Coaching Close To You – Empowering people and employers to reach their full potential

Melissa Roa created Coaching Close To You (CCTY) in 2021 as a way for individuals to empower, support and help you to “release your inner power and potential by growing your self-awareness and confidence to achieve your own goals”. By coaching a person through the journey to find what they want to do, to write their CV/Cover Letter, interviewing skills and onboarding into a organisation. While also creating a B2B side of the business, creating workshops, team building events, and Tailored Workshops, Group Dynamics, HR Business Training, 121 and group NLP and Coaching Sessions, Layoff Program Support. In 2023 Melissa partnered with Juliana Barcelos to increase their potential. I interviewed them to find out more: 

  1. What was your backgrounds before becoming entrepreneurs?

Before becoming an entrepreneur, I worked for a range of large American Enterprises in Customer Support, Sales and CSM roles. During more than ten years working in tech companies, I was often the only woman in the room, a typical scenery for women in tech. Given all the challenging situations I had to overcome and the power I had to show while many people doubted my capabilities and skills, I founded Coaching Close To You after concluding an in-depth coaching course to empower people to believe in themselves. I believe in the power of partnerships, as no one can cover all aspects of a business. To enhance service offerings and increase CCTY potential, I partnered in 2023 with Juliana Barcelos, my close friend since 2012. Juliana is a DEI Talent Acquisition Manager and an enthusiastic leader with over eight years of experience in talent acquisition and development. She is a true motivator and the best person to empower my vision for CCTY and any other projects she touches.

  1. What is Coaching Close To You’s origin story? How did the business begin?

Coaching Close To You was formerly registered as a Limited Company in Ireland on 11th August 2021, but it started early in 2016 with the conclusion of my Coaching Diploma. In 2016, I had to practise coaching sessions to get awarded the final diploma. Given my background, it naturally evolved to Career Coaching supporting Expatriated people, mainly the Brazilian and Latino American communities, given my fluency in Portuguese and Spanish. Given my background working for tech companies and, unfortunately, being exposed to different situations involving bullying and toxic environments during her professional career. After acquiring the NLP and Coaching tools, I could stand up for myself and navigate this situation without further mental health harm. But I am a people person, very caring and concerned about how a person would navigate the same situation without the same tools or any support. I also wanted to empower people to go further in their careers and overcome any type of obstacles, and this is why I founded Coaching Close To You, to support and embrace people anywhere, because we all have a hidden power within us that has to be awaken with the proper guidance! So CCTY purpose is to raise awareness via workshops on a series of mental health, DEI and career topics to generate awareness and grow people’s awareness and confidence.

  1. What were the biggest challenges in terms of building the company? How do you go about solving them?

As a solo entrepreneur, everything can be a challenge, given the fact you are only one person, to develop your product and services, to market it, to raise funds and deal with the admin and accountancy, but I would say that trying to understand the legal requirements and meet them was the most challenging part. As a foreigner opening a company in Ireland, I had to do a more profound research and surround myself with people who could guide me in those grey areas. My best advice is to get the advice of the specialists in each area, and when possible, do not try to do it all alone. As an entrepreneur, you need to understand that some tasks could be outsourced while you focus on more important ones, and it took a long time to learn it. In the beginning, I tended to do it all by myself

  1. You have both a B2B and a B2C side of the business. Can you explain who you help those on both sides?

Yes, it all started with our B2C first. Initially, I delivered coaching sessions and interview preparation sessions to individuals on one-to-one bases on-site in Ireland. Over time, I became known in Ireland’s Brazilian and Latino-American communities. Most of my customers were from those countries, as they encountered difficulties getting started in the Irish corporate industry. Given my personal journey, I was able to understand their challenges and support them in overcoming them. So, currently, I can support the B2C side of the business with individual Coaching and NLP sessions, interview preparations, hypnotherapy sessions, and systemic family therapy sessions.

Now speaking of the B2B side of the business, we have a different range of services, as different needs are covered with our B2B offerings. For the B2B we have Tailored Workshops, Group Dynamics, HR Business Training, 121 and group NLP and Coaching Sessions, Layoff Program Support, Career Development Strategies and Mentorship apart from the Relocation Assistance program. Our services are aimed at any company that must tackle and address conflictive subjects or difficult situations with our tailored workshops and group dynamics. We can also improve the hiring process and the candidate experience of any BPO but not only limited to BPO businesses with our HR Business training delivered by Juliana. With the 121 and group NLP and Coaching Sessions and the Career Development Strategies and Mentorship program, we can support companies compromised with employee wellbeing and development. Another program aimed at supporting employees during a difficult time is our Layoff Program Support which aims to empower and support professionals impacted by massive Layoffs. This is a discreet program aimed at helping companies brand and embraces people’s needs during this moment when new perspectives need to be set. And last but not least, our program Relocation Assistance. Sometimes it isn’t easy to find candidates inland, and you might need to source them abroad, so we ensure candidates have the best experience while moving to Ireland. We can support them with the basic tasks they must accomplish when arriving in the country. So, as you can see, between CCTY B2C and B2B programs, we cover not only what matters to the employee and their career but also to the employers related to their experience and satisfaction.

