Transform your coaching practice

Shakeel Bharmal

Shakeel Bharmal, founder and president of Ocean Blue Strategic Advisors, describes how The Ivey Academy's LIFT Advanced Coaching Certification Program supported his transformation as an executive coach and changed the course of his life and career.

What led you to take the Ivey LIFT Advanced Coaching Certification Program?
As I was planning my career transition from being a COO and returning to leadership development and training, a trusted advisor suggested I look into three specific coaching programs. As I did my research I stumbled upon Ivey’s LIFT program. As an Ivey alumnus, of course I was drawn to it. After a couple of conversations with The Ivey Academy team, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for to prepare for my next chapter. The fact that I was going to be on the ground floor of something new associated with Ivey was an honour.

How did the program compare to your expectations?
I did not come in with any expectations about program content, but I was looking for support for my transformation as a coach. The MBA program enabled a pivotal moment in my life and career 20 years ago, and I was looking forward to experiencing something similar with the LIFT program.

What was the highlight of the program?
There were so many but I will try and list just a few. First of all, my fellow students and instructors were incredible. To be in a group with 20 seasoned coaches and Ivey faculty was such a privilege. I must have had at least 12 intimate conversations that provided so much value as I shaped my next chapter and learned new skills. Secondly, I was so impressed by the narrative and intention of the LIFT program. The mandate to truly provide the support that leaders need to help them navigate the complexity of the next decade and beyond is inspiring and something I believe in. Finally, the combination of new cutting-edge insights about design thinking, neuroscience, and motivation – combined with experiential learning and self inquiry – as well as the case study method made for an extremely stimulating program.

How did the curriculum prepare you for the challenges you face as a coach?
Not a day goes by since I started the program that I haven’t applied something I have learned in the program. The content has provided the source for my continued intellectual exploration and personal reflection as a writer. The relationships have provided me with a safety net and connection to people that care about the profession of coaching and are willing to lean in and help each other. The methodologies I learned have been helpful as I formulated my own personal approach to coaching.

How did the program influence your thoughts on the coaching practice?
The program provided an incredible framework for learning practice and leader character. It gives me a language and approach that has shaped the way I show up in my speaking engagements and my coaching conversations.

How would you describe the program’s impact?
I am not exaggerating when I say it has changed the course of my life and career. I have had the opportunity to participate as a coach in one of Ivey’s executive programs. Every client I have served has said that the coaching element has boosted their personal growth experience from the coursework. So the impact is personal to me and to participants in Ivey Academy programs. I would also add that the credibility of the Ivey affiliation and certification has been confidence boosting.

Have you found peers that you can continue to use as sounding boards, referrals and lifelong friends?
I have had several calls and conversations with my classmates offering me advice and a listening ear as I build my plans. I have also provided the same. I have received one referral and have given one. The depth of relationship that forms over the program has been incredible and I would count every fellow program participant as lifelong friends. 

I would like to add the additional benefit of maintaining connections with faculty. Every single professor and instructor involved in the program has been supportive outside of the program. I have been so pleased by the responsiveness to my emails from a few of the professors and instructors. It’s a collective of professionals and academics that are committed to improving the quality of leadership and are willing to support each other to do so.


For more information on the Ivey LIFT Advanced Coaching Certification Program, please download a program brochure.

About The Ivey Academy at Ivey Business School
The Ivey Academy at Ivey Business School is the home for executive Learning and Development (L&D) in Canada. It is Canada’s only full-service L&D house, blending Financial Times top-ranked university-based executive education with talent assessment, instructional design and strategy, and behaviour change sustainment. 

Rooted in Ivey Business School’s real-world leadership approach, The Ivey Academy is a place where professionals come to get better, to break old habits and establish new ones, to practice, to change, to obtain coaching and support, and to join a powerful peer network. Follow The Ivey Academy on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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