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How IT pros can gear up for corporate leadership

Sheila Lam | Sept. 11, 2012
IT leaders in Hong Kong are in better position than their Asian peers to drive growth and further advancement in their own careers, according to experts. But the path requires new skills and new learning strategies.

Since most students in the program hold senior management positions, few are motivated by a promotion within the organization, but rather to seek new heights for themselves or for their organizations. "The program has taken me to the next level of my personal journey, where I can explore opportunities I would never have thought possible before," said Ngai.

The return for the organization, however, very much depends on the individual. Most corporate training programs are based on leadership development geared towards the organization's needs, while an EMBA program may not bring straightforward benefits to the organization.

"Although the EMBA program requires company sponsorship, contribution to the business depends on whether the individual's goals match with the corporate direction," he said. "It can be a challenge for the organizations to maximize an individual's learning experience, but the longer the organization can retain the individual, the more beneficial it is."

Executive coaching--personal experience, corporate success

To provide development for senior executives that match with corporate strategy, more organizations are sponsoring coaching programs.

Business coaching started to gain popularity when Google CEO Eric Schmidt publicly shared his executive coaching experience. The idea is also becoming acceptable in Hong Kong. According to a survey conducted by recruitment firm Robert Half, among the 500-plus Hong Kong respondents, 88% indicated that career coaching helps improve their job performance.

"Executive coaching was primarily among the MNCs, but it's now getting wider acceptance both in Hong Kong and China by domestic companies," said Garry Willinge, a former IBM Hong Kong executive, who has been an executive coach for six years. His practice covers across Asia and has been coaching C-level and senior executives in various industries.

Different from an EMBA program, an executive coaching is a customized program with a higher participation from the organization, said Willinge, who runs his own coaching practice, but also works as an associate for other executive training organizations like the Australia-based Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership (IECL) and Hong Kong-based Transcend. The program aims to develop an individual that is part of an organization, and it is important that the coaching goals match with the organization's direction.

"I am not a life-coach, I don't coach without an identified executive sponsor," he said. "In a coaching program, it is critical to sustain what we've achieved during the period and the individual will need the company's support to sustain it."

In a typical engagement, the organization's sponsor is involved only at the beginning to confirm the coaching goals, at the mid-point for review, and at the end for a final discussion on achievements and continuation. These coaching goals often include helping an individual to overcome their unique personal or business challenges, or to prepare them for a promotion.


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