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  • Catherine Hodgson

Certified Forum Facilitator Spotlight: Catherine Hodgson

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

If you have been involved in YPO Mentoring at all, there’s a good chance you recognize Catherine Hodgson’s name (YPO Cape Town Gold).

A member since 2009, Catherine joined the organization seeking a community of contemporaries.

“I was at a point in my career where I had hit a brick wall" she says. “I had been running my business with my husband for 14 years and just felt I wasn't learning anymore. I was eager for knowledge and growth.”

She immediately embraced her new YPO community and looked to get involved quickly and make a difference.

First stop: mentoring

A self-described “all in, boots and all” type, she participated in one of the first YPO mentoring pilots in Cape Town, later becoming a chapter mentoring officer and then Africa regional mentoring officer. Realizing she had more to learn about how to mentor, she sought experts around the world, then went on to develop mentoring training materials for YPO and held YPO’s first mentoring training workshop.

From 2012-2018 she served as YPO Global Mentoring Chair on two international committees, rolling out the YPO Mentoring program to chapters around the world, developing and launching Mentoring Masterclasses, an online mentoring platform, YPO MentorCloud, and training mentoring facilitators and mentoring officers. In 2017 she developed a mentoring model, the Catherine Wheel, which has been adopted by YPO as our mentoring model.

A natural next step: CFF

Not one to shy away from leadership positions or challenges, Catherine undertook the grueling challenge to become a Certified Forum Facilitator (CFF), a feat that felt like a long time coming.

“I would get asked to run Mentoring Masterclass, and they’d say, ‘Oh, can you run forum training too?’ They’d just assume I was a forum facilitator,” she says.

Catherine started having real discussions about becoming a CFF. With her experience facilitating and running mentoring workshops, it was a natural progression.

“I always love to learn. I had become a coach, was certified in Conversational Intelligence and of course, deeply involved with mentoring, but I knew there would be more opportunities to broaden my scope of working knowledge,” Catherine says. “Also, there was the access to the CFF community; with the high caliber of existing CFFs, being part of that community was a big driver.”

Still with all her experience, CFF training was a challenge. In fact, she wasn’t accepted into training until her second try.

“It took a lot of strength and courage, as well as putting my ego aside to go for it again,” she says. Once in, it didn’t get easier. “It was humbling because the feedback was so honest. And you have to take it as feedback that you can learn from and improve on, rather than take it too personally and walk away,” she says.

But the experience has been invaluable, she says, with CFF training giving her better insight into forum.

“The number of tools and materials available is incredible. For me, it was like opening a candy box. These tools can really rejuvenate your forum,” she says.

She takes her CFF knowledge into her own forum, but she tries to remove her “CFF hat” and participate as a member ready to contribute, not criticize. Still, she is excited to suggest tools or exercises that will enrich her forum.

She also sees more clearly how mentoring and forum can work in tangent.

“Often in forum, members can be dealing with issues and sometimes they aren't moving forward. There's only so many times that you can bring the same issue to your forum, only so much time you can spend on it, and only so much experience your forum members can share with you,” she says. “And if you’re not moving forward, you, and the whole forum, are stuck,”

That's when forum dovetails into mentoring she says. With mentoring you can find someone who has been on the journey you’re embarking on and guide you on how to move forward.

“Seeing that person go through this metamorphosis and transformation through mentoring and then come back with results is so wonderful to see. That’s where that dovetailing is very good and strong,” she adds.

Her next chapter

Up next, Catherine will be launching a book – her first – focused on mentoring.

“It’s a mentoring roadmap and the ultimate guide for mentors and mentees. It's a deep dive into mentoring, taking them on a journey on how to get the most out of their mentoring relationship and sharing stories I’ve picked up along the way. It’s comprehensive, but still chatty and light,” she says. “Writing a book has been a lifelong dream of mine, so I’m very excited about it. It’s my contribution to the world.”

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