Business Coaching Program

More than 25 Ohio State alumni have answered the call to help current graduate students grapple with professional and personal challenges as part of a coaching program delivered by the Fisher Leadership Initiative.

The alumni serve as coaches to help students at Fisher reframe problems or challenges they’re facing as opportunities, said John Schaffner, a senior lecturer in Fisher’s Department of Management and Human Resources, director of the Fisher Business Coaching Program and a certified executive coach.

“The program is designed to provide a service to students that will allow them to ask real questions now, not when they’re 50,” he said. “Questions like: ‘How do I want to live my life? How can I find purpose and fulfillment? What resonates with me? What values propel me? How I can I understand my values and live in accordance with them? What are my strengths and how can I use them in service to my ideal self?’”

Learn more about the Fisher Business Coaching Program

George Hernandez (MBA ’18), a sales strategy support manager for Chase, is a coach. He was inspired by a friendship forged during his youth with the South Korean owners of a nearby corner convenience store. He credits one of them, Sue, for helping shape his personal growth. He never forgot that kindness.

Both of Hernandez’s parents had dropped out of high school, and he yearned to escape the neighborhood where he grew up, wanting a “bigger, better life” for his own children one day. Hernandez eventually achieved that goal — in part from the guidance of Sue and her husband.

“One of the things I’ve always wanted to do is give back,” Hernandez said. “She instilled something in me: curiosity. How did she challenge me to do more than I thought I could?”

Hernandez hopes to inspire others to become coaches.

“I can’t help everybody, but the ones I can, I’ll help them out and help them grow,” he said. “When we’re done, the question is ‘What are you going to do for the next person, not today, but someday in the future?’”

Another coach, Zainab Kandeh (MHRM ’17), is a human resources advisor at XTO Energy, an ExxonMobil subsidiary. She’s participating in the program because she enjoys how it helps students.

This includes “unlocking what their motivators are, what their passions are, what is preventing them from hitting those goals, guiding the coachee to explore what it is they’re trying to get out of their goal professionally or personally in life, and how they want to own their experience going forward.”

Despite living in Houston, Kandeh is still able to make the coaching relationship work.

“Our dynamic is interesting,” she said. “It’s important to me they understand that I’m dedicated to their growth and what they chose for their goal. Even though we are mainly communicating by phone, we’ve still been able to create a solid client-coach relationship.”

Another one of Schaffner’s former students and coachees, Luke Kapper (MBA ’17), is now giving back as a coach. He recently moved to Portland, Oregon, where he works at Bank of America. But the distance hasn’t prevented him from participating in the coaching program.

Kapper said he sees education as a lifelong process, and coaching is an opportunity to pay forward, much like Schaffner did for him. And he hopes others will answer the call to coach for future semesters.

“It’s a transformational experience,” he said. “If you invest yourself in the right way, you’ll get out what you put into it.”

All three alumni completed Schaffner’s two coaching courses at Fisher and credit their former teacher’s instruction on being a part of their decision to give back.

The first Fisher Business Coaching Program piloted in fall 2018, with more than 20 second-year Master’s in Business Administation (MBA) students participating in this transformational experience. Due to its success, this program will be continued in spring semester 2019 and extended to all Fisher College of Business MBA and Master’s in Human Resource Management students.

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