Sandra and I worked together when she was leading the UK real estate team at Gap through a period of unprecedented growth. I was at the beginning of my career in real estate and I learned many things about how one should handle themselves from Sandra, which I still hold dear today, in particular, integrity and attention to detail. I recall well how she set the strategy at Gap and then focused on how to deliver on this. Sandra led the team with passion. I would have no hesitation in recommending Sandra. In fact, any team with her valuable insight and experience can’t fail to benefit and learn.
I have been a coach for nearly a decade, but my professional foundation is in corporate.
Early in my career, I had an amazing job at Gap, working at the corporate office and then in London. It was a time of extreme growth for the company, adding stores, new divisions and expanding internationally as well. I was helping the real estate team put deals together for new store locations. But there were challenges. I was in my 20s and indirectly managing men in their 40s. I was also ready to put my own real estate deals together, but that wasn’t immediately an option. When I decided to look outside for that opportunity, I interviewed at other Bay area retailers, but every time I interviewed with another retailer, it got back to my boss. He offered me promotions, raises, and more stock to stay in what was essentially a “Chief of Staff” role — but not the job that I aspired to….
One of my mentors finally offered me that job on the real estate team in London where I could do what I wanted and more: co-develop and then lead the execution of the breakout real estate strategy for GAP in the UK; successfully open 85 stores over 5 years which grew the UK operations sevenfold; and most important to me, build and lead talented teams of professionals inside and outside the company to source and negotiate the real estate deals.
I achieved what I had dreamed of and more…
But with a small child, another one on the way, and my husband, I struggled to make the right choices for myself and my loved ones. I was raised on the superwoman model, where women were supposed to juggle work and family and everything else without breaking a sweat and that model helped me reach a certain level of achievement in my career.
However, things got to a point where I needed to put my family first and leave the well-paying job I loved. So, I did. This was tough, but it was the right thing to do.
Fast forward 10 years….
When I was getting my MBA in the mid-2010s, I took leadership classes as part of my management concentration: Leading People and Organizations. One class emphasized the importance of values in leadership. This was the opposite of the achievement-only cultures I’d grown up in. Another class helped me see the value in being present in the moment as a leader, very different from the “just produce” mentality I had encountered for years. It was such a turning point to realize that you could be a real human and achieve great things at your work. One didn’t need to exclude the other, but it took focus and support to integrate the two.
I decided I wanted to help leaders live their lives (be human) and approach their work with a deeper understanding of their values and a knowledge of their innate strengths as the foundation. I realized that sustainable, healthy businesses needed to be run by healthy, flourishing people, and I wanted to help people embrace that, whether in corporate or outside of it.
I now have the job of my dreams.
So, after I got my MBA at the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University, I became a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach at the Co-Active Training Institute, a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, and received my Professional Certified Coach Credential from the International Coaching Federation. This meant that I could work with professionals with a full understanding of their life and business challenges while having a deep background in coaching. I also created the Life Reinvented Solopreneur Accelerator®, along with a book and workbook, that helped new and existing entrepreneurs (most of whom came from corporate) create their next chapters.
I’ve had extensive speaking engagements. These engagements have included speaking to women’s business enterprise groups, university classes and alumnae groups, and business summits. I also presented monthly two day paid virtual workshops with 150+ participants for 18 months during COVID, along with weekly virtual networking events, resulting in the participation and transformation of hundreds of new and pivoting business owners.
I led a virtual community of 7000+ small business owners nationwide; I hosted and presented 100+ free weekly in person and then virtual business building trainings and nationwide networking meetings.
This is who I am and how I show up for my clients. It is truly gratifying to be the Executive Coach I wish I had at the times that I struggled during my corporate life.
We all deserve to live full lives. It simply takes a bit of re-training the mind, consideration for us, and willingness to get support. This is how we can have it all and more.
Sandra Hughes brings an extraordinary amount of care, thought, direction, insight and guidance to help an entrepreneur like me create a sensible, realistic and exciting strategy for my business and global vision. Every session is well prepared for and the guidance is given with thought to my bandwidth of available time. She has been a good source for me to have, as a sensible counterpoint and assumption checker. This is valuable for high level leaders to have – it is usually tough to find people of this caliber in the small business world who have the experience and the dedication to help you. I am very grateful for the help that I got from her and I highly recommend Sandra Hughes to support you in determining the right course for your business and also your life – the two are really one and the same and should be integrated as they are with Sandra’s kind but solid direction.
Sandra has been a godsend for me as a new entrepreneur. Her Life Reinvented course is easy to navigate, and filled with actionable items that take people through every possible angle of setting up a business. Even though I had already worked through some of the initial components, like goal- and vision-setting, I still found it very useful to revisit what I want to do as an entrepreneur, and “clean things up” to gather my momentum once more. I am especially appreciating Sandra’s knowledge of the “business” of running a business and getting organized and clear about finances. I’ve had a great experience so far, and look forward to learning more from Sandra and receiving her support. She really wants people to succeed!
Sandra was a results-driven executive who was able to balance developing a strategy and managing execution, critical during our time together. She also knew how to hire and develop strong teams.
Sandra has a 360-degree view and considers the impact of actions on others. She understands how to deploy the talents of a team. She is talented, trustworthy and a great advisor. She helps create results.
Sandra has a unique ability to see the needs one has to succeed with a business idea. She provides support and advice on how to achieve your goals, and how to tackle obstacles along the way. And this in a way that even those who are completely inexperienced in the business world can understand. I can also highly recommend her book, “Reinventing your life” – a very useful tool for those who want to know more about how to run a business.