I recently blogged Part 1 of my interview with Heather Markel, Founder of The Expat Coach Directory and The Expat Coach Association. Part 2 looks in more detail at the creation of the 2 groups, the Coaches involved and how the Directory and Association can interact to benefit Expatriates, Expatriate Employers and Expatriate Service Providers.
1. HEATHER, WHAT EXCITES YOU ABOUT WORKING WITHIN THE EXPAT ENVIRONMENT? WHY?
What excites me about working with the Expat environment is the connection I feel to it. It brings forth all the fond memories I have of past experiences, and my current zest for travel and all things foreign. It’s about connection, inspiration, and reflection. (NICOLA: I feel similarly Heather, as I believe do many other Expat Coaches!)
2. WHAT IS THE OPPORTUNITY YOU’VE SEEN THAT LED YOU TO CREATE THE EXPAT COACH DIRECTORY AND ASSOCIATION?
I was meeting a lot of people – in passing, at networking events, etc – and when I told them what I do, they would all say, “Wow, that’s fascinating! I’ve never met anyone that does what you do.” I realized I am not the only one that does this work, and felt a need to bring more awareness to our work on a grander scale. I also attended the FIGT conference this year, where I met Sarah De Hayes and Andrew Miser, both of whom helped reinforce and flesh out the many obstacles we share in being more effective collaborating with corporations. The three of us discussed “starting a revolution”, so I suggested creating a place to gather, and voila!, the Expat Coach Association was formed. While the Association is a gathering place, I saw the need to help people find us – our businesses – in particular. So, I created the Directory as the external piece of our work – the place I hope will become a single point of reference for businesses and individuals to find an Expat Coach for their needs.
3. WHEN DID YOU LAUNCH THE EXPAT COACH DIRECTORY? AND THE ASSOCIATION?
The Association and Directory were both launched in March of this year (2010).
4. HOW MANY MEMBERS DO THEY HAVE? WHAT HAS BEEN THE INTEREST OR RESPONSE TO THE GROUPS FROM COACHES, ORGANISATIONS AND THE EXPATRIATE WORLD?
We have about 60 members in the Association, and 33 on the Directory (as at May 2010). Coaches seem to feel very excited about the opportunity to come together with other like-minded people, and about the knowledge-sharing that’s being fostered in our community. We are fairly new to reaching organizations and expatriates, but our members are being very helpful in spreading the word about the Directory so I am hopeful we will be getting a lot more exposure in the near future. Preliminary feedback from partners we have reached out to has been that the Directory is a great idea.
5. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE EXPAT COACH DIRECTORY AND THE EXPAT COACH ASSOCIATION?
The Association is our internal gathering place – the place we come together as coaches to discuss industry needs and gaps, how to bridge them, and make plans to be more known in the world. The Directory is our external face – the place where we help businesses and individuals in need of our services to find us.
6. WHAT CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT THE COACHES IN THE EXPATRIATE COACH DIRECTORY/ ASSOCIATION?
The members of our Association and Directory are from many different countries and cultures, which I think is a fantastic blend. Also, within the “Expat Coach” specialty, we even have specialties beyond that! People who work, for example, with Trailing Spouses, focus on life issues, career issues, etc. So, it feels like whatever a clients’ need within the umbrella of Expat Coaching, someone exists to meet that need. I hope I’m not infringing on the Apple slogan here, but it’s like, “Whatever you need as an Expat, there’s a Coach for it!”
7. DO YOU HAVE A MINIMUM ENTRY REQUIREMENT? DO YOU QUALITY ASSURE THAT THEY ARE CAPABLE COACHES?
There is no minimum entry requirement for the Association. The idea is to attract coaches and partners who have a vested interest in our success to come together. The Directory, however, has one base requirement at the moment. You must coach Expats to join, and your website must state that this is one of the types of coaching you offer. I do ask whether coaches listed there are certified, and as we develop, and discover the information most helpful to businesses and individuals, I see the need to re-group on requirements and how we are listed. Since we are very new, right now it’s about discovering “who’s out there, and what do you do”, but that will change in future. (NICOLA: I’ll come back and interview in a year or so’s time Heather and we discuss how things have changed and grown!)
8. WHAT CAN EXPATRIATE COACHING OFFER TO AN INDIVIDUAL? TO AN EMPLOYER OF EXPATRIATES?
There are so many things, and I’m sure different coaches would offer different things.
For an individual, Expatriate Coaching offers the ability to effectively transition between cultures. There is so much detail in that statement, but at a high level, it ultimately helps the Expat (and potentially his or her family) to settle in to a new life and be HAPPY living it. Another huge benefit for individuals is coaching during the Repatriation process. Most people presume they are “returning home” so it will be “easy”, and soon discover it can be harder than the initial expatriation process. This has been getting more attention with the economic downturn, requiring many Expats to return to their home countries.
For a business, the ability of an Expatriate Coach to help the employee being relocated to settle in helps with their ROI. Businesses invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in the overall process to relocate an employee. It’s in the best interest of the business that the relocated employee is happy, and has effective resources to help adjust to a new country.
Another way Expatriate Coaches can help a business and individual is with on-the-job coaching where cross-cultural teams can be observed, and professional clashes addressed and resolved.
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