Engineering Manager at Dell
Engineering Manager at Dell. Pierre has recently completed his third and final diploma, the Diploma in Business & Executive Coaching, as part of his MSc Business (Leadership and Management Practice) pathway.
Share with us your background!
I am an Engineer and I moved to Ireland 20 years ago; back then my mathematical background helped me to find a space in the emerging internet security space. Since then, I have held various leadership positions in the tech sector. My wife, Aileen is Irish, and we have two grownup kids. I like to cook for my family, and I enjoy training and participating in triathlons.
What made you decide on the Diploma in Business & Executive Coaching programme at Smurfit Executive Development?
I had an interest in organisation development for a long time, though I never managed to undertake a comprehensive programme. During that time, my interest grew for the programmes at Smurfit Executive Development, but life was too busy. Then in 2017, things took an unexpected turn and took this as an opportunity to start an MSc in Smurfit, with the objective to make the Business & Executive Coaching programme part of it.
What were your expectations before you started the programme?
I started the MSc in Business (Leadership & Management Practice) with the Diploma in Strategy, Development & Innovation followed by the Diploma in Business Finance. Thanks to these, I had the opportunity to discuss the Business & Executive Coaching programme with other students who had done it. I volunteered to be a coachee and I had an insightful conversation with Colm Murphy the programme director. So, I had some expectations, that it would have some academic content and it would be very different from the other diplomas, with a lot more practice and personal work on myself, not just reflection.
Did the programme meet or exceed your expectations?
Absolutely, it went beyond! From the very start, you are put into a coach role, first with the other participants then with external coachees. It is very challenging and transformational.
How has the Diploma in Business & Executive Coaching changed your perspectives/outlook towards life?
It has changed a lot. The diploma is about skills development and I learned a lot about coaching skills – noticing behaviours: building awareness and self-acceptance and most importantly, listening. It is almost inevitable, that when you go to a particular sitaution, over and over again by yourself or with a coachee, you learn a lot, and this changes perspectives/outlook towards life.
How has the Diploma in Business & Executive Coaching helped you in your career?
It has in many ways, not necessarily the expected ones, the cliché such as "leader as a coach", "climbing the ladder" etc. It has given me a different perspective on accepting what I cannot control and choosing to act on what I can influence, even when this puts me out of my comfort zone.
What is the most important lesson you have gotten out of the programme?
It is a good, hard question. The presumptuous answer is that the lesson is that there is not a single most important lesson. The beneficial answer for me is a better understanding of change: its phases (Prochaska and DiClemente) and resistance to change (Harvey and Broyles).
What was one particular module that made the greatest impact on you?
The last one, because the pandemic had been such a shock. It has been difficult to be online for module 4 and 5, and for most of the coaching practice; so, it was such a relief and a pleasure to be back together onsite for the last module. Also, we touch on the resistance to change in that module.
What advice would you give to people out there who are interested in the programme?
I will share my own story, talk with past participants and offer to be a coachee for a trainee coach. People can then decide to take it as an advice or not.
How has the Diploma in Business & Executive Coaching programme changed your perspectives?
Not only has it changed my perspectives, but it has also given me tools to help me and help others to become aware of different perspectives. Perspectives go back to Plato's cavern, the coaching tools helped to see the perspectives from the prisoner inside, the people outside.
What advice would you give potential Diploma in Business & Executive Coaching participants?
Be curious, practice, be supervised, reflect; repeat as many times as possible during the programme.
How would you describe the connection and learning between participants?
You cannot go through that programme without a supportive group of participants, every single one has given me something during that programme: a reference for a coachee, an idea for an assignment, some coaching practice, feedback. I have wonderful memories of the times we shared together, not always easy moments but always precious.
Why would you recommend the programme to a friend or colleague?
The main reasons to recommend it is its quality, it is comprehensive (academic work, individual practice, learning group, supervision) and the competency and background of the instructors and facilitators is top class. Not least this is recognised by the EMCC practitioner accreditation, that can be obtained as part of the group.
How has the programme influenced your leadership style and impact?
I hope that I am more open to facilitate people to express themselves and share their perspective, and also more effective in getting people in my teams and around it to engage themselves in what we and they decide to do. Also, I think I am approaching the so called "difficult conversation" in a different way.
How has the programme influenced your personal and organisational approach to coaching?
Many leaders, and I was one of them, think they can be a coach. Anyone can claim to be a coach, as unfortunately it is not a regulated profession. The reality, coaching is hard, and coaches cannot ask from coachees to do work that coaches are not prepared to do on themselves. Yet, it happens all the time in the workplace, as I have heard "let's coach them into it". Now, that I have done the programme I am much more sensitive to this, and to just mention an example paying attention to basics like the coaching contract.