Maria Dinu – Life Coach Romania

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From:  Romania
Website:  Life Tool Kit

My journey as a coach began some 7 years ago, as I was still a student. Part of a well known, worldwide student organization, I met young people, students like me, who were trainers on Personal Development. I was fascinated by the learning process and how skills can form in just a few days. I decided I wanted to fuel this learning process, so I became a trainer.    I loved the energy in the room when a learning process unfolds. The way people come to you at the end and tell you that you made a difference to them.

After a year or so of training, I participated to a Human Resources School for students. There, I met a coach, who did a 1.5 hour impromptu coaching with us, 20 students who were baffled by the intensity of the process.

She said “Coaching is the art of letting the client come with his own solutions. You don’t tell, you ask questions.” We asked: “But how does it work?”  She answered: “How do you think it works?”  I think there were about 20 “A-ha!” and at the end of it, I knew this was what I wanted to do as a job.

So I studied everything I could lay my hands on regarding coaching. I found ways to apply it in my student organization. They tell me that my coaching system is still used for new members. And people started to come and ask me about what coaching means and how it works.

I finished university and got hired. And started a full time job, in  Human Resources Consulting. I was convinced that I was too young to do “real” coaching and that I had to first grow in the corporate world.  I learned a lot in Consulting. Then I moved on to one of the best companies in the world, a multinational, where I had my breakthrough.

I became a leader, had an extraordinary career and grew to be very appreciated.   And yet, I was not completely happy.  So I asked myself: “What do I really want to do?”

My plan had been to learn and experience the corporate world, so that I have some hands-on experience as a coach. After all, how could I coach people while knowing nothing about management?  But then, I realized, what am I waiting for?

The ability to coach doesn’t come from management experience. It comes from actually doing the coaching. And after realizing this answer, I looked for coaching schools and enrolled to the one that “clicked” with me and where I found an actual person who responded to my emails, who called me and showed genuine interest for my development.
I created a personal development blog and website that’s being read by more and more people every day. I love the internationalism and the exchange of ideas. And I feel I’m on my own road, that’s unfolding as I go.

How are you using coaching to make a difference?:

My first coaching program was designed for a student organization and incorporated in an induction program. You’d have to understand that coaching was not very popular in Romania, in 2003. The first time someone ever mentioned the term to me had been that year. And there I was, trying to get some students to apply coaching techniques! I was responsible with Human Resources and People Development in a 50+ members student organization. They would recruit about 30 new members each fall, who would undergo an induction process and later enter departments (yes, just like departments in a company) to do actual work. We had previously applied a Buddy system for the newcomers. And I thought – what if these Buddies would be actual coaches for the new members? I remember how puzzled I had been – first year in college, wanting to volunteer but having no idea where I’d fit in. Not knowing my strengths, not knowing what I would like. Yes, coaching would work. So I gathered up a team of 6 people. Trained them on coaching and told them the basics. Then each coach would meet up with his “newies” and help them pick their area of interest. Then, we brought it further. We helped newies set strenghts. We help them set goals. And 6 months down the road, those goals would be measured. This became part of the Performance Evaluation process. And the coaching system is still used now. Now, looking back, I realize most big companies don’t have such a process. And we, 20 year old students, made it happen. Coaching is exactly about this – trust, encouragement, breaking limits. And the support to make it all happen.

What was the most valuable thing you learned at ICA?:

Six months ago, when I was researching for coaching schools, I looked around. I asked experienced coaches and roamed the Internet. I knew of 2 international schools, but wasn’t quite clear on how the teleclass system works. Then there were local schools, but somehow I didn’t click with the coaches running them. I found about ICA through the link on a Romanian coach’s website. I did the same thing as with the other schools – wrote an email asking about schedule, content and of course pricing. What made a difference was that I got a call back, not just an email, from someone who seemed genuinely interested about me and why I wanted to become a coach. This was not just a “give us your money, we’ll give you a diploma” type of school. Then I read the course curriculum and some white papers. I had read a lot about coaching, I was just missing the experience. And through those pages I found a lot of my own ideas and beliefs, put on paper. So it was obvious – we had a match. Then I was thrilled by the international community. Working in a multinational, and dreaming of working on a global level, I loved to see responses from all parts of the world. I loved it when we connected at the beginning of each teleclass: “Hi, this is Sarah from New York”, “Hi, this is Juan from Barcelona”, “Hi, this is Claudia from Germany”, “This is Lin from Hong Kong”. “This is Maria from Bucharest.” I learned 2 things so far:

  1. To really, genuinely, profoundly, LISTEN. This is determined both by the fact that during teleclasses, you need to really be there and listen to what’s being said, and also by the cultural differences. I knew this from my coaching background reading, but now I really started to suspend my judgment and leave it aside.
  2. How much VALUE comes from DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS. And yet, how very similar we are. We come from different parts of the worlds. We each have our histories and our own experiences. We work with different kinds of people. Yet we’re all passionate about development and this “Unity in Diversity” is what brings so much value during each call. I take what I learn in this kaleidoscope and translate it into my culture. The result is rich and full of value.