From: China, People’s Republic of
Graduated: 2010 - January
Website: Small Steps Coaching
I was working as head of an ngo in Belgium, where I was responsible for restructuring the organization, and felt that I was ready to do something different after finishing that job.I had been a manager for the last nine years and could go on for years leading more ngo’s, but that picture of the future did not inspire me. The part of my job that i liked most was coaching people, listening to their stories and issues, helping them gain clarity on what to do and where to go, be it in their personal or professional life. That’s where I wanted to develop further, but not in Europe. I felt if I wanted to take a new turn in life, I would do it abroad.
So around July 2008, after finishing the reorganization, I resigned, and on October 25th I boarded the train to Beijing with my life partner and 150 kilo’s of luggage, to become a partner in Small Steps Coaching in Beijing.
I had met my current business partner in 2006, when I was in China for a conference on adult education, and that first evening we talked about working together. Her business was in coaching, consulting, CSR projects and adventure trips on the Great Wall and working together seemed like the perfect opportunity at the right time.
A year and a bit later, I’m about to graduate at ICA and working as a personal and professional development coach.
There’s been a lot of change in a short time, and I’m doing what I really want to do, coaching people to perform better, to realize their dreams, to be happier. I’m glad I decided for this profession, as I can take it anywhere with me and time and experience will only make me a better coach. I get to meet lots of different people and enterprises, i’m part of their lives for a while and can make a positive impact on their lives.
How are you using coaching to make a difference?:
Early in the morning of July 3rd 2009 we welcomed a group of 14 Belgian Boy Scouts, 7 boys and 7 girls, at the Beijing international airport on their first time ever in China. They came with a mission: to clean up a river and organize a 2 week summer school at Gangfang primary school in Hebei. After two days in Beijing, we started the project in the village of Bakeshiying with a 3 day hike up and around the Great Wall. During those days they learned about the history of the Great Wall, walked through local villages and gained understanding of local customs. Upon arriving at Gangfang Village we had a group coaching session which results in SMART goals and an action plan for their stay and work in the village. Over the next 12 days we coached the group on the implementation of their action plan: classrooms got painted, a children’s party for the end of the school term was organized, the river got cleaned up from bags upon bags of garbage, there were meetings with village officials and a garbage dump got built. In the evening the schoolyard became the most popular hangout of the village with children, parents and scouts, singing and playing together. Every day we checked in with the groupleaders to evaluate the progress of the project, leading to adjustments of the goals while cooperating with the head of the village and the school master. On the last evening of their stay in the village, there was a campfire and a barbecue to celebrate the success of all the work that had been done. On July 22nd at Beijing airport we said goodbye to a group of tired and very happy scouts, who had learned a lot about themselves and the world they’re in. It was a great experience to coach these young people, see them get out of their comfort zone and accomplishing things they didn’t believe they could do. To see a slideshow of this program please go to http://www.small-steps-coaching.com/news/gangfang-school-project.php
What was the most valuable thing you learned at ICA?:
After comparing several institutions I decided to enroll at ICA because I wanted an online program that I could do anywhere and was looking for a program with an international student population. And i wanted to do it in English. Just after enrolling i started planning my move to China, and so the ICA program became my companion on that journey. I was very lucky to have a wonderful peer coach early on in the program. She was an expat herself and totally understood what I was going through and what the highs and lows on such a journey are. I’m still in contact with her, and she became a friend. For me having a peer coach is one of the best things at ICA, I continued to have one all through the program and will keep on doing so after graduating. I love that feeling of an international community at ICA, lots of people with different stories and experiences, with a lot of room for different opinions and views in mutual respect. For me the ICA program was the vehicle on a journey of change.