A few weeks ago, I went to 4th Street Deli with some friends for traditional Jewish appetizing. We ate bagels and lox, pastrami sandwiches, pickles and coleslaw—the works. (I can’t recommend this place enough. Get the white fish salad, and you’ll be happy you did.)
Over brunch, we reflected on our past three quarters at Wharton and each shared our most meaningful experience so far. The answers varied. For one friend, it was a communications class that finally made her comfortable with public speaking. For another friend, it was gaining access to CEOs he never dreamed he’d connect with. It took me only a few seconds to find my own answer. The Executive Coaching Feedback Program (ECFP) has been my best developmental experience so far, hands down.
The ECFP was piloted last year and officially rolled out to our class this year. Students begin the program by soliciting feedback from peers, former co-workers and current classmates. Students review their aggregated feedback with their assigned executive coach (professionals who have mentored Fortune 500 CEOs and would otherwise charge thousands of dollars per hour) and then identify leadership strengths and developmental areas. We meet with our coaches for one-on-one sessions each quarter to review progress and continue to work toward goals.
I entered the program a bit skeptical—thinking I was already quite self-aware—but my coach has taken my self-awareness and multiplied it tenfold. In one-hour sessions, my coach notices things about my style of communication or mannerisms, for example, which people I have known for years (including my own mother!) have never noticed.
My coach has uncanny intuition and is extremely quick on his feet with helpful perspective no matter which direction our conversation takes. Most importantly, he provides practical, easy-to-execute advice that is invaluable in any setting whether it’s at home, in the classroom or in the office. I am truly awestruck by my coach and grateful to have such an amazing advisor in my life.
Editor’s note: This post first appeared on the Wharton MBA Program’s Student Diarist blog on Apr. 12, 2013.