grounded in ethical principles.  Holding leadership roles in publicly funded services, social housing, operational performance and renewable energy asset management, Victoria has extensive experience in getting lasting results. 

Victoria’s coaching philosophy places her clients as the expert of their unique operating context.  Victoria uses coaching techniques to provide an ethical framework for each coaching assignment which is tailor-made to every client’s individual circumstances and requirements.

Before diving into your current endeavors, what childhood dreams did you harbor, and how do they manifest in your work today?

I had a very happy childhood with a big extended family growing up in London, UK.  When I was 11 my parents moved with my brother and I to a small city called Bristol a few hours away from London.  It was good for us in many ways by moving out of a large city, but we missed our friends and family and both my brother and I found it hard to settle.  We both moved back to London as soon as we were old enough!  I think like many kids, I felt like I didn’t fit in and I’m sure my sense of feeling isolated ultimately nudged me towards coaching to better understand myself and others.  Not that I ever knew this as a child or young adult, but I feel like coaching was my destiny in some way, as I look back. And I feel very lucky to have had the experiences I have had which led me to where I am today.

If you could pen a letter to your younger self, what empowering words would you whisper across time’s whispering winds?

It took many experiences over a number of years where the same patterns were repeating themselves before everything clicked into place and I knew I had to go for it.  Early on in my working life after graduating I witnessed an aggressive management style towards me and others. It stuck in my mind because it was so unaligned with the ethos of the company.  At this same company was where I was first trained in coaching and NLP techniques, it was a really progressive place to work and my training enabled me to get better results and drive higher performance from operating in a coaching and servant leadership style.  So the extremes of exemplary leadership and this aggressive style really planted the seed.  And as I say, I had a few hard lessons to learn encountering similarly aggressive leadership styles until one day, I thought “there has to be a better way”!

What’s your work all about, and how does it make a difference in the world?

I have a simple mission to change the world by coaching.  I believe that every human is inherently good and ethical, and as humans, we are also all fallible.  Coaching helps us to see our blind spots, understand the unconscious assumptions we operate from and overcome the limiting beliefs we all have and which typically drive negative behaviours.  My coaching achieves this by creating a compassionate and non-judgemental space for my clients.  Essentially, coaching is about raising awareness and creating space to choose how we think, feel and act in any given situation.  

Neuroscience tells us that we operate from two parts of our brains, one part drives our survival functions and the other drives our cognitive processing, the “thrive” part.  Most humans revert to operating from the survival part of their brains, especially when stressed.  Coaching helps us to operate from the thrive part of our brains.  When you consider global political and corporate leaders who hold the power and the money and we think about which parts of the brain they operate from, we can see how the problems of the world are created and exacerbated. So when I say I am on a mission to change the world by coaching, I really mean that and these are the leaders I would love to coach!

Reflecting on your journey, what unexpected plot twists moments have shaped your path?

As a coach, every moment where I see one of my clients have a new insight, or overcome a limiting belief they hold about themselves is for me the biggest achievement.  When I think about how harmful these beliefs are, the things they stop us from doing and the pain they cause and I see a client being able to shake them off through coaching, I get so emotional because literally every one of those moments is an accomplishment for my clients.  I have worked with some extraordinary people doing extraordinary things in their organisations.  Having my clients place their trust in me as their coach is the greatest privilege and the most humbling thing I have ever done.

If you could travel back in time to witness an important moment for women, what would it be?

I refer to it above but to summarise as this, one of the coaching principles that I operate from which is also a principle of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is to see the positive intention behind every action, even when that action is negative and even when that action may cause harm!  This is not condoning the behaviour, but it is recognising that (there are of course possible exceptions for the 1% of the global population who are psychopaths, although I would still apply the same principle to them) most humans want to do a good job and want to do the right thing but their programming from childhood years before the critical thinking part of our brains has developed means that we all revert back to unhelpful behaviours, especially in situations of heightened stress. If we can all show compassion and recognise that everyone is trying their best, then the opportunities for avoiding conflict and instead creating positive collaboration, are magnified.

What special ability do you wish you had to make your job easier?

Firstly, of course I support women in leadership.  We have two genetic sexes in the world and both are equal!  I am proud of every woman who has punched through the glass ceiling and every woman who continually tries in the face of adversity.  There are positive and negative traits to both feminine and masculine leadership styles so I would love the conversation to be less about men and women, and more about the positive aspects of both masculine and feminine leadership traits.  We need both!

Picture a world where every young woman follows in your footsteps. What does that world look like, and how does it feel?

What I say might seem provocative to some, it is not intended to be and I’m not talking about cases where there has been violence, coercion or control towards women, that is unacceptable.  This is where my thoughts are more nuanced: I don’t condone bad behaviour from the patriarchy at all.  As a woman, I am trying to better understand the male brain so that the dialogue can be less combative.  I talk about power above.  For equality to truly happen, men need to “give up some of their power”.  I can understand that some men will see this is a threat and when any of us are threatened, we revert to our survival ways of thinking and operating.  This only makes it more challenging for women to gain equality.  So I’d love us to be able to have more nuanced, honest, transparent and vulnerable conversations without blame and shame, about what giving away power really means for both sexes.  If we can really do this and be really honest about what we all want, why it matters and where the opportunities are for new ways of thinking about this, then I genuinely believe we would be able to define “equality” in a way which suits both sexes.  The challenge, (and the fun bit!) is that we are a world with 7 billion people.  Every one of us will have a different interpretation of what equality means to them and that may change in different dynamics, so let’s stop making generalisations and start to have more sophisticated conversations, in every individual context we are in.