I'm Sharmin Banu, Leadership and Career coach working with mid-level technology leaders to bring more growth, purpose and joy.
Today is the 5th anniversary of my post Microsoft life :). Hard to believe how time flies! It was not just a new career I wanted to pursue; I also wanted to be part of the neighborhood I lived in. Being someone coming from totally different culture and moving towards an even more unknown career I had to go through a steep learning curve many take for granted. Today I decided to take a pause and celebrate by reflecting on the past five years of my life. Other than completing the coach training to obtain a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) and Associated Certified Coach(ACC), here is a snapshot of what else shaped my career/life during this time.
Served in the Local School Board for Three years
School PTSA always needs help, so it was not too hard to get started. It taught me few invaluable lessons. I learned to get things done while having lots of giggles and comradery. Coming from a govt centered country, I surprisingly noticed how powerful this grass root level activism is. I also learned what it means to say I am a citizen and I want to make a difference – it could be as simple as spending a Saturday afternoon cleaning the weeds in the school premise or partnering with the teachers in or outside the classrooms. I found a great way to use my skills and talent (and my introvert energy) by modernizing the school newsletter and implementing a distributed model of sharing the workload.
Some days I had fun editing our principal’s notes! All these helped me make a few truly amazing friends, I finally felt I am part of my neighborhood.
Attached Myself with a Few Established Organizations
I realized, as a solo entrepreneur it would be almost impossible to increase my sphere of influence all by myself. My active involvement with the Coach Federation WA Chapter has been very vital. I also looked for other opportunities. With the help of my network I reached out to a few local organizations, got a handful of rejections, kept on trying until I had some success. Bellevue College and Executive Development Institute are two of the big names I have been happily working with. These involvements broadened my network significantly.
I have got quite a few amazing friends, colleagues and mentors without their support I wouldn’t be here today. Linked in founder mentioned “Opportunities are attached with people” I totally believe in that.
Established myself as a Speaker/Facilitator
A borderline introvert like me never really was excited about public speaking. But I was getting questions on how I would let others know about my work (aka marketing). When I finally accepted the fact that I do need to do public speaking, I started with the Toastmasters clubs. I delivered total two speeches by working extra hard to make those of high quality. I did some volunteering in their board for one year. While 10 speeches were needed to complete the first step, I soon got impatient with the process. Instead I hired a personal coach for a customized training. With some practice via webinars I finally delivered my first public seminar in front of Microsoft Asian Communities. To my surprise I felt totally “fish in water”. It was not just my preparation, it was the audience I was genuinely able to relate and connect. I eventually delivered my workshops at some other big companies in the Seattle area.
I pleasantly discovered my new love for being in front of an audience who are kind of like me! I now jokingly introduce myself as, “I coach Engineers because I speak their language or the lack thereof”
Designed and Delivered My Signature Workshop: Career Vision
It started with hiring a wonderful marketing coach, Donna Steinhorn. Within just 4 weeks I designed and delivered my first webinar. After a few months I started delivering the 4-module workshop. I now deliver this workshop at Seattle area’s(and the world’s:)) one of the biggest technology companies.
Here is a testimonial from my workshop participant (An engineer for 26 years):
“I am making my connection with my joy of teaching and collaborating. I see a path and no obstacles in my way, just staying the course and keeping what really matters most right in front of me. In all areas of my life I feel Purpose, Joy and Growth – Amazing! “.
Acquired Writing Skills
For the last few years I have been regularly writing blogs. My articles has been published in the International Coach Federation’s blog among few other places. Writing has become a great tool for my self-expression and I feel honored when my readers tell me that they find it meaningful and easy to read. Not to mention I got to read a lot of fascinating books along the way.
Got to Make a Quality Difference in My Clients’ Lives
When I needed to do an assignment for my Coach certification class, JD, my friend for 20 years was the only person agreed to be my guinea pig. A few years after our coaching engagement, JD said that it had helped him to accomplish his lifelong desire to complete his PhD despite all the challenges he had been having. Another client, a mid-level manager at Microsoft is now better prepared to deal with ambiguous situations and is leveraging his team and partners more effectively.
I am not a good match for everyone. So far ~90% of my clients had a very positive tangible outcome from working with me. The common result is their quality of life got better, they became happier. It has been very rewarding to see my clients finding their own solutions. I recently got nominated for Career Coach of the Year by ICF WA chapter; my take is, it is my clients who make the best coach I can be!
Oh, yes I almost forgot to tell you I got a “unusually high score” in the coaching certification (CPC) exam. For the high achiever in me it is not easy to pat on my back and say “great job”! However, forcing me to write about all these has definitely helped to notice and be more grateful about this journey of learning and discovery. My friends often ask me if I ever regretted my decision of leaving the corporate job. I feel guilty that I never even felt it that way. While I do have my own very hard challenges in this new path, the sense of awakening and the authentic happiness I experience these days is absolutely priceless!
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