Blue Apricot Solutions is a women-owned small business based in Alexandria, Virginia founded in 2002.

  • Guiding Principles

    My interview skills set me apart when it comes to bringing to the surface the strengths, the gaps, the dreams and opportunities to bring about desired change.

    My guiding principles are simple:


    • Trust is fundamental and takes time to build and a minute to break down. Collaboration with the client is high throughout the engagement so two-way lines of communication are strong.
    • Leaders do not lead in a vacuum nor should they be over-relying on any functional expertise: their role is to achieve through others, calling for increasing self-awareness, understanding the ecosystem, appreciating what motivates employees.
    • My role is not about deluging the system with tools and training, but rather to spur the conversations that need to be had to reveal the system to itself. From that awareness comes new creativity, intentional change and renewed commitment.
    • I, too, must be aware – self-aware, grounded, and open to constant learning in support of being an honest broker and bringing clarity about outcome and value.
    • Feedback is an inherent part of what I do; receiving it, giving it, and leveraging it. Some experts describe this as developing a “learning culture” in which everyone is open to change and understanding change is not only inevitable but is best implemented when there is willingness to acknowledge the good the bad and, sometimes, the ugly.
    • Lastly, a firm belief that everyone has the inner resourcefulness to be a better leader, team player, colleague, supervisor, manager, and employee.

  • Caroline G. Nicholl, CEO

    I bring my strong personal drive to work with each client’s unique culture, my on-the-ground executive experience, and cutting edge, world-class tools.

    You started as a student of the Law. Why?

    Since laws touch on virtually every aspect of life, I studied law to understand things from a problem solving perspective: engaging people, developing ideas, and evaluating efforts against specific criteria. But I found that the legal prism was not broad enough vis a vis the diverse challenges people face.  I needed more of an interdisciplinary systems approach through which to identify and resolve problems.


    Why did you turn to police work?

    I signed up for London’s Police to gain hands on experience of the challenges and problems across a large and fast changing city. I soon grasped the impact of perpetual education and wealth gaps. A few years on the beat taught me how entrenched communities can be in their inability to identify and resolve real problems effectively and efficiently. We might have been good at treating the symptoms or reacting to a crisis, but underlying problems were intractable.


    The woman I broke the news to about her husband’s sudden death in a car accident one morning was not simply a new widow. She was left virtually bankrupt after years of his gambling and drinking: we had no solution beyond offering our condolences.


    What was also clear to me was that leadership didn’t look beyond day-to-day management. Yet leadership needs to anticipate what’s around the corner, use finite resources wisely, and make a tangible difference.

    How did you implement what you learned from those experiences?

    When I took a leadership role within the police in Notting Hill, London, a small initiative aimed at understanding the jigsaw puzzle we faced turned out to be a game changer. Every year, this quaint part of inner city London was ripped apart by riots during carnival celebrations that exacerbated the racial divide between white and black residents and business owners.  Traditionally, the police mounted extra patrols, made more arrests (typically among the black community) and underscored tensions in the community.


    In the early 1980’s, I introduced one of the first surveys to gauge public opinion. The findings challenged community assumptions, and brought a fundamental shift in the policing approach. There were no riots the following year.


    As the Chief of Police in the city of Milton Keynes, instead of continuing to process thousands of shoplifters from one of the largest shopping malls in Europe through the justice system, which cost a fortune and yet had little impact on recidivism, I initiated restorative justice dialogues between merchants and offenders, resulting in repeat offending dropping from over 40% to 3.4%.

    How did you come to value this systems approach?

    Gaps in performance, leadership, and problem solving impact public, private, and corporate entities alike.  People want to do a good day’s work but are often stymied by disparate systems and aversions to risks. Every system has an ecosystem with elements that work to make an organization, team, or city either more or less healthy.


    Over the years I have learned the importance of systems thinking as an approach to problem solving that looks at the parts that make up the whole, and their interrelationship.


    How did you move from Police work to your current work?

    The transition from cop to coach was natural: both roles demand an innate curiosity about how things work and what motivates people. I joined the police, like many cops, to make a difference. Today, I bring that same spirit with whomever I work: what is this team or person trying to achieve? What would help to get them there? How can I add real value?


    When I studied law and joined London’s Police, I knew then what I know now: that the world is complicated and changing constantly. I knew I wanted to contribute to changing things for the better. Understanding the part we can play requires us to think beyond today, outside existing bureaucracies and silos, and, at times, outside the constraints of common thinking, or groupthink. I enjoy my work because I learn about the world from people like you as much as I hope you learn from me. I see the world in expansive ways. We can always appreciate what is, and we can also be mindful of the improvements that are possible.  My work centers around being intentional about what progress means.


    Why “Blue Apricot Solutions?”

