Dr. Alex O’Neill is an achievement driven professional who, through personal development coaching, has harnessed the power of visualisation to help earn him career defining recognition in his field.

Personal development coaching client Alex ONeill presents at the EngD conference after preparing using visualisation techniques supported by Siendo

One of Rebecca’s first coaching clients, Alex, began looking for additional support when applying for a highly competitive EngD program with Jaguar Land Rover in early 2017. Rebecca has been supporting Alex ad hoc for four years, each time in preparation for a significant milestone in his professional journey. 

Since the end of 2020, Alex and Rebecca have increased the frequency of his coaching to once per week as he prepares his next steps following graduation from his PhD program this year.

What made Alex consider a personal development coach? 

He and Rebecca worked together in banking just as Siendo was beginning to offer personal development coaching. Alex experienced a personal realisation around the same time – that, although he was outwardly “successful” in his role, he was ultimately unfulfilled as his development in that position was more or less “complete”: 

“[I had an] epiphany of realising that I needed to constantly achieve and it didn’t matter what the goal was – I just needed a spot on the wall to aim for and to run to it – that really opened up the dialogue with me and Rebecca.

I think she introduced me to the world of personal development […] you can really make small changes to begin to move in the direction that you want to go in and really enhance and change your life. She really opened my eyes to that. She was always my origin point, I’d say: ‘OK, I want to do this or that, so let’s speak to Bec’. “

Dr. Alex O’Neill – Siendo coaching client

This early conversation led Alex to apply for the EngD program. 

Were there any “aha” moments as a result of coaching sessions? 

In 2018, Alex was put forward to apply for a fellowship with the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. It is an honour to be put forward – this is an event established by royalty and boasting a prestigious lineage of notable scientists including 13 Nobel Laureates. Alex made it through the rigorous application process and secured an interview. His first reaction? 

I called Becca and said: ‘I need your help, this is the biggest thing I could ever do, so I need your help’.

Dr. Alex O’Neill – Siendo coaching client

Working through various techniques to prepare Alex for the interview, he says “the biggest thing [Rebecca] gifted [him] was visualisation”. Alex pictured the whole interview day in vivid detail over and over. Alex became an Industrial Fellow in 2019, and credits much of his success in the application process to this visualisation technique. 

What followed was a run of prestigious accolades, each with their own daunting application processes. This time Alex turned to Rebecca for help in presentation technique to pair with the visualisations. In quick succession, he won the award for best paper at IAVSD Sweden, the EIS Peter Watson Prize, and the annual PhD prize at the University of Surrey, where he studies for his EngD. Concluding the run at what he refers to as “the Oscars of the tire world”, Alex won the Young Scientist award

Though the work and credit are undeniably his, Alex attributes his progression through each rigorous selection panel to the personal development work Rebecca guided him through. 

Did Alex resist any parts of the coaching process? 

Initially, Alex found it difficult to just talk without Rebecca providing answers. He felt that he already had a good understanding of the areas he needed to develop and was unsure how to also come to the conclusions himself. With slow, gradual acceptance of the coaching process he realised that he was the only person who could provide those answers and “things became much easier”. 

One thing I’m still struggling with? It’s learning to stop and smell the roses – it’s constantly next, next, next. I know I need to work on that.

Dr. Alex O’Neill – Siendo coaching client

Does Alex have any advice for someone considering personal development coaching for the first time? 

Three things: 

  • Be humble and willing to accept that you can and should change 
  • Prepare to be vulnerable: the more you open up, the faster you can change 
  • Don’t be afraid: it may be uncomfortable at times, but the more you embrace the process – the better the outcome.