ICF EMCC Coach Catherina, Taiwan

Coach Spotlight: Coach Catherina

April 26, 2024

Posted by BOLDLY

In this week's BOLDLY Coach Spotlight, we welcome Coach Catherina, a seasoned executive coach and transformational leader dedicated to bridging the gap between business and human aspects of change. With a rich background spanning over two decades in senior executive roles, including engagements with Fortune 100 companies like The Coca-Cola Company and SABMiller, Coach Catherina is certified by the International Coach Federation and The Marcus Buckingham Company. Thank you for joining us!

1) You're based in Taiwan, what do you love most about living there?

After working and living abroad across different continents for 26 years, I relocated back to Taiwan in 2020, where most of my family lives. What I love about Taiwan encompasses a variety of aspects: the friendly people, rich culture, delicious food, abundant and easily accessible outdoor activities, convenient and reliable public transportation, affordable and high-standard healthcare, and advanced high-tech development. Taiwan is not only the home of TSMC and numerous other innovations, including the globally beloved bubble milk tea, but it also plays a crucial role in the global semiconductor and AI supply chains. Most importantly, I admire the unique resilience and strong work ethic that characterize the Taiwanese.

In a recent lecture at MIT on 'the evolution of the semiconductor industry,' Dr. Morris Chang, founder of TSMC, outlined several factors that underscore Taiwan's advantages in chip manufacturing, which are reflective of the broader strengths of the island:

  • Talents: A substantial supply of high-quality and dedicated engineers, technicians, and operators willing to work intensively in manufacturing. 
  • Low Turnover Rate: Contributes significantly to the continuity and depth of expertise within chips manufacturing.
  • Geographical Concentration: The effective use of Taiwan's compact geography enhances logistical efficiency. Major cities are connected by high-speed rail, allowing for flexible deployment of human resources. For example, over 1,000 engineers may be assigned to cities away from their homes, staying in dormitories provided by TSMC during the week and returning home on weekends. This arrangement is effective for the company and showcases the commitment of Taiwanese engineers.
  • Experience Curve Theory: The concentration of talent and facilities in common locations maximizes the benefits of the experience curve. This localized learning is crucial as it does not translate as effectively across dispersed locations.
  • Chips Manufacturing Ecosystem: Over the last three decades, Taiwan has cultivated a robust semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem, which has been integral to its global leadership in the tech industry.

These insights not only highlight the technical and logistical innovations of Taiwan but also reflect the dedication and resilience of its people, aspects that I deeply appreciate and resonate with my reasons for cherishing life here.

2) If you could switch lives with any fictional character for a day, who would it be and why?

As I reflect on characters who embody the spirit of transformation across business, digital, and human landscapes, Tony Stark, or Iron Man, stands out as a paragon. His journey from a tech mogul to a superhero not only demonstrates the profound impact of technological innovation on society but also highlights the personal growth and responsibility that come with it. Stark’s ability to connect cutting-edge technology with strategic business acumen and a deep sense of humanity mirrors my mission to inspire and connect the business, digital, and human sides of transformation.

3) Can you share more about your journey and what led you to specialize in empowering senior leaders and driving transformative change?

Early in my corporate career, I was drawn to roles that involved working closely with senior leaders to influence strategic decisions and develop growth roadmaps for enhancing business results, organizational capabilities, and leadership capacity. My global experiences, particularly in challenging environments like Africa and Asia, equipped me to devise innovative strategies for systematic revenue growth, stakeholder relationship improvement, and people capability building. These roles not only honed my skills in business strategy and execution for transformational changes but also deepened my understanding of diverse global business dynamics and human interactions.

My leadership skills were further refined and tested while leading a large-scale business transformation post-acquisition, followed by spearheading the first go-live of a global digital transformation initiative in a high-growth market in China. These pivotal experiences allowed me to unleash not only my own potential but also that of the leaders around me. We were intentional in our holistic transformation strategies, focusing on enhancing local talent capabilities to align with the company’s vision, purpose, and strategic goals.

What I love most about this work is witnessing the tangible outcomes of transformation—how the strategic development of human potential directly translates into business success and accelerates leadership development. I am passionate about continuing to work with senior leaders and lead business, digital, and human transformations that yield fruitful outcomes.

4) With your extensive experience in senior executive roles, could you elaborate on a particularly challenging transformation project you've led and how you navigated it?

In a landmark digital and business transformation initiative, I led a local project team of 250 professionals, working alongside over 5,000 employees at operational plants during our first global go-live. This effort involved close collaboration with a diverse global team of 350 professionals, led by the Global Initiative GM and supported by various global market project team leaders. Our pioneering initiative aimed to re-engineer and integrate end-to-end business processes and IT tools into a global system collaboration platform for excellence. As part of the group leadership team in China, we strategically decided to pilot the first go-live, viewing it as a prime opportunity to automate and optimize our newly designed business model. Given the vast scope of this project and the purpose of sharing here, I will outline some of the key challenges we faced and the strategies we employed to overcome them.

