THE GOLD STANDARD IN CAREER COACHING

Mo Chanmugham

Mo Chanmugham

Consulting Partner, Coaching & Transition Services

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You've had an interesting career path, having worked in sports marketing, the film industry, and entertainment law, before becoming an executive coach. How has your career path shaped your view of career development?

I think it’s important to know yourself and to know what truly interests and drives you. I find that clients who struggle with how to create a fulfilling career – how to do something that really matters to them – they struggle because they don’t quite know themselves or haven’t yet discovered a certain part of themselves. In my early career, I thought I knew what I wanted, and I had these great “dream jobs,” but after a period of time, I felt that something was missing – I wasn’t experiencing the satisfaction from my work that I was expecting. In hindsight, while the jobs looked fun and interesting from an external perspective, they weren’t as fulfilling as a lived experience. Now, when I work with clients, I help them to become more aware of the filters they use to make decisions so that they are more conscious of both their external and internal drivers. With this clarity, clients can make better and more grounded decisions about their careers.

What inspired you to become an executive coach after a career in law?

When I realized I didn’t want to practice law anymore, I was exploring many different career options, but coaching wasn’t even on my radar at the time. Then, a friend invited me to a three-day professional development seminar, where I was first introduced to different concepts of coaching. Thereafter, I became an unofficial student of professional development. As I continued to learn, I saw how much the experience was benefitting me, improving my confidence, and influencing my thought process about what an intentional life and career might look like. It began to occur to me that this type of inquiry could be helpful to many people around me who were at inflection points in their own careers, looking to take that next step or reach a different level of success. Once I had that realization, I knew I wanted to help others along their professional paths.

Having lived in many different cities including Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and now Miami, what have you learned from making big changes?

I’ve realized that making big changes is almost always less scary than you think. I’ve learned to approach moving, and change in general, with the mindset that you can always make the best of a situation. You will never have all the information and there are no guarantees in life. The best you can do is to know why you are doing something and trust you will be able to figure things out along the way. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to live in so many different cities and microcultures, and the experience has helped build up my resilience muscle. I’m less reluctant to take bold action these days. I’m driven by a sense of adventure and curiosity, and this has allowed me to follow a unique and diverse career and life path.

How would you describe your personal coaching style?

I always start by building a strong rapport and creating trust as the foundation of my relationships with the client. I like to get to know my client as best I can to understand the challenges they’re confronting, before jumping into how we’re going to meet those challenges. It’s through that initial process that I’m better able to pinpoint where clients can get stuck, and how I can help. It’s a lot of listening, asking questions that help clients discover the lens through which they are seeing a problem, or what they are not seeing, so that they can approach things differently and make better choices and decisions. Ultimately, my clients are smart accomplished professionals; they don’t need me to tell them what to do. But we can all benefit from self-reflection and an opportunity to explore new perspectives with an objective sounding board.

Coaching is a deeper and more expanded conversation than offering simple “to dos.” For me, effective coaching is a process of uncovering why your client is struggling and then moving into an action plan that supports their navigation through that struggle. While coaching is rarely about the superficial quick fix, if we discover some work or life “hacks” along the way, all the better!

What drew you to the work at Greiner Consulting Group?

I am thrilled to become a part of the Greiner Consulting Group team. I have admired Jennifer’s work over the years and the reputation she has built for providing world class coaching and counseling in the legal industry. I am excited to bring my skills and experience to work with her roster of high-caliber clients as they make important career decisions in a highly complex world. I think it’s a great match.

You have worked with lawyers and executives from many industries. What have you learned that helps people achieve their career goals?

After working with professionals in various industries at different levels in their careers, you start to see commonalities around why people hit plateaus and what challenges they face in moving past obstacles. Whether it is a career transition or a leadership development challenge, my job is to help them to discover how they can meet this moment.

A common challenge I see from high achievers is a fear of failure. They are so accustomed to succeeding that they ultimately hit a point where it’s simply too scary to take risks. This becomes their “ceiling,” and it manifests in different ways, from not being willing to speak up in meetings to needing absolute certainty around a decision before acting. I work with clients to get past this “ceiling,” first, by helping them see that they may be operating from a place of fear, insecurity, or insufficiency. From there, I guide them through a process that allows them to tap into the leader/actor they want to be in this new moment. Profound shifts start to occur when clients understand, fundamentally, that they need to think and act differently – to be guided by a new set of principles. Seeing a client transform is one of the most rewarding parts of being a coach.

What does life look like outside of work?

We have a four- and six-year-old, so I spend most of my free time playing sports and taking them to playgrounds, or more recently outdoor birthday parties on the beach. Life feels like a juggling act right now between being a professional coach and being a parent to young children. Beyond my family, I am very involved in fitness, working out, and pursuing my musical hobbies. I dabble with DJing and play the piano whenever I feel inspired. DJing is a lot of fun; I used to play at different venues and clubs, now I just practice at home but am excited to explore the Miami music scene a bit more.