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An interview with Deborah Ogden

Deborah Ogden

Attendees of next week’s PA Life Training Day will recognise Deborah Ogden as one of the world-renowned speakers conducting a session. She’ll be teaching PAs how to make a good first impression and influence others. Deputy Editor Molly Dyson recently asked Deborah some in-depth questions to give attendees an idea of what to expect next week.

Molly Dyson: Tell me about your career before getting into coaching.
Deborah Ogden: I studied law at university and went on to train as a solicitor. I soon realised it wasn’t the career for me but took valuable lessons from my time training and working in the profession, including the discipline, focus and ability to build relationships with many different people. I went on to work for a management consultant and discovered marketing and communications. I was immediately hooked!

From there I landed my dream job at Old Trafford Cricket Ground and worked as Media Manager for Lancashire County Cricket Club, working with the likes of Andrew Flintoff, Mike Atherton and James Anderson. Many of the principles I use today are techniques I practised at Old Trafford, preparing the professional team for media appearances and sponsorship duties. Whether you are in the public eye or wanting to raise your profile in a business arena, the principles are the same.

My career has also included stints in marketing and communications at the British Heart Foundation and Cooperative Insurance. In an often challenging environment I learned the power of impact on a personal level. We all have to influence people on a daily basis, in our work and personal lives; impact allows you to do that whilst remaining authentic and true to yourself.

MD: How did you come up with the idea to go it alone as an impact and personal branding coach?
DO: I was working part-time for a fabulous local training company called CragRats – a role I continued after having my little boy Oscar. The company sadly went into administration and we were all made redundant. I’d always wanted to run my own business and I saw this as the opportunity to give it a go. For me, identity has always been a big part of who I am – once you are known for something you can build your reputation and become the ‘go-to’ person in your field, company, or profession. It became clear that the principles of publicity and impact I had used routinely within large organisations could also be essential tools for individuals who needed to project their own personal brand.

MD: What services do you offer, for both individuals and businesses?
DO: My approach centres around increasing personal impact and how to make an impression – from body language and visual impact to communication skills – and understanding how these impact on the people around you.

I work with individuals to clarify and communicate their personal brand effectively. Often people who are ‘technically excellent’ progress so far in their career but come to a point where they are held back by a lack of presence and impact. I believe presence is something that can be learned by anyone (a lucky few are born with it!). Once you unlock the potential that is within each individual, they go on to perform as their best self, in all areas of their life.

Within businesses I work with teams to ensure each individual communicates the company brand effectively. Many businesses have a vision and values but the staff don’t consistently embody these. The people making up a business are potentially the best ambassadors of the brand. We work on how those values are translated into behaviours and how everyone can take ownership and play a part in living them every day.

Building an effective personal brand is also about communicating and growing a network. I also work with individuals on their presentation skills and how to network effectively – building their profile.

MD: What has been your proudest moment in your career as a coach?
DO: Every time I get an email from a client who has mastered their own personal challenge. I had a lovely email from a client last week who had been held back by comments her maths teacher had made more than 20 years ago. After a few coaching sessions she gave, in her words, “my best performance to date… I even started to enjoy it. Mr X is now buried for good”. I particularly enjoy sharing my work through public speaking and seeing the response of the audience when they realise these are tools and techniques that are available to everyone immediately. Some of my most enjoyable events have been working with PAs – a couple of years ago presenting at Olympia and as a regular speaker for the PA Hub.

MD: What is visual impact and why is it so important?
DO: When we meet people we make a decision about them in a fraction of a second. We use all our senses to assess whether they are ‘friend or foe’. Visual impact is the first of the senses (but not the only one) that comes in to play. How someone presents themselves, their body language, posture, how they walk in the room, all make up their visual impact. The mind and body are inextricably linked, so even our mental state and energy will be picked up in those first few seconds. Research shows it can take at least a further eight interactions to right a wrong first impression – how many times do we get even a second opportunity in the business world?

MD: Can you give us a taster of what PAs can expect to learn at the Training Day?
DO: I’m looking forward to a fun and interactive session during the Training Day. One of the wonderful things about personal brand and impact is that everyone has personal experience, whether they initially recognise this or not. During the morning we will delve deeper into the importance of first impressions – why it is our primal instinct coming to the fore and how we can harness this to our advantage. Each individual will have the opportunity to clarify their own personal brand and we will work together on tools to communicate it effectively and immediately. There will be some very impactful people leaving the session on Wednesday lunchtime!

To find out more about Deborah, visit her website at

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