Main Challenges:

  • Scale and Complexity: We needed to harmonize diverse business processes and IT systems across multiple levels, navigating additional complexities due to various languages and market-specific needs.
  • Stakeholder Buy-In and Risk Management: Although the global team had laid a solid foundation with processes and IT infrastructure, securing a local market to lead the rollout was challenging. It required local buy-in and a readiness to embrace risks and recognize potential opportunities.
  • Existing Multiple Initiatives and Resistance: Following the acquisition, the local organization was already undergoing many transformational changes, which led to resistance and skepticism towards a new, comprehensive digital transformation initiative demanding significant organizational capacity and full-time resource commitment.

My Leadership Approach:

  • Listening and Understanding: I engaged deeply with the global GM, core leadership teams, local project leads, the operational leadership team in China, and the global key stakeholders committee to fully grasp the current state and pinpoint potential root causes of challenges.
  • Strategic Intervention: Leveraging the capabilities of our experienced global team, with strong backgrounds in IT and business processes, I focused on resolving stagnations, aligning stakeholder goals, budgets, and priorities, and decisively addressing any indecisions that impeded progress. 
  • Support and Wellbeing: Continuous dialogue with project teams has been crucial in monitoring their well-being, ensuring that the company supports them as whole individuals. This approach optimizes performance and integrates a reward system to acknowledge their dedication and commitment.
  • Change Management Integration: By integrating change management practices, we connected the digital, technical, and human aspects of the transformation. This process helped to clarify strategic intents, unify the team around common goals, and ensure that these objectives were well communicated and understood. Additionally, we facilitated cross-functional and cross-level participation in the transformational journey. This engagement strategy effectively addressed team members' queries about 'what’s in it for them', fostering buy-in and enabling the realization of desired changes through their active participation in driving these changes.
  • Marketing Strategy and Communication Engagement: I developed a marketing strategy and communication plan to animate the digital transformation, tapping into the local team's pride and desire for success, especially in the Chinese market. This included involving cross-functional and cross-level teams in the communication plan and marketing campaign to fully engage the organization.

This approach not only addressed the immediate challenges but also laid the groundwork for sustainable success, demonstrating the tangible benefits of the transformation and fostering a culture of unity, resilience, and innovation. Remarkably, we achieved a successful go-live just a month before the 2008 Beijing Olympics—a critical period that underscored our capability to execute a complex transformation under tight, seven-month timelines. This success significantly enhanced the high-priority strategic initiative during a period of intense global focus on China.

5) Your achievements include transforming a company to align with global standards and leading global digital transformations. Can you share some key strategies you employed to achieve such remarkable results?

As a leader of business and digital transformations at a global company, I developed and implemented several key strategies that not only achieved positive results but also helped cultivate a new organizational culture. These strategies were designed to foster trust, build credibility, encourage innovation, drive results-oriented actions, enhance engagement, and ensure accountability across the organization:

  • Be the Trust and Change: Serving as a direct role model for the changes we sought to implement was particularly important, as many leaders were expatriates. Demonstrating these changes firsthand was crucial in building trust and credibility within the leadership team.
  • Open and Quality Dialogues: Emphasizing the importance of engaging in open and meaningful dialogues across all functions, levels, and locations was key. Along with our leadership and management teams, we used the insights and data gathered from these dialogues to inform, design, measure, and drive necessary changes.
  • Strategic Alignment and Inclusive Strategy Development: From the outset, it was vital to involve leadership and management teams from across the system value chain in co-creating our strategic blueprint and roadmap. This collaborative approach ensured seamless integration, heightened accountability, and alignment with global standards.
  • Strategic Initiatives Across the Value Chain: During leadership strategic working sessions, we focused on identifying and implementing quick wins as well as short, mid, and long-term strategic initiatives. These sessions provided opportunities to coach our teams on recognizing value-adding priorities, and developing strategic plans to achieve tangible results.
  • Leadership Clarity and Vision: Leading with a clear, compelling vision and well-defined purpose, picture of success, values, and goals was key. Effectively communicating and re-enforceing these elements inspired the organization and demonstrated the pathways to success.
  • Alignment and Integration: Ensuring that every strategic choice and action was aligned and integrated with our shared strategic goals. Reinforcing a unified direction and maximizing impact.
  • Stimulating Innovation and Promoting Execution with Accountability and Reward: By cultivating a culture that values innovation, and supports it with clear accountability and appropriate rewards, we enabled our teams to continually push boundaries and take full ownership of their roles and contributions. 
  • Fostering Teamwork: Building an organization that is passionate about teamwork and aspires to transition from good to great reinforced collective effort and shared success.
  • Celebrating and Sharing Success: Recognizing and celebrating wins, and sharing best practices across the organization accelerated our success, fostering a culture of achievement and continuous improvement.

