The Coach Approach | Berkeley Point Capital

Faculty member Eric de Nijs and Berkeley Point participant Asha Hawthorne taking part in a mock coaching session.

A common practice in organizations is that employees are promoted into management because they possess strong technical skills, yet their people skills are not taken into as much consideration. Berkeley Point Capital, one of the nation’s leading providers of multifamily capital solutions, recently commissioned a custom education program from Georgetown University to challenge that practice.

Emma Kiendl and Eric de Nijs, two faculty members from Georgetown’s Institute for Transformational Leadership, taught a total of 45 managers from Berkeley Point in a custom program called The Coach Approach to Leading, Managing, and Developing Others. The program was highly interactive and included live faculty coaching demonstrations, participant speed coaching experiences, and a focus on developing the skills of masterful listening, asking powerful questions, providing feedback, and making effective requests. These activities culminated in each manager drafting a development plan for a staff member.

By supporting their managers’ development, Berkeley Point is helping their managers become inspiring leaders and coaches of their in-house talent. We sat down with participant Asha Hawthorne to learn more about her experience:

INT: What were you doing in this photo? 

AH: Eric was helping me think through solutions to a vendor relationship/communication issue I’ve been struggling with since joining the company.

INT: How did you feel while talking to Eric?

AH: Honestly, it felt like therapy (and I mean that in the nicest way possible). Eric is a master at listening and posing helpful questions that get you to a proper solution.

INT: Are you applying what you learned at Georgetown in your job? If so, how?

AH: I am applying what I’ve learned — both personally and professionally. The Coach Approach has opened my world to new possibilities!

INT: Do you have any advice about coaching for other managers?

AH: I would advise managers to focus more on building relationships than driving results. If you show people you care and are willing to invest in their growth, then they are more likely to go the distance with you.


Post by Emma Kiendl, an instructor in Georgetown’s Institute for Transformational Leadership. As an internal executive coach and organizational consultant with over 15 years of experience, Emma is passionate about helping clients broaden their perspective, explore new possibilities, and take action to achieve their goals. She is dedicated to helping public servants discover the impact they seek through their work and helping them grow into effective and resilient leaders.

Our Custom Education team works with organizations to provide education and training to enhance employees worldwide. Learn more about custom education >>

Staff Satisfaction Central to Student Engagement

I was recently interviewed by a publication for higher education leaders about how staff satisfaction impacts student satisfaction. The full text of this article is available here.


Students today are more sensitive to service and support than ever before. Whether they’re 19 or 39, today’s students behave more like customers and expect to receive an experience from their colleges and universities that matches the kind of experience they receive from companies like Amazon, whose hallmarks are engagement and ease. Unfortunately, without delivering a great staff experience, institutions cannot achieve the level of service that students expect. In this interview, Senior Assistant Dean Amy Levine shares her thoughts on what it takes for an institution to deliver a great staff experience.

Interviewer (INT): How does the staff experience impact the student experience an institution is able to deliver?

Amy Levine (AL): Our students are perceptive. They are bright, mature, and extremely motivated. They are executives and professionals, and they pick up on the tones, attitudes, and the environment around them. This intuition is not unique to adult students, but it’s heightened by those who are also working and have competing priorities. When our students interact with staff, they have certain expectations that must be met. Of course they want their questions answered and problems solved, but they also expect a fair, equitable and professional environment—the same environment that matches the classroom.

INT: What are the characteristics of a great staff experience?

AL: Once an institution begins to prioritize the staff experience, leaders should look towards building an experience that is agile and flexible, has a culture of creativity, has an expectation of accountability, recognizes success, celebrates wins, and practices values and missions.

Staff members all have different priorities so you want to learn their personal values and experiences. These should be ongoing conversations, not just annual check-ins.

Like any strong professional relationship, a positive staff experience is going to take work from all parties. At Georgetown, we have our Jesuit values reflected in the Spirit of Georgetown that guide everything from our classroom curriculum to staff recruitment. But it does not stop there—we can’t just say that, we have to actually live it for our staff.

INT: What impact can IT have on improving the staff experience?

AL: Small investments in IT have the potential to vastly improve the staff experience. A solution that minimizes the burden or time for a simple (but time-consuming) task can enable staff to focus on larger, more thoughtful projects that have a greater contribution to students and programs.

Consider what is already available for free at your institution. Google products continue to improve and advance. There are also many new free or low-cost applications to help with time management, tracking to-do lists, and even to remind you to meditate. Wunderlist and Todoist are tools to keep tasks straight, prioritize responsibilities, and allow staff to feel focused, productive and satisfied. I also recommend asking your team and those around you for their suggestions at your next staff meeting.

INT: What first steps should senior leaders take in determining whether aspects of the staff experience need to be improved or addressed?

AL: The first step to determine this is to actually ask the staff! Visit their work stations. Say good morning before launching into a meeting. Identifying areas of improvement for the staff experience rarely happens in an organized working group made up of senior leaders (though that helps keep ideas and conversations moving forward). Foster a trusting environment where all staff feel safe and comfortable sharing ideas that will enable them to succeed. As the senior leader, you don’t have to fix everything over night, but you need to be working to improve something, every night.

