UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


Tanya Chakravarti - Psychology and Language Sciences

Tanya Chakravarti studied Psychology and graduated in 1977.

Tanya Chakravarti

Current job title: Executive coach
Current employer: Self employed

Why did you choose UCL and your degree programme?

My uncle completed his PhD in Psychology at UCL in 1938 and so I always knew it was a great place to be. Also I wanted to remain in London. I remember reading a prospectus from A to Z and thinking that Psychology was the most interesting subject I could study - and so it proved to be!

What did you enjoy most about your time at UCL?

The chance to meet some like minded people (but also to hear some different points of view). Being very central.

What did you enjoy most about your degree programme? 

Access to some really interesting topics and some great lecturers. The chance to do some original research in the 3rd year.

Did you experience any benefits from undertaking your studies in London?

So many resources on the doorstep. Being able to carry on with cultural activities such as theatre going and galleries. Remaining in touch with my ex-schoolfriends.

Do you have any tips or helpful advice for incoming students?   

Make the most of the opportunities that come their way - both academic and social - and really enjoy all that London has to offer.

How did you get to where you are now in your career? Was there anything that particularly helped?   

I especially enjoyed Social and Occupational Psychology at UCL and got vacation work with Camden Council in their Social Services staff section. This led to a desire to work in HR, or Personnel as it was then called. I applied to big organisations who offered graduate traineeships and was recruited by the BBC. I spent 28 happy and stimulating years there going from Personnel trainee to one of their HR Directors. Whilst there I trained to be a Coach and then did further post graduate training after I left the BBC and have worked as a self employed Executive Coach for the last 10 years. I am finding that some 39 years after graduating from UCL my Psychology degree is still considered really relevant to my current work, together with my managerial and leadership experience.

What do you enjoy most about your job?     

No two coaching sessions are the same even though most leaders, be they in the private or public sector, share a lot of the same challenges, dilemmas and opportunities. It is great being able to create a space where extremely busy leaders can step back from the relentless day to day pressures and then support them to think of issues in new ways and find effective solutions. It was also a great pleasure "coming back" to coach some highly talented women on the Women in Leadership programme at UCL recently.

What does it take to do your job well (strengths, skills etc.)?  

Building rapport; active listening; asking insightful and incisive questions; being supportive but also challenging; flexibility; managing boundaries and emotions; identifying underlying issues; building client's capacity to coach others and to self coach; clarity of communication; interpersonal sensitivity; organisational awareness; ethical/professional standards. I also have to keep my coaching skills and theoretical and practical knowledge up to date by undertaking regular CPD activities and having professional supervision. These are the main skills needed to be a coach. There are also other skills I need which are associated with being self employed including being self-motivated  and a "self starter"; being organised and keeping all the admin up to date e.g. invoices, logging coaching and CPD hours, preparing my accounts etc; networking; managing current stakeholders and contacts as well as finding new ones.

Since leaving UCL, have you used any of the services for alumni such as networking events, reunions or mentoring tools? 

I'm a member of the London alumni group and go to lots of interesting lectures and visits. Being shown round Darwin's garden by Professor Steve Jones was a highlight.

Are you involved in any volunteering activities? 

I am a BBC volunteer keeping in touch with local retired staff.