Employing these strategies not only led to significant transformations but also aligned our company with rigorous global standards, setting a benchmark for excellence.

6) As an executive coach and systemic team coach practitioner, what do you consider to be the most important aspects of effective coaching, particularly in demanding business settings?

In high-stakes business environments, I prioritize the following key aspects, in alphabetical order, that I consider fundamental to effective coaching:

  1. Active Listening and Empathy: Understanding unique challenges and needs is crucial for delivering personalized coaching interventions.
  2. Adaptability and Systemic Thinking: Adapting to the changing business landscapes while considering the broader systemic context—including team interactions and organizational dynamics.
  3. Consistent Engagement and Partnership: Through regular, committed coaching sessions and a strong partnership approach, both coach and client actively participate in the transformative process, ensuring alignment and sustained engagement.
  4. Feedback, Reflection, and Continuous Development: Constructive feedback, coupled with encouraged reflection through journaling and critical questioning, supports ongoing personal and professional growth. This fosters sustainable development, preparing clients to independently handle future challenges.
  5. Goal Orientation and Strategic Alignment: Clear, strategic goals that align with both personal aspirations and organizational objectives guide our coaching engagements, ensuring relevance and impact.
  6. Measurement, Evaluation, and Stakeholder Integration: Regular assessments to gauge coaching effectiveness, combined with active stakeholders’ involvement, ensure the coaching is aligned with organizational needs and delivers measurable benefits.
  7. Science and Technology Resources Utilization: Leveraging well-tested models, tools, and data-driven insights to support and enrich the coaching journey. Ensuring that our methods are grounded in the latest scientific research and technological advancements.
  8. Trust and Confidentiality: Trust and confidentiality form the foundation of our interactions, creating a safe space for open dialogue.

These focused strategies have proven effective in guiding leaders and teams not only to navigate immediate challenges but also to foster long-term resilience and success in their demaning business settings.  

7) Being selected as one of the world's first 10 Asia-based coaches for the TMBC StandOut Strengths Coaching Program is quite an accomplishment. How has this certification enhanced your coaching approach?

I am deeply grateful to have been selected as one of the first ten Asia-based coaches for the complimentary TMBC StandOut Strengths Coaching Program. Participating in this rigorous seven-month journey alongside the TMBC coaching faculty has significantly enhanced my coaching skills and effectiveness. The program included StandOut Debrief Certification and StandOut Strengths Coaching Certification, which have enriched my practice in several ways:

  1. Enhanced Clarity on Individual Strengths: The program equipped me with practical tools to identify what makes each client uniquely strong. These strengths are activities that not only do individuals perform well, but they also provide a great sense of energy and satisfaction. Being able to identify and amplify these strengths helps clients consistently operate at their peak.
  2. Incorporation of StandOut Strengths Roles: Unlike general strengths, StandOut Strengths roles describe how an individual can impact others uniquely, relfecting how one’s unique perspective offers a natural advantage in both life and work. Applying these roles guides clients to see how others experience their contributions, providing clear paths for actions and improvement. 
  3. Strategic Application of Strengths-Based Coaching: The program emphasized a comprehensive strengths-based coaching model, incorporating three key components: Traits, Strengths, and Contributions. This holistic approach allows for a nuanced understanding of a client's capabilities and how they can best contribute to their environment.
  4. Cultural Responsiveness: Integrating this approach is essential in today’s globalized business environment, ensuring my coaching is respectful and effectively tailored to each client’s unique context.
  5. Structured and Insightful Coaching Model: Using the StandOut Strengths Coaching Model, which integrates strengths and StandOut Strengths roles into the assessment of situations, stories, and strategies , thus offering clients an expanded coaching experience. This model encourages clients to explore some or all of the nine StandOut roles, encouraging them to consider other strengths roles that are pertinent to their specific situations and their growth. Such a methodology not only enables clients to develop actionable strategies that are deeply aligned with their innate capabilities and relevant to both their work and life scenarios but also provides insights to explore alternative options.

The StandOut Strengths Coaching Program certification has not only boosted my effectiveness as an executive coach but also enhanced the value I bring to my clients. It has equipped me to guide them in understanding how to optimize their performance and achieve a greater impact in all areas of their lives.

8) Could you tell us more about your coaching certifications and how they have influenced your coaching style and methodologies?

