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Breaking through the glass ceiling

Frustrated at age 42 by a “glass ceiling” at an international bank in Paris, Véronique, an attractive Afro-French metis, came to me to strategize her “retirement” to a backwater, rural banking job in order to be closer to her two soon-to-be teen children. Within two coaching sessions, Véronique realized that she didn’t actually want that solution at all; that her dream ambition was to assert herself as an international banker, thanks to her language and technical skills.

Over the following sessions, Véronique learned a conflict management and negotiation technique called Non Violent Communication. We role-played interviews and used NLP visualization to build her confidence. By the time she successfully negotiated a favorable financial departure from her current job, she was enjoying her new-found empowerment.

Véronique easily learned to scan and cull job offers incisively; to target and customize her CV for each job application; to present herself effectively for an interview; and to close the deal favorably when she was offered just the job she wanted – a job that had seemed totally out of reach at the beginning of her coaching sessions.

By the end of Véronique’s ten sessions, she had landed a challenging, high-status job in Paris with an international bank, assumed international responsibilities from New York to Hong Kong and obtained a negotiated 36 per cent salary increase.

Over the course of eight years, Véronique has enjoyed promotion after promotion, enabling her to achieve the rank of Senior Audit Manager at a major investment bank where she is also on the management committee.

The cost of coaching was paid off within the first month of Véronique’s new job, but, as she puts it, it was the gift that kept giving: Véronique’s success had an interesting spin-off in her family life. Her husband got ambitious too!

At first, he gamely accepted to assume the role of principal caregiver to their children when Véronique had to travel. Confronted with his wife’s professional success, he also started to evolve in his own career, accepting that it was possible because of the model at home. Transitioning from a subordinate role to a management position and eventually to team leader was psychologically challenging for him. Nevertheless, Véronique’s husband effectively improved his own salary, his corporate status from worker to manager, and his self-esteem with regard to the couple’s children.

The couple’s mutual progress enabled the family to move into a larger house and benefit from regular international travel. Despite some initial complaints about the “disruption” of not having a stay-at-home mother, the couple’s daughter eventually graduated from high school with honors and obtained an engineering degree while her younger brother, stimulated by the activity in the family, launched himself into a sports activity that would eventually take him to national level competition. Their mother swears to this day that it was the coaching that made it all happen.

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