  1. Can you tell us more about the workshops you provide? What do you find most popular?

At Coaching Close to You, we have a range of already built workshops, and the most popular topic is as follows: Career topics – how to build a strong and long-lasting career, how to navigate and find purpose in fast-paced environments like the corporate one, Self-confidence and empowerment, Mental Health and Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) best practices. But we can also deliver on-demand topics, as we understand that each company might be going through different situations and need to address different topics. Given our experience, we can personalise workshops in any subject, using NLP and Coaching tools to ensure they are interactive and empowering.

  1. What are some of the benefits of attending the workshops for a client?

The benefits of attending a workshop can be many, and I will divide my answer into two different perspectives: 

A. As a company that hires our services, the benefits are the possibility of addressing complex subjects and promoting a discussion in a safe environment. As a result, the company would have enhanced employee confidence, boosted employee engagement, productivity and demonstrated career development support and guidance. A company that hires our workshops will also demonstrate support for its employee´s goals within the company, helping them to perceive an increased sense of purpose which would increase employee satisfaction rates. 

B. From the employee perspective, the benefit of attending a third-party workshop would be that they feel more open to expressing their feelings and opinions, as their company does not deliver this, and we create a safe environment for a constructive discussion.

  1. What have been some of the highlights since you started?

Since CCTY started, the biggest highlight is between my B2C side of the business, as at the end of the day, it is all down to people. People run organisations, people lead teams, and if they are not in their best form, their professional side would also be impacted. I have seen people recovering their confidence and life purpose after going through difficult situations. By attending NLP and Coaching sessions, they have unblocked old beliefs and repetitive thoughts, which made them achieve things in their personal and business lives that they might not have thought of before as they did not have the perspective that it was possible. In other words, paraphrasing what a customer once told me, I gave back the ability to dream and conquer things again. Another highlight, and now speaking of my B2B customers, is the fact that after delivering our workshops and also supporting the learning and development departments of the companies hiring us, we received valuable feedback on the increased sense of purpose and belonging employees find, that is something that fulfils my heart, as it can be very distressing being at work without finding meaning or a sense of purpose to be there.

  1. How have you marketed the business since starting? What marketing strategies have you found works best?

To be honest, I haven’t done any marketing efforts. I believe in word of mouth; fortunately, this has been my best marketing effort. I do have 2 Instagram pages one in Portuguese and one in English @coachingclosetoyou.en, where I share tips and advice, but I never invested in paid marketing, nor have I done any marketing campaigns. I don’t discard doing it in the future, as the more people can get to know CCTY, the better, but first, I want to grow organically and use the power of networking. As I work with very personal topics, I believe that people need to know me first to get to know about my services. I know this might not be the most effective marketing strategy, but I believe people need to create rapport first to be able to trust my services, and so far, it works for me!

  1. How are you hoping to grow the business in the future, both in terms of the workshops you offer and the clients you attract?

At CCTY, we believe nurturing and investing in retaining current customers is critical to success. We intend to grow the CCTY portfolio of Workshops so we can support the same customer more them once and become our customer’s trust advisor. To grow the CCTY workshop portfolio, we intend to partner with different industry specialists and bring then on board to deliver specific topics. On the other hand, we have a project of launching some info products next year, which will address different topics and serve the business’s B2B and B2C side. Of course, we can’t only rely on our current customer base, and we have recently launched new services, so we plan to increase our customer base by prospecting and selling the different services we have. Something I firmly believe is the power of references, and the better we serve our current customers, the more customers we will be served shortly, as companies have similar needs, and if you can demonstrate you solved a problem they also had in company A, you will be able to work with company B.

  1. Are there any other businesses in the Diversity and Inclusion sector in Ireland that you are big fans of? 

I would love to start by mentioning the work performed by Furkan Karayel in her book called Inclusive Intelligence: How to be a role model for Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace. Her book is a practical guide to help leaders implement a more diverse and inclusive workplace, with practical examples and the skills needed by a leader to transform the workspace. Her book generates great awareness and brings inclusion to life, setting the standards and how to do it. Other organisations which are working to bring more awareness into the DIE discussion are the Irish Centre for Diversity and the Open Doors Initiative. This last one provides opportunities to some of the marginalised members of our society to get access to training, education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.