Day in the life: Inspirus Learning boss leads an organised life

Tara Cherniawski, 38, is a learning and development specialist in Dubai who set up the training and coaching company Inspirus Learning in January after eight years of heading Jumeirah Group’s corporate learning and development division. She is British, married to a Canadian, and has an 18-month-old son.


I get up when Oscar [her son] does and spend an hour or so with him – we’re very energetic first thing, singing and dancing. Partly, starting my own business was about working more flexibly to allow times like these, but I’m also fortunate to have a live-in nanny so I can start work quite early.


I have a very short commute to the third bedroom, my home office. I have an office in Dubai Marina too, but I tend to work from home more. My personality type is to organise and think far ahead, so I try to work a few weeks out, booking coaching sessions, arranging training dates and dealing with inquiries for me to work as an associate for other learning consultancies. My husband Dustin leaves by 8.30am and pops his head in to say goodbye.


If my schedule permits, I go to an exercise class, either Pilates or body pump – I’m then pumped for the day. It’s good for me to exercise and demonstrate work-life balance myself, because I coach it too. I take work clothes with me and get showered and dressed at the gym, as I’m normally going straight on to meetings.


After the gym I’ll have breakfast – I get a huge black Americano coffee and skinny muffin to take away. If I have time, I do a 15-minute brain training session using Lumosity, an app to exercise memory and attention. I believe in self-development and in six weeks I’ve seen a 35 per cent improvement.


I often have executive coaching slots at a client’s office at this time. I work with several large companies in the UAE – an airline, some hotel groups, a PR firm – who sponsor senior executives to be coached as part of their growth and development. We set two work goals and one personal: I’ll meet them weekly or fortnightly to check in.


Time for a Skype call with a new client. This is an exciting project: I’m designing an 18-month global leadership programme for a luxury restaurant group, to retain and grow key talent. People keep asking me when I’m expanding my team – on bigger projects like this, I can partner with other companies if I need to, but I might look to grow in 2016.


I eat out – generally a salad – with contacts or friends from the HR and learning and development world. I like to keep in touch with what’s going on.


Before I start coaching anyone, I have an initial chemistry meeting. As it’s a three-month relationship, the coachee needs to feel comfortable with me. I used to connect executives in companies I worked for with coaches and found it difficult to find good female coaches – it’s partly why I decided to set up Inspirus. I would like to focus on coaching strong women looking to create balance and focus in their lives. This chemistry meeting goes well and we meet their sponsor straight after – I like them to be involved at the outset and end of coaching.


I have a quick call with the NeuroLeadership Group Middle East. Inspirus has just partnered with NLG, so I will be running courses to accredit new coaches, which I find incredibly rewarding. I want to get to know the next group. For full brain-based coaching certification, I’ll do a two-day workshop then a weekly group call for eight weeks, oversee assignments and run a final two-day training course.


I get home and squeeze in some preparation work for a workshop I’m conducting during a company’s senior team retreat. I’ll be using the Hogan technique to look at their “dark side” and “bright side” – how the team performs on a good day and how they’re likely to respond to triggers and pressure.


It’s Oscar’s bath time and bed. He’s teething so I might be in the nursery for up to an hour trying to get him to sleep. I try to be there as often as possible to put him to bed.


Time to wind down and listen to some music. I change into something casual and chat with Dustin. Now that we have a child, we try to have one to two dates a week to truly spend time with each other. Tonight, instead of going out, we’re ordering sushi in, as Dustin is helping me design my website. Dustin’s a former professional American football player and launched the Emirates American Football League, so he’s got start-up experience to pass on. Sometimes I can’t believe we’re both running our own companies, but it seems to be paying off – this is our future.


We don’t go to bed late in the week. Weekends are for seeing friends and calling family, particularly in Canada, but weekdays are for work, my husband and son.

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Suzanne Locke

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