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  • Writer's pictureMaria Wade

The Journey to Mastery: My Path from Boardrooms to the Heart of Coaching

Nine years ago, I stepped onto American soil, a land so vast and different from where I'd come from, carrying a suitcase, a wealth of experience in various high-stakes industries, and a heart full of dreams. My past roles—navigating the complexities of mergers and acquisitions, leading a nationwide customs operation, managing a billion-dollar company—suddenly felt like chapters from another lifetime. Here I was, ready for a new chapter but unsure where to start.

The world of coaching unfolded to me through a conversation with a dear friend, Yakov, a suggestion that sparked curiosity and, soon after, a passion. It was as if all my previous experiences were converging, preparing me for this moment. The skills I had honed over the years in leadership, strategy, and finance were about to take on new meaning.

The Columbia Coaching Certification Program was my gateway into this new world. As a non-native English speaker, the initial dive into coaching practices was both exhilarating and daunting. I remember the "fish bowl" sessions, where we practiced coaching under the watchful eyes of peers and mentors. It was here, in moments of vulnerability, that I found strength, supported by a community that valued diversity and personal growth.

The program wasn't just about learning the mechanics of coaching; it was about finding my voice within the coaching space. It taught me the importance of listening, not just to respond, but to understand and empower. Coaching became more than a profession; it was a calling, a way to make a meaningful difference in people's lives.

Achieving the Master Certified Coach (MCC) credential from the International Coach Federation was a landmark in this journey. With over 380 hours of education and training under my belt, this wasn't just a testament to the skills acquired; it was a reflection of the deep, transformative journey I had embarked upon.

But this journey was never just about the destination. It was about the people I met along the way, the mentors who guided me, the clients who entrusted me with their stories, and the colleagues who became companions on this path. It was about the continuous cycle of learning and giving back, of growing as an individual and as a professional.

Now, as I stand on the precipice of new beginnings—writing a book on Executive Presence, leading initiatives as President of the Columbia Coaching Learning Association—I'm reminded of the essence of this journey. It's about connection, resilience, and the never-ending pursuit of excellence.

Reflecting on the past nine years, I see a tapestry of experiences, challenges, and triumphs. From the boardrooms to the intimate spaces of coaching conversations, it's been a journey of discovery, not just of my potential but of the profound impact we can have on each other's lives.

This story, my journey, is a testament to the power of human connection, the beauty of embracing change, and the joy found in pursuing one's passion. It's a reminder that sometimes, the most unexpected paths lead us to the most rewarding destinations.

And so, to those who've been part of this journey, to the mentors, clients, friends, and family who've supported me every step of the way, thank you. Your belief in me has been the greatest gift, fueling my journey and reminding me of the impact we can make when we walk together.

I can only imagine the journey ahead, the stories yet to be written, and the lives we'll touch. The path from boardrooms to the heart of coaching has been anything but linear, but what a beautiful journey it has been.

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