    I wanted a name that made people stop and think. A blue apricot? With systems thinking, you learn that what’s on the surface is just that. Often the presenting problem (high turnover, poor communications, skyrocketing operations costs) is just a symptom. Teams have their systems with rules and strategy, but the people in those teams bring their own ideas. Combined, these elements create a unique culture.


    My company name reflects my approach: looking at both the hard (systems, structure, rules,) and soft (people, processes) issues and getting them truly aligned. The odd colored fruit is about helping my clients challenge their underlying assumptions, to think outside the box and to embrace change with ingenuity.



    Licenses & Certifications
    International Coaches Federation, PCC
    Shadow Coaching ®Advanced Coach Training
    Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)®, Otto Kroeger Associates
    Team Diagnostic™, Team Coaching International
    BarOn EQi in Emotional Intelligence, Multi Health Systems
    Voices® 360 Korn/Ferry, Lominger
    Reinas Trust Scales™
    Apter Motivational Style Profile (AMSP)® Otto Kroeger Associates
    University of Georgetown, Certificate in Organizational Development
    Coactive Coaching, Coaches Training Institute
    Erickson Certified Professional Coach, Erickson International
    Interpersonal Skills for Leadership Success, National Training Lab
    Conflict Resolution & Mediation, National Association for Community Mediation
    The Practitioners Program for OD Professionals, Columbia, MD

  • BlueApricot Solutions Takes a Different Approach

    There are many consultants and coaches you can draw on for specific characteristics, knowledge and expertise. The decision to hire someone can be a tough one. Most want someone who can be a trusted advisor with answers and expertise not available within the organization or team.

    Blue Apricot Solutions recognizes trust is paramount. The key to building trust involves

    • asking good questions
    • being a great listener who understands what you mean and what concerns you, not simply what you say
    • bringing genuine curiosity to understanding what’s on your plate
    • avoiding getting bogged down in too many details
    • helping you to advance your awareness, thinking and goal achievement.

    My background as a beat cop and police chief provides me with a different kind of training, and I continue to invest in my own professional development in Organizational Development and coaching extensively. No one survives the beat without active listening, without properly scanning the situation, without connecting to those involved.


    I will listen to you and your team, and observe your operations—not unlike how I responded to calls on the beat. I will ask the right questions, I will listen and not just tell, I will provide insights and help you to see the wood for the trees. I will help you find solutions and strategies to get you from where you are to where you want to be.


    My approach:

    • Utilizes tried and tested discovery skills rather than academic concepts to understand your world and your worldview
    • Builds on your knowledge and experience by giving you actionable feedback and enabling solutions from fresh insights
    • Facilitates dialogue to unearth hidden ideas, opinions and potential obstacles to growth, implementation and success
    • Leverages untapped potential
    • Helps you anticipate change and then manage it
    • Offers a lasting impact that brings positive results


    We’ll Start with Discovery

    I have a succinct, methodical process. Working with you and your team, I discern the gap between what changes we identify together, and what ability you have to manage needed changes.


    You’ll Be Ready for Changes

    By focusing on current and anticipated challenges and opportunities, we can better understand the drivers of change in your organization. I may begin my work with the organizational leaders, adding relevant perspectives from key stakeholders across your organization. Understanding the gap between the desired future state and your current state helps to identify – and act on – the catalysts and resistance to valuable change.


    What I offer you

    • Strong interview skills and discovery work which build trust and rapport
    • Reliable assessment of the key variables that help or hinder growth
    • Unvarnished and fair feedback to highlight and develop your strengths
    • Collaboration with you, honoring where you are
    • Engage you in every step of the process so you and I are working as a team
    • A systems approach – an understanding and synthesis of how everything is connected


    Let’s explore where there’s a fit

  • Affiliations

    Professional organizations help to develop my services while I learn more about trends and challenges facing leaders and teams. Peer learning helps ensure that my learning never ends.

    VISTAGE – For CEOS, Executives & Business Owners

    Since 2006, I have served as a Chair Facilitator & Coach for Vistage International, the largest CEO membership organization in the world. Vistage offers professionally facilitated peer groups for leaders to delve into challenges and opportunities. The peer group acts as an informal board of advisors enabling members to dig into important issues. You will gain different perspectives and tools to become a more effective leader. The Group provides a place where leaders can come and just be themselves sharing concerns, ideas, perspectives and resources. The Group checks progress and ensures forward action and accountability.


    If you are interested in learning about my Vistage Group, and if this might be a good fit, please contact me. www.vistage.com








    For more information on the Vistage Group Experience:


    National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce

    The NGLCC, founded in 2002, advocates for LGBT diversity and inclusion and has successfully established building blocks for LGBT-owned businesses to do business with the Government and Corporations with supplier diversity programs. Blue Apricot Solutions was one of the first certified LGBT Business Enterprises, reflecting the commitment to contribute to the community and building relationships with some of America’s leading corporations.