What do a landscape architect from China, an Israeli judge, a Lebanese opera singer, a civil engineer with a major in hydrotechnics, and a professional conference interpreter have in common? They are all participants in IMFFA’s 2016/17 executive coaching program!
With backgrounds from law, to performing arts, to financial management, and hailing from more than a dozen different countries around the world, IMFFA’s new 2016/17 Executive Coaching cohort is a diverse bunch! They were lively and engaged when they gathered on Wednesday, November 30 to meet one another and talk about the benefits they hope to gain from executive coaching. Although their professional backgrounds and years of experience varied widely, they were united by a single goal – to explore their professional potential with a view to relaunching or redirecting their career in the US.
Why did they join the program?
When asked about their motivation for participating in the program, candidates gave a variety of reasons. Some were newly arrived in the US, and considering whether it made sense to try to find work in their professional area in light of the certification or local registration requirements, and their lack of local networks. Others were unsure about how long they would be staying in the US, or their ability to conduct technical conversations in their professional field in English. Another key consideration was family status. Some candidates were looking for more family-friendly options than their previous careers provided, or to return to the full-time workforce after taking a break to raise a family.
How is the program funded? How does it work?
Although their motivations were varied, all the candidates were committed to gaining as much as possible from the program. First launched in 2011, the IMFFA coaching program was put on ice in 2015/16 due to a change in funding arrangements, but a generous grant from the Bank-Fund Staff Federal Credit Union has allowed IMFFA to rekindle it. Participants contribute a modest co-pay to join.
The program kicks off with the two-hour interactive workshop mentioned above, led by Sheila McKenna, IMF’s spouse career advisor. Candidates then receive five hours of one-on-one coaching from a qualified executive coach who undergoes rigorous screening to evaluate their experience with international clients and determine their suitability for inclusion. For 2016/17, we are fortunate to have the services of seven highly qualified coaches, all credentialed by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) or a similar leading professional coaching authority.
Each of this year’s 17 participants has been carefully matched with a coach whose gender, background, coaching style, and even language skills correspond as closely as possible to those requested by the candidate. Candidates meet their coach in person for the first session; follow-up sessions are conducted in person or over the phone, whichever is more convenient for the coach and candidate.
Will Coaching Find Me a Job?
Feedback from previous coaching programs was thoughtfully reviewed before IMFFA relaunched the program. In previous years, although members enthusiastically embraced the program, some expressed dissatisfaction that they did not come out of it with a job. For this reason, at the kick-off workshop, Sheila took considerable time to explain what participants should expect from the program, and how best to make it work for them. She emphasized that, while professional coaching can bring many wonderful benefits such as fresh perspectives on personal challenges, enhanced decision-making skills, greater interpersonal effectiveness, and increased confidence, it is not a job search service. However, although they may not come out of it with a guaranteed paycheck, those who undertake coaching can expect to be more productive, have greater satisfaction with life and work, establish professional goals and make significant progress towards achieving them.
This year’s participants left the kick-off meeting fired up with enthusiasm and excited to meet their assigned coaches. Chronicles plans to check back in with them as they wrap up their coaching sessions in April 2017, to find out what insights they have gained from the program and how it has changed their outlook on career and professional direction, whether in agricultural economics, law or architecture. Watch this space!
If you would like to apply for a future IMFFA coaching program, or have any questions about the program, please contact the author, Suzette Bradbury, IMFFA Career and Networking Chair at email@example.com.