About Us

About Us

Karen Meager

Karen Meager

Founder

Life Motto: ‘It’s the small things that make a big difference’

First Job: At 15 I got my first weekend job in Woolworths which I loved but hated the frumpy tunics we had to wear as uniforms. I worked really hard to get promoted to Supervisor in three months as they had much nicer uniforms. All the best careers have humble beginnings!

Best Boss: Michael who showed me that you could be calm, consistent and dynamic as a Leader. He wasn’t afraid of the difficult people stuff which meant working in his team you felt safe to take risks. He taught me to stand up for myself in an appropriate way, he was one my inspirations for writing Real Leaders for the Real World.

Loves: Renovating properties and exploring the arts world, in particular music, dance and drama.

Experience & Qualifications: Prior to starting Monkey Puzzle in 2007 my experience was in Fund Management and Retail doing various leadership and people development roles. I have an MBA and am an INLPTA accredited NLP Master Trainer, UKCP Psychotherapist and Supervisor and Principal Practitioner Member of the Association for Business Psychology.

 

John McLachlan

John McLachlan

Founder

Life Motto: ‘Always look for the light and the space’

First Job: At 14 I got my first weekend job as a coffee boy at what was then a very fancy restaurant in my village. I remember arriving for my interview in an ill fitting jacket shirt and incongruent tie.  I was very shy and this job really helped me overcome some of that. This job gave me my love of food and was where I first learned to cook - cooking steak diane stroganoff and the like for guests at their table.  I also did a stint as the wine waiter which was fun.  French wine was it then!

Best Boss: Karen!  Apart from her, Mike who helped me see the benefit in taking time to gather and consider data, how to present it back to others in a way that they could understand and process.  He was calm, thought long term and did not get involved in the day to day dramas and gossip of the office. He taught me patience, strategic thinking and how to conduct myself and maintain my dignity when others were shouting and trying to point score. 

Loves: Fresh air and open spaces, eating and cooking food. Travelling, music, learning new things and laughing.

Experience & Qualifications: Before Monkey Puzzle I spent over 20 years in a variety of senior finance leadership roles including a Group FD role in Industry and a Partner for a Scottish Professional CA Practice. In addition to being CA qualified, I’m an INLPTA certified NLP Master Trainer, a Master Practitioner of NLP, a Principal Practitioner Member of the Association for Business Psychology, a Therapist and a Clinical Hypnotherapist.

Jennie Backshell

Jennie Backshell

PA to John & Karen

Life Motto: ‘Take time to make fun things happen and create special memories’

First Job: Helping my Sister with her paper round.  I carried the heavy bag and climbed the steps in the flats, Karen wheeled the bike with the papers in the basket.  She mastered the art of delegation at a young age.

Best Boss: Tim who was the Managing Director in my first job straight out of school.  He was focused, sharing his ideas and plans clearly with all his employees.  He knew what was going on throughout his company and was tough when needed. I appreciated that he treated everyone with respect, despite age or position and was always very approachable. 

Loves: Doing crafts with the children, working with the PTA, organising events

Experience & Qualifications: Tons of office based work, mainly organising people and making things work smoothly, which I love. I am also an NLP Master Practitioner and INLPTA qualified NLP Trainer.

Alison Hopkins

Alison Hopkins

Consultant

Life Motto: ‘Listening is a great means of learning’

First Job: My first job was working in my local grocery store and my most interesting day was challenging the local vicar when he tried to sneak some wine into his bag without paying for it! It was then I learnt the art of firm diplomacy.

Best Boss: I have been very lucky to have some great mentors in my life those believing in my ability and encouraging me to always push the boundaries and limitations.

Loves: Science and Philosophy

Experience & Qualifications: I’ve worked in the accountancy and pharmaceutical industry where I achieved my BSC (Hons) in Animal Science Care and Welfare. I’m an NLP Master Practitioner and Therapist and is a member of and works to the code of ethics of the NLPtCA. I was very excited to become a certified INLPTA NLP Trainer in 2013.

Lara Leon Cullen

Lara Leon-Cullen

Consultant

Life Motto: ‘Be Kind. Be Brave. Be Brilliant’

First Job: My first job was as a babysitter, I ran a very successful little business in the local area and was generally booked up for weekend nights at least a year in advance. Among my “clients” was a nice young lad who has now turned out to be a very successful Irish rockstar.

Best Boss: My two best bosses were very different but shared similar traits. They saw the person I could become rather than the person I presented myself as, and they treated me as if I was already her. They gave me freedom, trust, encouragement and support. They allowed me make mistakes and tried to help me never make them more than once, they gave me the difficult messages as well as the easy ones, and I always felt they liked and cared about me as a person and real human being.

Loves: Music, Travel, Photography, Diving, Languages, Cooking, Yoga and trying new things.

Experience & Qualifications: I was formerly an HR Director working in fashion, retail, manufacturing and FMCG (Ben Sherman, Cath Kidston, Brakes and Molson Coors). I enjoyed working as companies were expanding, downsizing, radically changing and continually improving and working alongside all sorts of people from founders to trade unions to techies and creatives.  I am an INLPTA accredited NLP Trainer, Master Practitioner and qualified Coach.

Sheena Gibson

Sheena Gibson

Consultant

Life Motto: ‘If you don’t like it, change it’

First Job: I worked for the Community Education Department on leaving school and at 16 my first job was to take a bus load of children on a day trip. Either my manager was mad or they recognised my leadership capabilities before I did! No one got lost and the bus load of children made it there and back in one piece.

Best Boss: Maureen who encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and try different roles. Whilst she was very supportive she let me away with nothing. She helped me to put myself in other people's shoes which made me a better manager.

Loves: Singing in the Rock Choir

Experience & Qualifications: Primarily my career has been Public Sector where I had a variety of different roles - Training Manager, Human Resources Manager, Project Manager, Programme Office Manager, Contact Centre Manager of a 600 seater Contact Centre. The part of these jobs I enjoyed most was helping people overcome barriers and achieve their goals. I’m an INLPTA NLP Trainer and Master Practitioner and run my own private Coaching Practice as well as training NLP in Scotland.

Becky Mahoney

Becky Mahoney

Consultant

Life Motto: ‘Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire’

First Job: Working after college at a toy retailer at Christmas. I was responsible for the Lego section and this is what started my passion/obsession/love of Lego and I still collect it to this day! It reminds me that I’m still a big kid!

Best Boss: John who was one of my first managers. He was passionate about what he did, fair and happy to roll his sleeves up and get involved when needed. He showed me how to be a great leader and supported me at the start of my journey to become a trainer. Most importantly I learned very early in my career that working hard and having fun are not mutually exclusive.

Loves: I love cooking, learning about world food and experiencing great food, landscape photography and travelling (as it gives me the opportunity to the first two!)

Experience & Qualifications: After 8 years working in Sales and Training in the Retail sector, I spent 2 years in France working in International Training, Change Management and Lean for HR in the Aerospace High Technology & Engineering Sector. Then returned to the UK and continued in above role and recruitment team management for Aerospace & Defence sector. I am an INLPTA accredited NLP Trainer and qualified Coach Practitioner and now running my own training and coaching practice in Bristol

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