As a coach, I’ve been in several different coaching groups over the years to differing effects.
Recently Heather Markel contacted me and said she was creating The Expat Coach Directory and The Expat Coach Association. I thought great. finally a like minded group of coaches with which to network, share my learning and seek support from and show the professional range of skills, qualities and experiences of coaches in this niche to a global community. Within weeks of joining I was excited at the potential of the groups and the coaches within it! WOW! And Heather, what a dynamo!
Having gotten to know Heather a little, in the last couple of months and see how much the Directory and Association are developing and so rapidly, I thought that there was an opportunity to showcase Heather as a coach and The Expat Coach Directory and The Expat Coach Association and find out why she had gone to such great effort to create these groups. We discussed a great range of areas and Heather was amazed at how the questions got her thinking and moved her forward into a new stage of development for both The Expat Coach Directory and The Expat Coach Association.
I’ve decided to split the interview up into 3 blogs as I want to keep them sharp and punchy and you the reader involved and wanting to know more! I hope this works especially as if you’re interested in this area of Coaching or an Expat or Expat service provider these interviews will inform you a little more about what Expat Coaching is, its benefits, the new group’s roles and possibly you may wish to become involved further.
So for starters – WHO IS HEATHER MARKEL and HOW HAS SHE BECOME INVOLVED IN THE EXPAT WORLD AND EXPAT COACHING?
1. FIRSTLY HEATHER, COULD YOU GIVE A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY ABOUT YOURSELF IN LIFE AND WORK, WHERE YOU ARE BASED, YOUR COACHING BACKGROUND/TRAINING?
I am a Native New Yorker who developed a zest for all things international after my first journey to France as a teenager. With nothing more than high school French under my belt, I became part of a new family, complete with 8 siblings, and a herd of cows, one of whom followed me around like an overgrown pet puppy! That experience began what is now my passion for discovering international cultures, learning foreign languages, and meeting people from diverse cultures. I went on to live, work, and study in 4 countries.
I have 18 years corporate experience in sales, marketing and customer service – working for several multinational companies – some of which was overseas. When I worked in New York, most of that career was alongside Expats, with whom I shared a deep bond, and with whom I remain close friends today.
I have a BA in International Relations from The George Washington University, and I am a Certified Professional Coach. I received my certification from Leadership That Works, an ICF-accredited program.
2. WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO COACHING AND SPECIFICALLY EXPATRIATE (EXPAT) COACHING?
My experiences overseas, combined with the close bond I feel to people from other cultures is what fostered my desire to work with this community. Coaching is, quite simply, my deep passion in life. When I walked into the introductory session of my program, it was as if a beam of light shone through my body and illuminated all my chakras! I knew I had to be there, and becoming trained as a coach is one of the achievements I am most proud of in my life. I have always enjoyed helping people, and am simply in love with the transformational process that coaching brings about – both in my clients and in me.
3. CAN YOU DESCRIBE (FOR THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW) WHAT EXPATRIATE COACHING IS ABOUT? WHY WOULD AN EXPAT NEED COACHING?
Expatriate coaching is a division of coaching that focuses specifically on clients who will move overseas, or have already done so and are caught between cultures. The nature of Expatriate Coaching is to help these clients to adapt to very different cultures, which can include different social norms, a different language, culture shock, professional obstacles, and more. Though the word “Expatriate” refers mainly to a person who relocates for work, Expatriate coaches often work with trailing spouses and kids (often Third Culture Kids) who will be going through another set of adjustments. At a very high level, some of the reasons an Expat might need coaching are:
• Preparing for or overcoming culture shock
• Avoiding or overcoming possible isolation and fear pertaining to the relocation process
• Aligning personal and family goals before and during the relocation experience
• Support in making new friends and establishing a new life
• Adjusting to a new professional system and professional behaviors that are dramatically different than the culture in which the Expat is from.
This is not at all a full list! Just an overview of some of the starting reasons an Expat might need coaching. It’s also ideal that an Expatriate start working with a coach BEFORE they relocate – in this way, they arrive with some preparation that can make the transition less shocking.
4. WHAT IN YOUR PAST HELPS OR ENHANCES YOUR COACHING WORK?
The things in my past that I feel enhance my coaching are:
• Personal experience adjusting to foreign cultures
• Working alongside other Expatriates and helping them adapt and adjust to their new lives
• Speaking 6 languages, understanding the frustration of NOT being able to communicate in a foreign place
• Corporate experience in both American and International companies – understanding the different types of work cultures and work styles that can be prevalent even when working for the same company in a different country
• Ability to meet new people and make new friends with ease – something I like to work with clients on in particular
5. WHEN HAVE YOU KNOWN YOU’VE MADE A REAL DIFFERENCE TO AN EXPAT’S EXPERIENCE THROUGH YOUR COACHING?
When they tell me! LOL. You know, the answer is really different for each client. I think one of my most favorite examples is a client who insisted she couldn’t speak the local language, and felt she didn’t want to spend too much time outside her apartment. Then, one day, I learned she had held a conversation in a restaurant with a complete stranger, in the host country language, for the better part of an hour! When I reflected that back to her, I think she suddenly realized she had made some progress!
I’d say, most often, the difference I’m helping make with clients is to point them towards the progress and accomplishment they are not seeing. It seems to dramatically boost confidence. The other difference I believe I make for my clients is to help with ideas/outside-the-box thinking to resolve the problems they are facing.
For further information on The Expat Coach Directory and becoming a member or finding a coach who can help you or your organisation
For further information on The Expat Coach Association and becoming a member http://theexpatcoachassociation.ning.com/