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  • Claire Gray

A year in the making...

Updated: Mar 20

If you have watched any documentary or interview of an astronaut who has been into space, they will tell you that their focus was about heading to the moon and into outer space. It is not until they are up in space that they realise that the most profound experience is looking back on Earth. Although I cannot exactly claim that the last year creating Forte can compare to a moon landing, it has taught me a lot about perspective and given me the opportunity to reaffirm who I am and what I am here for.



In November 2018, I started theHRpartner, a HR consultancy for small to medium sized businesses, and at the same time I joined a program called Ulab being run by MIT in the USA, to help grow my consultancy. What emerged for me through this program was that I wanted to influence the education system for the new economy. I knew I needed to find a network of people who were passionate about this change, so I got out and started talking to people. Over the next 5 months, it became my passion project, and the idea evolved to combine strengths, career coaching and soft skills development that was not taught at school for youth.


In March 2019, on my next work trip to Melbourne I met with Toni Jones, introduced to me by an old colleague, who worked as a strengths based coach at Torrens University. There was an instant connection between us and we immediately knew that we wanted to do something together to disrupt the education system. We both felt strongly that the current system was not preparing youth for the future of work and we believed that something needed to be done. The discussion jumped from the fact that the education system was still teaching our children the way in which they had been taught in the industrial revolution, to how we could use adult career coaching techniques for youth.


After this first meeting, we set up weekly video call to catch up and discuss our ideas. Excitement grew as our ideas formulated into a business concept, and at our decision to enrol into the Northern Rivers Sourdough Business Pathways Pre-Accelerator Program in an effort to kick start our idea. During the 8 week program, we went through the motions of seeking customer feedback and testing the idea on anyone that would listen. What we discovered surprised us both - not only were youth feeling directionless and unsupported to make decisions about their future, so too were adults. People at all stages of their life were feeling stuck, working in meaningless jobs, and unsure how to develop fundamental soft skills.


Twelve months after that first meeting we are now ready to launch Forte. After a year of discussions, questions, brainstorming, meetings with mentors, a pre-accelerator course, hours spent developing content, multiple flights between Byron Bay and Melbourne, and hundreds of hours on Zoom, we are now ready to bring our talents to help others. Forte has pivoted to offer organisations, individuals and schools the soft skills for the future of work. The reality is we have listened to what people need and are asking for, and have created interactive, personable courses and coaching to build the relevant skills we all need for the future.


Forte’s vision is to create a purposeful and meaningful future so that everyone can live their best lives. They do this by equipping people with the essential social, emotional and critical skills needed for the future.


Written by Claire Gray, Co-Founder Forte

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