Noel Clerkin is Director and Head of Resilience and Performance at the innovative leadership development consultancy, WiserWorking.

Noel Clerkin laptop

Noel helps leaders to create the conditions to grow their businesses in a sustainable way. He believes this is possible when leaders can manage their stress levels and set their people up to succeed.

I love the tagline on the WiserWorking website:

Tough Times Don’t Last. Resilient Companies Do.

The future of your organisation depends on how well your employees can handle the challenges they face.

Helping them to maintain good energy levels and to stay focused, has never been more important.

Wiser Working’s Performance Resilience model, CORE , equips them with a science-backed approach to building resilience and to keep performing under pressure.

In this quick Q&A, Noel kindly shares how he is busy growing a successful HR consultancy.

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Over to you, Noel!

What’s your background? How did you get into the business?

I started out in investment banking and financial information services in Dublin, London and New York. When I was in New York I was pretty stressed and burnt out. I had the feeling that I needed to shift my career direction and I took 6 months out to travel in South America. Sabbaticals were frowned upon back then but I knew I had to get a break and take some time to think rather than follow a path that didn’t feel right.

After my travels I heard about coaching and I knew straight away that this was what I wanted to do. That was in 2002 and it was a real ‘lightbulb’ moment. I decided to return to London, sell my apartment and train to become a coach. Coaching was very much in its infancy then. I spent a few years coaching individuals on their career choices before getting into executive coaching and team facilitation.

What does WiserWorking do?

We help people in organisations to perform better under pressure. Our service is a hybrid of leadership development and wellbeing.

WiserWorking logo

One of the problems we address is helping leaders to cope in fast-paced, high pressure industries without getting stressed or burnt out. e.g. professional services, banking or technology. When leaders get stressed, they act like any other humans by making poor decisions or they become defensive and critical. Not great for employee engagement!

Many people struggle to switch off, so we help them to adopt new mindsets and behaviours that support with this.

One of the most compelling things we offer is a heart rate analysis over a 3 day period. Participants wear a heart monitor which tracks their stress, sleep and physical activity. The reports that this process generates really help people to become aware of their stress levels and how little recovery they are getting. They are also fantastic for initiating behaviour change e.g. around email usage, sleep patterns or even alcohol consumption. Usually when we work with participants on a leadership or talent programme, we ask them to do the heart rate analysis as a first step. The vast majority are super keen to try it out and they get great value from it. We do not share individual’s data with their employer but we can provide them with aggregate reports which are very useful to highlight risk factors across groups. The process is also great for identifying people who may be at risk of burnout.

Most organisations only find out about a burnout after the fact and this can be disruptive and costly to their businesses.

How do you structure your services?

We take a consulting approach to find out the pain points and objectives of our clients.

In many cases we can offer an ‘off the shelf’ solution (e.g. heart rate analysis and training workshops).

Bespoke solutions are also possible where we will blend our approach into an existing programme or we will design something specifically for a team off-site.

How did you get your first few clients? What are your main marketing channels for getting new clients now?

Our first two clients were Irish organisations, however we actually first met them at a meet-the-buyer event in Barcelona! The event was expensive for a start up but it has more than paid for itself.

We have also worked with a sales coach who has helped us to hone our message more clearly for certain industries e.g. Law and that has been helpful.

Now we mainly grow through word of mouth referrals.

We have also been organising the DisruptHR event in Belfast, so that has really helped our visibility in Northern Ireland.

What HR changes and challenges do you think HR people and company leaders should be thinking about and what should they be doing about these issues?

I have attended many round-table HR events across Europe over the years and it has been interesting to track the change in themes.

There has been an ongoing theme about HR needing to take a seat at the top table but I think this needs to happen in a more significant way.

I think progressive HR teams can provide massive value and help companies to have an edge over their competitors by attracting, developing and retaining great people.

I still see a lot of risk-averse behaviour from HR teams where they are afraid to back new ideas and also the lead time for implementing new programmes is still very slow. I see businesses that are moving very fast and yet their HR teams taking 12 months to design new programmes and another 12 months to start implementing them. This is too slow in my opinion.

My advice to HR would be to fully recognise the huge opportunity that is in front of them to take the lead in growing their organisations.

I would advise them to think like external consultants and look at the effectiveness of their practices very objectively.

I know there are internal barriers to change and it is not easy to change ingrained ways of working but that is where they need to develop more influencing skills and courage. This is one of the reasons we have gotten involved with DisruptHR, so that we can help HR professionals to think out of the box.

Can you share some tips on interesting people, websites, tools, podcasts, or books to check out to help grow a business faster?

One of the challenges we have faced is how to position our message clearly and then attract new clients. I think it is a common challenge!

For this I would recommend, Storybrand by Donald Miller. I have read many sales books and I like the work of Jill Konrath and Jeb Blount.

What should readers do if they want to know more about you and your business?

The best thing to do is check out our website and drop me a mail at

We are open to running taster sessions also for organisations who want to try out our approach.

Learn more about WiserWorking

Thanks Noel – all the best for your Human Resources business!

To learn more about Noel and his successful leadership development business, visit the WiserWorking website.

Interested in growing an HR business in Europe or elsewhere?

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All the best,

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