[Day in the Life of a Coach] Interview with ICA Coach, Kiran Ramnane
(Executive Coach, CANADA)
A typical day in the life of this coach finds ICA coach Kiran Ramnane on a plane travelling the world in her position with McKinsey & Company which supports a strong coaching culture. She also manages a global team with a coach approach and enjoys the diverse nature of her team and clients.
Kiran works with global clients managing learning and development for 1000+ people in all time zones. In her various roles as a Capability Building Manager at McKinsey & Company in Toronto, Canada, Kiran has cultivated a rich background and experience in internal human resources.
So it’s little wonder she thought a degree in counseling would be a perfect compliment to her already strong people skills. While helpful, Kiran soon realized that her interest in bringing out the potential of others was better served with a professional coaching certification.
“After much thought and reflection,” say Kiran, “I realized I’m better suited to supporting others rather than trying to fix them. And that’s how I found coaching.”
“What more can I want?” asks Kirnan. “I love my work…I’m supported while I support others in a fantastic culture.”
Kiran and Merci talks about this more in this interview.
Interview with Merci Miglino
Merci: Welcome to a Day in the Life of a Coach, this is Merci Miglino and today I have Kiran Ramnane with me from Toronto, Canada. Welcome Kiran.
Kiran: Hi Merci!
Merci: So I was actually able to meet Kiran in person, which was wonderful, in one of our ICA meetups, so I know a little bit about the depth of the experiences that you brought to coaching even before you enrolled and graduated from ICA in 2013. I know you have a background in Human Resources and that you currently work with McKinsey and company, which is a pretty well known Human Resources recruitment firm. So what got you interested in coaching?
Kiran: McKinsey is a premier management consulting firm and I do mostly internal HR within the firm. What got me into coaching was a little bit of a strange journey. Years back, I found that wherever I went, people would come to me and talk to me about stuff which I thought was pretty personal and confidential and I use to wonder why they come to me.
Kiran: At some point, I thought, “Oh maybe this is what a counselor does”. So I actually went to school and did a masters in counseling. I did that and started doing a little bit of counseling. Don’t forget I was still in a full time job as a training manager. I came to realize that counseling is not what I want to do and that it is not what I do. I’m not interested in fixing people. That’s not who I am. It was really a bit of a search, an internal reflection on what it was that I really wanted to do. And very slowly but surely, I came to the point of realization that what I really wanted to do and what I was doing in an informal sense was coaching. And that’s when I started looking for coach training and something more structured because that’s the kind of person I am. I need to add a bit of formal study to do whatever I want to do. So that was really my journey to becoming a certified coach.
Merci: It’s interesting that counseling appealed to you at one level but who you were was less about fixing people and more about bringing out their best potential or their highest potential.
Kiran: Absolutely. Absolutely. And that’s really what gives me joy. I mean, I truly believe that what is past is past. And I’m not here to change that and fix that. But as an individual, people I’ve worked with are first of all very smart and successful in what they do but they also come with tremendous potential so I’m helping them with what we can do with that potential now versus sitting and moaning.
Merci: It’s about moving people from good to great. Clearly people have the tendency to go backwards. Someone once described it as reading the first chapters of your life over and over and over again. And it doesn’t get you where you want to go. And coaching really shows us that a process can really help people move forward.
Kiran: Absolutely. And you know, nothing against counseling,
Merci: Sure, of course not.
Kiran: It has its place and it’s very valuable, and rightly so for the right circumstances. But what I personally wanted to do was not that.
Merci: So what is a typical day like for you Kiran?
Kiran: <laughs> A typical day.
Merci: If you had a typical day, what would it be like?
Kiran: It would largely be getting on a plane and going somewhere. I do travel a lot. Having said that, because I do travel a lot, I get to meet a lot of people and work with people from across the world. But my typical day starts with meeting my team which is globally spread out. So I have folks in India, in Germany, in Costa Rica, and in Manila. And you can imagine I pretty much work all time zones. And on one level I’m also a coach manager. I have a team and I manage them. I like to think of myself more as a coaching manager versus a traditional manager. A lot of my day goes in really coaching my team to do their best. We’re five of us in the team, and we manage learning and development for over a thousand people in the company.