How Georgetown Meets Clients’ Learning Needs

Georgetown University is home to world-renowned faculty and research centers, and these resources aren’t just available to students. Leveraging the full resources of the University, Georgetown’s Corporate and Custom Education department designs and delivers custom learning solutions for teams, departments, and organizations. In order to guarantee that our clients’ learning objectives are met, our team emphasizes three components in the design and delivery of custom programs:

1. A Thorough Needs Assessment

Contemplation is a critical dimension of intellectual inquiry, and Georgetown’s Custom Education team recommends that clients reflect on the need(s) for a custom education program. We ask clients to consider the knowledge-level of employees, what the employees need to learn, and what is happening at the organization that needs to be changed, improved, or built upon.

Through a series of reflective questions during the discovery and needs assessment process, the Custom Education team works together with the client to make sure the learning objectives are appropriate and realistic.

2. A Collaborative Classroom Experience

Grounded in the university’s Jesuit traditions, Georgetown’s Corporate and Custom Education programs draw from the core value of cura personalis, which translates to ‘care of the whole person.’ In academic life, this refers to individualized attention to the needs of a student, respect for his or her unique circumstances and concerns, and an appreciation for his or her particular gifts and insights.

Cura personalis is reflected in the collaborative classroom experience that our custom program instructors foster in the classroom. By paying attention to the variety of personal and professional experiences represented in the classroom, instructors are able to create individually tailored relationships with participants. This encourages more open dialogue and allows the instructor to better target learning gaps and more effectively achieve established learning objectives.

 3. An Applicable “Toolbox”

Georgetown’s Custom Education programs introduce key frameworks and concepts and then apply them to practice through a mixture of class assignments, case studies, and real-world examples. By building from theory to practice, participants are able to more fully internalize the learning and place it within a real-world context.

Upon completion of a custom education program, participants walk away with a “toolbox”, in the form of templates, handouts, or slides. Equipping participants with an applicable toolbox helps to not only refresh participants’ knowledge when needed, but also continuously reinforce the learning objectives.

If your organization is interested in custom learning design and development, please contact us at ccpecustomeducation@georgetown.edu or 202-687-7000 so that we can begin the discovery and needs assessment process.

US Army — Strategic Communications Planning

This summer Georgetown University’s Corporate and Custom Education department had the privilege of delivering a special program, Strategic Communication Planning in a Social Media World, to nine Public Affairs Officers from the U.S. Army. In July the PAOs traveled from all over the globe to participate in this four-and-a-half-day program. The program kicked off with a half day social media boot camp led by Brittany Brown, a former social media strategist for the U.S. Army and current adjunct faculty in Georgetown’s Social Media Management certificate program. All participants received a successfully completed grade along with a certificate of completion for their participation.

David Lipscomb, PhD, Director of the Writing Center at Georgetown and Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of English, has been leading this program for more than ten years now. Dr. Lipscomb explains the importance of strategic communication planning in a social media world:

“Given the pace of social media and our 24/7 news cycle, the idea of “planning” an organization’s communications might initially seem antiquated. But paradoxically, planning is more crucial than ever. And this is true precisely because it’s so easy for an organization to get sucked into the games and distractions of increasing “likes,” responding to every news event, and chasing every meme. Suddenly, you’ll find yourself with a slew of Facebook pages, new accounts on every new platform, and a crazy work schedule. That way madness lies. You don’t have the time or personnel for that, and it’s unlikely to help your brand or your mission.

Strategic Communication Planning lets you step back, clarify your goals, listen to and learn about the audiences that matter to you, and discover creative ways to talk to them where and when they’ll be receptive to you and what you have to say. And all along you measure what’s working and adjust. There’s nothing new about these tasks, but it turns out that social media and the world of data now available to us make all the basics of strategic communication planning much easier, faster and more effective. And at Georgetown, we have a whole set of new on-page tools to help you take advantage of this new world, including the Plan-on-a-Page, more commonly known among students as the POP.”

Georgetown looks forward to continuing to work with the U.S. Army to confront the challenges and discover the benefits of this new world.


Our Custom Education team works with organizations to provide education and training to enhance employees worldwide. Learn more about custom education >>

RoK Public Safety — Emergency & Disaster Management

Georgetown University’s Emergency and Disaster Management program and Custom Education team partnered to host South Korean public safety officials for a week of instruction in “Emergency & Disaster Management in the US: Preparedness and Response Exercises.”

The customized course, specifically requested by the South Korean Ministry of Public Safety & Security, was focused upon learning about the US approach and processes. Subject matter included US theoretical and legal frameworks, organizational arrangements, exercise programs, and methodologies for applying lessons learned. Presented over 5 days, the course included visits to FEMA and the US Geological Survey. Instruction was delivered in English, complemented with full, iterative interpretation into Korean.

The attendees included senior officials of the Ministry’s Civil Defense and Disaster Management Training Institute, as well as specialists in meteorology, tsunami effects, and Emergency Managers from the City of Seoul. There were multiple collaborations during the course in which techniques and best practices were shared. After this inaugural success, exploratory discussions are already underway for further Emergency & Disaster Management courses for more groups of South Korean officials to attend at Georgetown.


Post by Gregg Jones, course developer and instructor; Georgetown University lecturer. After military and civilian Government careers, Gregg now consults globally in crisis management. At Georgetown, he teaches courses in Emergency & Disaster Management theory, Strategic Readiness & Emerging Threats, and Crisis Management. He is currently researching volunteers in humanitarian emergencies.

Our Custom Education team works with organizations to provide education and training to enhance employees worldwide. Learn more about custom education >>