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Executive Coaching A Great Career For San Francisco Psych Students

According to a Gallup World poll, only one in three American workers feel engaged at work. Because of this, executive coach and respected educator Donna Stoneham, Ph.D. believes there is a huge opportunity for coaching and developing talent in organizations. And the need for coaching in San Francisco seems never more evident in the highly competitive tech sector, with top executives, like Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, proclaiming "everyone needs a coach." Taking time away from her business and work as a professor at Holy Names University, she shared some of her background and career advice for San Francisco psychology students.

(Photo Courtesy of Donna Stoneham, Ph.D. )

What is your background and education?

"I've always had a deep interest in psychology and leadership, especially understanding what helps people, teams and organizations thrive. I got my B.A. in psychology, worked as a social worker, rehabilitation counselor, and then in leadership roles in managed health care. In 1993, I left the corporate world and started my own business as a coach and consultant. In midlife, I got my M.A. in human and organization transformation, a Ph.D. with a concentration in learning and change in human systems and was certified as an Integral Coach®."

What type of services do your provide?

"My company, Positive Impact LLC, provides executive coaching; leadership and team development services to Fortune 1000 and not-for-profit clients. Our core expertise is helping leaders, teams and organizations unleash their power to thrive and create powerful business results."

What career advice can you share to students interested in a career in executive coaching?

"My book, 'The Thriver's Edge: Seven Keys to Transform the Way You Live, Love, and Lead' shares stories of how my coaching clients have found engagement and satisfaction in work and life and helped others do the same. If you're interested in guiding others to be their best so they can positively influence those they lead and manage and create organizational cultures where people can thrive, then executive coaching is a wonderful career. I often say if I didn't need to earn a living, I'd do this work for free, and I think that's a good criteria for deciding on a career. I also suggest becoming certified through a professional coach training program and gaining real world experience in leadership roles, as both these things will provide you with the grounding and credibility necessary to be successful."

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on

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