The Career Coach: A Trusted Advisor Invested in Your On-The-Job Success

Cross-posted from The Green Suits:

Paul Courtemanche has enjoyed a storied career in direct/interactive marketing and product management. In 2012, he became a "corporate escapee" when he co-founded Cincinnati-based KDL Alliance, a business accelerator that helps entrepreneurs scale their businesses. We recently caught up with Paul to discuss his new endeavor:

TGS: What events in your life and career got you to career coaching? What did you do previous to this?

PC: I have been fortunate to work in direct/interactive marketing leadership roles for great companies such as P&G, Pepsico, and Alliance Data. These companies gave me career paths that led me to manage individuals and teams across various situations, from launching new products internationally to building brands in highly competitive categories. Given these unique set of experiences, I realized that helping others--mentoring--was an integral part of my success. Moreover, I determined that coaching would provide me with the greatest satisfaction in helping others build successful careers.

TGS: What exactly is a career coach and what kinds of services/value do you provide clientele?

PC: At KDL Alliance, we support a mixture of business owners and corporate executives looking to grow both their business and individual effectiveness. A successful career coach is one that understands business fundamentals and can provide an unbiased and thoughtful perspective on business challenges. We work to unlock a person's potential in the context of their own business environment. We help them focus, break down tasks, and clarify success triggers.

TGS: You are a dyed-in-the-wool marketing pro. What role does marketing have in your coaching practice?

PC: Marketing has a big role. I believe that marketing is the most misunderstood side of business; it rests on the fundamental understanding of a product's and/or a service's competitive advantage. And our marketing expertise helps us make the right decisions and choices--such as what opportunities to go after--and then and only then it allows for a good understanding of what offer and channel we must employ to deliver a compelling and actionable message. What I find more and more is that business leaders are dazzled by the latest communication technology, but they don't have a good understanding of which marketing channels are most effective and efficient for them to use. We align the marketing direction and then help owners and leaders align their talent to deliver solid business results. This unique view is giving us a tremendous amount of credibility when we meet client prospects. Partner Donna Buschle and I combine our efforts to get alignment and accountability for owners who often are still looking at their role as a job not an investment--or they lack the business acumen and skills to make success happen.

TGS: So much of a professional’s work day involves [situational] dynamics, that is, how we handle—or—mishandle the daily barrage of decisions, obstacles, and opportunities we encounter at work. What role do you play in coaching talent through situations like these?

PC: At KDL Alliance, we offer personal effectiveness coaching to help business owners and their managers develop skills that help support business growth and productivity while creating a work environment people will enjoy. We focus on leadership development, high performance team effectiveness, organizational dynamics--all key to the overall health of the business. We work with business leaders to create and customize a holistic people strategy to support the business' overall strategy, vision and goals.

TGS: What kinds of skill gaps do you help fill with your clients?

PC: We help business owners see the big picture--the strategic vision for their business. We ask: what are you trying to build? How can you concentrate on the right things if you don't have a clear and well communicated business plan with goals and accountabilities for all? That is what we bring to the table. Further, we help create clarity for owners, teams, and everyone that touches the business and its success. That skill to create the vision, to understand what it takes and the relentless pursuit of making it happen is what we bring to our clients.

TGS: What worries your clientele most? Is it getting recognized and rewarded? If not, what keeps them up at night?

PC: We find the top three concerns of employees are:

  1. Being able to do what they do best in a job suited to their unique skills and experiences
  2. Working for a good manager who cares about them and encourages their development, and
  3. Seeing a future for themselves.

We know that these factors all contribute to an employee's overall engagement or willingness to "give it their all" to support the company. This in turn increases overall productivity which directly relates to better or improved business results.

TGS: How do talent work with you? Do you work by the hour, and if so, how do they compensate you? And, do you take credit cards?

PC: Before we even engage with someone we have a preliminary assessment of the situation, we jointly determine the challenges and provide an honest point of view if we can be part of the solution. It is a mutual agreement that must be built on trust and a clear understanding of the deliverables. We offer our clients a one-on-one coaching engagement that covers weekly face to face meetings. Also, we can tailor our engagement on a project basis. What is more, group coaching options allow owners to benefit from the exchanges with other owners in a series of monitored and topical subjects.

And yes, we do accept credit cards, PayPal, and we invoice monthly.

TGS: Certainly you have enjoyed a stellar marketing career and worked for some great “blue chip” companies. How has work changed for people in the corporate ranks?

PC: I see two distinct changes: the first is around their growing reliance on short-term results at the expense of long-term growth while the second is around the nature of the work force and changing employee expectations. These two forces often lead to poor decisions, employee dissatisfaction, and business downturns.

A coach may just be the ticket for your continued success on-the-job. 

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