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Mike Zani, CEMBA '13

Aug 19 2012

And The Experiences Just Keep On Coming

Mike Zani, CEMBA '13

Before anything this Sunday evening, I must first “own up”.  I have completely slacked in the frequency of my blogging.  As Gus “The Angry Greek” Maimis (one of our esteemed class members) would say, “Michael, three months?  Really?”  Yeah seriously, that’s exactly what he’d say.  I’d tell you to ask him but he’s in Sri Lanka with his study team on his Global Business Project (GBP).  We’ll talk about GBP another time.  Actually, Gus isn’t even all that angry (usually), but the nickname has stuck within our class, and I honestly just felt like calling him out for no apparent reason.

What I really wanted to share with you today was my recent experience with the personalized coaching pilot that Laurie Sedgwick, Senior Associate Director of Career Management Center, put into motion.  By now, you have most likely heard both my friend Joe Irineo and myself, blog about the experiences of the EMBA student, and there is so much more to experience.  BTW, for a brilliant depiction of a typical weekend life of the CEMBA student, you must read Joe’s last blog here: EMBA Weekend.

Just recently, there was one other experience I had the privilege of participating in, and that was the Executive Coaching Pilot for both CEMBA & CQEMBA.  The pilot program, led by Valia Glytsis and Tanya Ezekiel of, was even highlighted in the Wall Street Journal back in June WSJ Article Here, as various programs are now looking for new ways of differentiating themselves to the discerning prospective EMBA student.  When the pilot was looking for candidates to participate (about 12 in total), I jumped on the opportunity.  This may have been the best academia-related experience I have had to date since being in the program.

Coaching, you ask?  No matter how good you may think you are, everyone needs coaching.  Derek Jeter, Michael Jordan, Tim Tebow, everyone needs coaching.  OK, so Tebow needs A LOT of coaching, but you get my point.  The pilot spanned over a 3 month period that started out with an Energy Leadership assessment.  From there we held multiple individual and group coaching sessions.  Our group sessions were based around a specific theme, all in the spirit of becoming a great leader.  It was interesting to see that in a group of highly charged EMBAs, we all seemed to share the same perceived obstacles to our professional (and sometimes personal) happiness and satisfaction.  Being in a controlled environment, and realizing that you are not the only one with certain perceptions, even self-doubts, made for a comforting setting.

As the weeks and session went on, we were asked to open up more so that we could work to identify the root of some issues possibly blocking us from growing as leaders.  We did this both within group and individual sessions.  For me personally, I began to see the value immediately.  Even as the weeks went on and my comfort level in sharing heightened, my personal coach Valia, would continue to push and challenge me to come to new perspectives.  At times my individual sessions were almost like a shrink session!  Yet I really felt I had someone there who I could trust, really open up to, and help me find the mental blocks that were keeping me from realizing my potential.

Now here’s the kicker in all this…  In the last few weeks I landed a very desirable position with a new company.  I can honestly say that if I had not 1) decided to enter the EMBA program and 2) had THIS coaching experience, I may not have had the confidence to capture this opportunity.  I can say that in all honesty.

THESE are the learning experiences that executive level professionals crave and that help us become better leaders.   Whether or not the coaching pilot becomes a full time addition to the EMBA program is not for me to decide, but I certainly hope it does.  The fact that Johnson was even willing to make the leap into this pilot should indicate the level of commitment the school has in making you the best leader you can be.

To Laurie & Johnson, Thank You for putting this pilot in motion.  If it becomes part of the program or not, just know that it helped one guy out tremendously, and has been one of my program highlights to date.

Total: 2 Comment(s)
Joe Irineo
  Great post, Mike. The coaching and career counseling that the Johnson School provides is truly one of the "value-adds" that differentiates this Executive program from some of the others. As you know, the typical Executive MBA candidate is now looking to leverage this graduate degree for a career change or as a propeller in their current jobs. The coaching provided by this program helps us to reach our goals.

By the way - I just got back from Sri Lanka with our buddy Gus and I can attest to the fact that he would definitely have called you out exactly as you had mentioned! Good times.
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