As an executive coach specializing in executive leadership and team coaching, I have strategically selected certification programs that align with my focus on working with experienced leaders. Among these, I recently completed the Executive Coaching Certification with The Center for Executive Coaching (CEC), known for its flexibility, practical tools, and a community of high-caliber professionals, which emphasizes real-world applications and results-oriented outcomes for clients.

Influence on My Coaching Style and Methodologies:

  • Feedback and Adaptation: The certification programs have offered real-time feedback opportunities, enabling me to make practical adjustments and significantly enhance my effectiveness.
  • Practical Tools and Results-Focused Approach: I value the real-business-situation-based tools and methodologies from the CEC program, designed to create tangible results and measurable differences for my clients.
  • Global Perspective and Relevance: My extensive global executive leadership experience allows me to assess the appropriateness of specific coaching styles and methodologies for corporate executives and leaders, ensuring the coaching I provide is impactful across diverse cultural contexts.
  • Holistic and Tailored Coaching: My coaching style is whole-person focused, results-driven, strengths-based, growth-oriented, agile, and transformative. These attributes, reflecting my leadership philosophy, have been refinly honed through rigorous training in these coaching programs.
  • Versatility Across Industries and Geographies: The methodologies I've learned enable me to customize my coaching to meet the varied needs of clients across over 20 industries and five continents, showcasing the wide applicability and effectiveness of my approach.

These certifications have not only refined my personal coaching style but have also equipped me with the tools to effectively meet the needs of a diverse client base, enhancing their growth and success in various organizational and geographical contexts.

9) You have a diverse educational background, including an MBA and certifications in various coaching methodologies. How have these academic and professional pursuits contributed to your expertise in driving transformation?

My educational journey began with an MBA two decades ago, but my thirst for growth and the desire to learn from the best and like-minded professionals have driven me to continue expanding my knowledge. Engaging in advanced learning/certification programs with prestigious institutions such as IMD, Wharton , HKU, IDEO, and PROSCI has significantly deepened my expertise in transformation.

  • Comprehensive Learning: Courses ranging from PROSCI’s change management methodologies to WhartonOn-Line Digital Marketing and e-Commerce programs, and IMD’s Developing Digital Transformation Strategies, have refreshed and expanded my toolset. The IDEO program I am currently taking further enriches this continuum.
  • Dynamic Skill Application: These programs have not only provided me with cutting-edge tools and methodologies but also offered opportunities to interact with experts in transformation from both academic institutes and the industry. This interaction fosters an environment of idea exchange and collaborative solution development.
  • Practical Integration: Learning from these varied sources stimulates the enhancement of integrated business, digital and human transformation consulting and advisory services alongside my executive coaching practice. This integration ensures that the strategies I develop are informed by the latest insights and are practical for today’s complex business environments.
  • Mentorship and Future Technologies: Additionally, I am fortunate to receive mentorship on emerging technologies such as AI, which positions me to integrate advanced tech solutions into my consulting and coaching engagements effectively.

Through this continuous educational journey, I not only stay updated but also apply these learnings to provide high-level strategic insights and solutions that drive significant transformation in organizations, aligning with the latest global trends and innovations.

10) Lastly, can you share a memorable coaching success story where you witnessed significant personal and professional growth in a client?

One of my most memorable coaching successes involved a C-suite executive on his first expatriate assignment, tasked with turning around a large market operation. He faced numerous challenges: significant cultural differences, divergent communication and working styles, trust issues within his direct report team, economic pressures on business performance, and his family's adjustment to a new environment.

Recognizing the importance of building trust and cultural integration, we initiated our coaching by focusing on "trusting oneself" before addressing the layers of trust within his team, the broader organization, and other key stakeholders. A pivotal moment in our sessions came when the executive explored his own levels of self-trust. This introspection was a revelation for him, as he had never reflected so deeply on how his internal trust influenced his external effectiveness. When he realized the depth of his self-trust, his presence and confidence visibly changed, enabling him to gain more trust from his direct reports.

We then worked on establishing a strategic direction to disrupt the negative patterns of team interaction. This involved facilitating alignment among his team members, empowering them to lead the rest of the organization in improving business performance. Through these focused efforts, he developed strategies to bridge cultural gaps, enhance communication, and foster trust both within his team and across the organization.

As he implemented these strategies, not only did his professional relationships and business results improve, but his personal experience and his family's adaptation to the new environment also became much more positive. This transformation was profound. He successfully steered the business to a sustainable path of growth and established a thriving workplace culture, all while personally growing into a more adaptable, agile, and culturally competent leader.

Thank you, Coach Catherina, for sharing with us your knowledge and insights. It was a pleasure featuring you in this week's BOLDLY Coach Spotlight! To book your free 30-minute chemistry session with Coach Catherina or explore our services at BOLDLY, visit www.boldly.app or contact us at connect@boldly.app.

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