Student Spotlight: Jeff Heiser
One of Jeff Heiser’s top five CliftonStrengths is development, which means he sees the potential in others and is interested in helping them cultivate it. As the associate director of campus recreation at UC Davis, he became interested in enhancing his coaching skills after experiencing a transformative coaching experience. In 2022, Heiser completed UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education’s Coaching for Life and Work Certificate Program, which he says directly fed into his development strength. He has since taken on increased responsibilities as an internal coach both in and outside his division, setting him up for future roles in workforce development. As Heiser nears his 100-hour coaching requirement for International Coaching Federation (ICF) Certification, he hopes to expand his weekend coaching gig and eventually take on more of a coaching role at UC Davis.
What were your goals going into the Coaching Certificate Program and how did you accomplish them?
My primary goal was to enhance my leadership with the staff I supervise. This goal came through the art of listening, asking great questions and helping individuals get to where they want to go. It's really been a huge benefit to how I approach leadership where I'm not always the one coming up with the answers. Even in our day-to-day roles, I know that my staff have the answers within, and helping to evoke that awareness and develop their own tools and strategies has been really beneficial.
How has the training you received in the program helped you in your career?
One of the biggest things the program did for me was to help me practice and gain confidence in my coaching skills and how I bring coaching into my leadership. The way the course is set up, there is time to practice your coaching with 40 other amazing individuals. That was one of the most beneficial things—that it was a live, interactive course with continual feedback throughout. It helped me develop my confidence and bring in a coach approach to conversations with my staff.
Have you been able to apply what you learned in the program?
I have definitely applied these skills across the division. It's been great to get outside of my department and interact with other professionals who are looking for coaching. It certainly helped me lead my staff, and it's offered me an opportunity to look at what am I doing both within and outside of my role. Part of the coaching program is setting us up for ICF credential, so I've reconnected with old colleagues and former students and have been offering coaching to them. That's been impactful for me by allowing me to continue building my skills and gaining confidence in my day-to-day life.
What distinguishes the UC Davis Coaching Program from other coaching programs out there?
In order to get ICF certification, you need a certain number of mentor coaching hours, and that's included in this program. This is also a live class; you're not watching a recording of an instructor like in a lot of other courses. Having the instruction live with the cohort, provided the opportunity to ask questions, see a live demonstration of coaching and then practice those coaching skills. The instructors also make this program stand out. I can't speak highly enough about them—their experience, professionalism, ability to give fantastic feedback, and the opportunity to observe them.
What did you find most valuable about the program?
The mentor coaches. I received unbelievable feedback from someone who's working as a coach. They helped me see where my strengths and areas for improvement are, and they gave ongoing feedback. It's continued to be a connection for me and helped me as I've been setting up my coaching endeavor and looking at different ways to engage with the coaching community.
The demonstration days where we got into small groups to coach each other and provide feedback was another great opportunity. It helped me to become a better giver of feedback—looking at feedback as something that is a tool to help people to improve—and also to receive feedback. It has helped in my day-to-day work, in terms of how I approach giving feedback with the intention of looking forward. It's been a huge, huge takeaway from the program.
Also, being online, this program has students from all over the country, and it's a great opportunity to network with leaders in different industries. It enriches the experience.
What type of support does the program offer in terms of the International Coaching Federation path?
One of the things that became apparent early on was that the program was setting us up to be on the credentialing path more so than other programs. Not all training courses include the mentor coaching hours, which is a requirement for ICF, and the opportunity to connect with other student coaches. We were coaching each other through the reciprocal coaching process to build hours outside class. The instructors helped us understand the difference between paid hours and non-paid hours, that reciprocal coaching counts, and then how to track all those hours in order to prepare for the exam and the credential requirements.
Considering ICF Certification?
Find out how our Coaching for Life and Work Certificate Program can help you get there. Schedule a one-on-one appointment with Enrollment Coach Katie Orton to learn more.
What was the biggest challenge you encountered during the program, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge was not coming in with all the answers, but knowing that the person you're talking to is fully capable, and you're helping them to find that capability. In coaching we really practiced—and the instructors drilled into us—that it's not about us as the coach, it's about the client, the person who's on the other side.
Would you recommend this program?
I would definitely recommend the Coaching Certificate Program. Taking this course was an absolute investment in me as a leader and as a coach. It's enhanced a lot of the relationships in my life, both in work and out of work—it was absolutely worth the time.
What advice would you give to other professionals considering coaching?
Coaching is an investment in you. Remind yourself that it's an investment, and it's going to pay off in huge dividends.