Change the System, Not Yourself Headshot

Geraldine Gallacher

MBA 1981

Alumni 100
CEO, Executive Coaching Consultancy and Public Speaker for Women at the Top

Early in her career, Geraldine Gallacher spotted a gap in the market: one-to-one coaching, helping individuals develop in the workplace. Her coaching company now has over 50 coaches worldwide, and has made pioneering moves in the industry.

In 2005, they noticed a huge flaw in the system. Talented women were being lost after having a baby as firms didn't know how to retain them. A change needed to happen. In a bid to change this, maternity coaching was introduced. Now known as Parental Transition Coaching, this is a movement that continues to improve female retention rates and improve company culture across sectors.

Geraldine has since become a leading voice in boardroom diversity—the person big businesses call when they'd like to retain talent and make their workplaces more diverse.


How does it feel to be selected for the Alumni 100 list?

"I'm honoured to be selected."

What made you choose to study at the University of Edinburgh Business School?

"I was in the first class of MBAs at the University of Edinburgh in 1980/81. I had been studying languages with business at the University and realised that I was more taken with the business studies course than either my French or Spanish course. My marketing lecturer David Reid pointed me in the direction of the new MBA course just being launched.

"I was really taken with the idea of a one-year master's covering all the essentials in business. As I was already a student at the University, I visited the new business studies suite and was quite taken with the idea of sharing this dedicated space with just 40 others, all different ages and coming from different countries."

What are your memories of studying at the Business School?

"My MBA year was my favourite year at university. It was very intense, both on the studying front and the socialising front!"

What key thing that you learnt at the Business School do you still rely on today?

"It gave me the confidence to work with all different functions within an organisation. I still rely on the strategic models we learned on my MBA course and I was lucky to have been under the guidance of Professor Simon Coke who was a brilliant lecturer in International Business. He encouraged me to apply to the Ford Motor Company where I started my career as a graduate in the sales and marketing function."

Proudest work-related achievement to date?

"My company's 25th anniversary. It was marvellous to have family and friends join me at a big party in the Victorian Bath House in London to celebrate the Executive Coaching Consultancy's 25th birthday."

What's the one thing you think current students need to develop or learn before entering the modern workplace?

"Self-awareness."

Great business isn't about following suit—it's about paving the way. In Geraldine's case, that begins with redefining outdated company systems.