Soft Skills Coaching
and Training

With Laura Dain


soft skills with hard edge results


Looking for a course for yourself? see classes in Cambridge

Laura's background
I've always been fascinated by people and why we are the way we are. After completing an honours degree in Human Sciences at Oxford University, specialising in psychology, I continued to develop my interest through a range of part-time training in counselling, group-work, stress management and assertiveness training. I was awarded an MA by Oxford University in 2000. At the end of 1991 I left my job as Community Education Officer for ITV's London Weekend Television to become a freelance soft skills trainer. I live with my husband near Cambridge and work mostly in London and the South East.

As a trainer, my goal is to change participants' behaviour and attitudes in ways that help them to work (and live) more effectively. 'Hard edge results' means actual practical changes in ways of working, not just leaving the training ideas behind at the end of the course. Typical examples include stronger delegation skills, more effective time management, better handling of tricky customers, highly polished presentation skills, or increased confidence to try out new things and/or to handle old things better - there are any number of soft skills which are invaluable in the workplace. Specific learning outcomes are achieved through a mixture of three key elements:

  • increasing people's understanding and awareness (participants gain new information and knowledge)
  • demonstrating easily applicable techniques (participants gain ideas and insight)
  • guiding focused practice, feedback and reflection (participants gain new ways of doing things)

This three-fold approach means that people engage deeply with the learning - they are not just 'attending a course' but listening, taking in, discussing, trying out, recognising the value for their own particular needs; and by the end of the training, they know what and how they need to continue to develop and are motivated to do so.

Examples of experience

  • Training teams and inter-team groups for Barts & the London NHS Trust, East London & City NHS Trust, Camden & Islington Primary Care Trust. Developing and delivering a wide range of soft skills training programmes for both clinical and non-clinical managers and staff. Building strong teams, effective communications, excellent customer care, and confidence in managing self and others.
  • Associate Trainer with Alpha Development Partnership, developing and delivering sales and problem solving programmes for high-level teams and individuals in the city.
  • 1995-2004 Course Director and co-leader for the highly popular Certificate & Diploma in Communication Skills at Birkbeck (University of London), a year-long part-time programme in practical professional and personal communication. The programme teaches everything you could want to know about communication, building confidence and competence in dealing with any professional or personal 'people' issues you might face. As Course Director I had responsibility for course content, delivery and assessment.
  • One-to-one coaching for individuals facing a specific challenge in the workplace. Experience with company directors, managers and all levels of staff - usually short-term interventions to work on finding ways forward.
  • 1993-2002 Teaching American Business Studies undergraduates visiting the UK on a 3 month internship programme. These students worked in a range of Cambridge organisations and studied management once a week, applying theories to their practical workplace experiences. (Human & Organisational Development Internship Programme, Vanderbilt University USA with Homerton College Cambridge UK).
  • Co-training on a Diploma in Training & Development for Essex Magistrates Courts' Justices' Clerks, developing practical skills for assisting learning in others.
  • Former member of Tutor Monitoring Panel for Birkbeck Faculty of Continuing Education, visiting classes and writing summary reports as part of the College's Quality Assurance Programme.
  • Selected to co-train with Vice Principal on Tutor Evaluation Scheme for the Mary Ward Centre Adult Education Institute, training tutors.
  • Citizens Advice Bureau assertiveness training for volunteers.
  • Confidence Building programme for HALOW Partners of Prisoners Association.
  • Since 1995 every July I co-lead a very popular residential psychology week set in the beautiful Gloucestershire countryside. Each summer we choose a different theme - ranging from Emotional Intelligence, to Creativity, to Jung, to Understanding Different Therapies, to Being in the Here & Now (see Sample Summer Schools for more information). In addition to this I also teach a residential weekend with the same colleague each spring, with a different theme each year, ranging from Freedom, to Psychosynthesis, to the Psychology of Happiness (see Sample Weekend Workshops for more information).


  • MA Human Sciences - Oxford University 2000
  • Diploma Anatomy, Physiology & Massage - ITEC 1995
  • Combined Certificate in Counselling Skills & Theory - CSCT 1994
  • Certificate in Counselling Skills in the Development of Learning - RSA 1992
  • Certificate in Relaxation Therapy - LSH 1992
  • Certificate in Training Assertiveness - Redwood Association 1991
  • Certificate Foundation Counselling Skills - City University 1991
  • BA Hons Humans Sciences - Wadham College, Oxford University 1984