Kiran: So it’s a lot of work and a lot of my time goes there, talking to them and listening to what they’re going through and given that we’re in a different time zone, when I’ve slept and just woken up, they’ve been through the day. And going through their day and seeing where I can support them, what can we talk through and stuff like that. So that’s a large part of my day. Other than that, I do, not on a daily basis but at least on a weekly basis, have one internal coaching client. So I spend at least a couple of hours a week with one or two people. And of course there’s the whole strategy things about learning and development and building the learning strategy for these people.
Merci: So in a way you’re approaching what you do with a coach-like manner in almost every facet of what you are doing.
Kiran: And that is something that for an organization like McKinsey, very much promoted with a strong coaching culture. We have a very strong culture where we don’t micro manage. We don’t manage people per se. People have a ton of freedom to do what they want but their managers are available for them whenever they need them really to be a coach. So it’s a very strong coaching culture. I think I certainly try to embody that in my day to day work.
Merci: People must ask you this question. I certainly get it from time to time. How do you promote such a culture, as you described to me, is not micromanaging, but having an expectation that people would self-manage. How do you create a culture where people are self-managed?.
Kiran: So we actually, with the organization, set this expectations right upfront, on day 1. That is something we talk about the minute you step into our organization. As part of our onboarding, we actually do a workshop with our new hires on what we call understanding the coaching process. We take them through this half-day workshop on:
- What is coaching?
- What do we expect in a coaching relationship?
- What is your responsibility?
- What is your manager’s responsibility as a coach?
- What is this whole thing look like?
That is something that we do right upfront so people are aware of how this works. We also assign a coach, a dedicated coach to all of our new hires. So for the first six months of their career in the organization, they have a coach. Somebody they can go back to whenever they need them. Initially it is a little bit formal. They have regular touch-point with them but as they become more independent, the coach weens away. The individual knows that they have this person available at least for six months and as long as they need to.
Merci: I remember us having a conversation about this and I thought it was just a remarkable process that people get coaching from day 1, and expectations around a culture that promotes self-management and supportive tool like coaching in a company is just fascinating to most of us who are interested in coaching. And how long have you been working with McKinsey?.
Kiran: This is my tenth year with them.
Merci: Sounds like you’re pretty happy with the variety of what you’re doing and the complementary skills of coaching.
Kiran: I could very proudly say I love what I do. I absolutely what I do. I love the people I work with. So I’m very contended in what I do.
Merci: It’s interesting the words, work-life integration come up as I hear you talk about how much you love your job. You have to accommodate a travel schedule, but I don’t hear the compartmentalization that many people experience in their jobs where it’s either work or home. When you do what you love, you live a more integrated life. I imagine you have to be very careful with your time because you could work 24/7 given where everybody is.
Kiran: Yes that’s true.
Merci: Somebody once said to me, if you’re inspired, you don’t need motivation. And sounds to me like your job motivates you to not only do your best, but work in a way that supports that.
Kiran: You’re right. I have to be careful because my mind is constantly looking at things that I can do differently at work or things I can bring in. But you’re right. I don’t need any external motivation. My job really does inspire me and keep me going. But there are times like holidays which are good because you can really shut down and down tool and come back renewed. It’s all good. Then I get to travel, I’ve seen a lot of the world thanks to my job. I met a lot of fantastic people. What more can I ask for?
Merci: Doesn’t sound like something I can come up with. So my final question Kiran, if you could tell the world one thing about coaching, what would it be?
Kiran: You know when I think about coaching, the word that comes into my mind is support. It’s such a fantastic support system. I don’t want to use the word “help”. I’m here as a support system. I’m here to just listen sometimes. I’m your back. I’m there behind you, if you need me, I’m there. And the word support really comes to my mind when I think about coaching.
Merci: That’s a great word because people look at our efforts, our goals, our visions for ourselves. Whether they’re conscious about it or not, they think they have to do it without support. When you think about it, it becomes fairly obvious that no one really gets where they want to be without support, whether it be coaching or some other support. So I love the way you said that. Coaching is about support.
Kiran: It’s just sometimes, all your words are sounding bored. I’ve had internal clients and they’ll be talking and there’s that moment that you’re just literally sounding bored and they say “Got it!” And it’s amazing seeing them. Sometimes I feel like I did nothing.
Merci: Right. It was just listening. What a powerful skill. Well thank you Kiran for spending this time with us. I wish you all the best in the job you love.
Kiran: Thank you. Thank you for your time and I’m very happy to have talked to you.
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