Solonia is the Lead Sprint Coach at NewCampus, responsible for leading and managing the delivery sprints run by NewCampus. Here are some of her vital stats!
- Prior to joining NewCampus, she co-founded the Change School to provide immersive transformation programs aimed at helping people and businesses re-connect with their values, re-design work, and re-define success as authentic leaders
- Her body of work empowers people to thrive by cultivating self-awareness, growth-driven mindsets, meaningful relationships and personal leadership
- Her super-power is helping people discover their passion, purpose and potential
We thought it'd be fun for NewCampus learners (and their leaders) to get to know Solonia better through five simple questions...
Tell me about your journey and experiences before you first became a NewCampus sprint coach.
Since completing a B.A. in International Relations, my career journey has comprised of a diverse range of industries, sectors and geos; ultimately coming full circle -- back to Ed/Management -- since my very first role at Harvard University. My New York chapter started with a three-year stint in New Business Development and Supply Chain Management with a Product Sourcing startup, which launched me into the next 3 years of working as an independent consultant for local designers of Swimwear, Jewellery, and High-profile Portrait Photographer.
When I decided to return to Asia, in 2009, it was clear that my 'portfolio career' wasn't doing me any favours and that I would have to 'specialise'. Public Relations and Marketing Communications felt like a natural fit, so the first 2 years back in Asia gave me my first corporate experience. And I had to drop out.
In hindsight, my body of work really developed over the course of the next 8 years -- initially as a Sole Proprietor supporting socially-motivated businesses and communities to amplify their impact, then as the co-founder of The Change School where I discovered my passion and strengths in learning design, development and facilitation/coaching. Along the way, life happened, and I needed to take a step back from being an entrepreneur for a while.
The move to Portugal saw me go back to corporate, this time in the Tech sector, and as an "intrapreneur" overseeing global communications, culture and enablement -- allowing me to bring together all my experience and interests to support the businesses’ growth and transformation. Now back in Asia, working with the NewCampus team, I feel I am back in my element personally and professionally -- championing bold students of life like myself to keep dreaming, learning, growing and becoming their best selves.
What are some similarities/differences between the areas covered by the NewCampus Management Sprint and your personal experience with other development programs?
I have always believed entrepreneurship to be one of the best ways to discover, challenge, and actualise your full potential. It also teaches you to embrace uncertainty and to recognise that in order to thrive -- in life/work -- we must be able and willing to adapt, flow, and at times, let go.
The Change School’s mission was to help people cultivate the experiences, mindset, toolset, and community to support the practice of agility and leadership in this way. And I see a lot of similarities with what the NewCampus Management Essentials program is equipping new managers with, so that they can help their companies to grow, scale, and achieve. There are so many tools, frameworks and methodologies out there that I believe to be interchangeable/applicable to different contexts and situations -- ie) personal development, career growth, or business management -- and it is always exciting for me to see how these valuable resources are framed, presented and implemented in different ways.
How did you discover that your passion was in coaching?
Ironically I was actually very resistant to the idea of being a coach for a long time, despite also recognising my natural abilities and affinity for helping people discover their passion, purpose, and potential. In hindsight, I think it was during the time when everyone wanted to be a coach -- or fancied themselves a coach -- that I was suffering a mix of imposter syndrome and/or pressure to join the self-promotion bandwagon that I never really felt comfortable doing.
But as I continued to work with clients who resonated with my personal journey and philosophy, this helped me to remove my own mental blocks and redefine what being a coach means for me, and what aspects of coaching feel most meaningful. And this feels really aligned with my role as Sprint Coach at NewCampus.
What challenges do you see learners facing as first-time managers?
One of the most common challenges I see is a lack of confidence and strong imposter syndrome -- the fear of not being experienced enough or 'ready' to lead. From a skills standpoint, I think knowing how to motivate and grow teams as well as gain senior-level/stakeholder buy-in are some common areas new managers feel challenged.
There is also a mindset shift that needs to happen when transitioning from an individual contributor to a team leader, and this can feel like a steep learning curve and paradigm change for many first-time managers because it is no longer "about you" but about the success of the team that must be driven, guided and led by you.
What I love about the Management Essentials Program is that it really nails the essential management skills new managers need to be successful, and equips learners with tools and resources that will allow them to scale their learnings to their teams. I also appreciate the emphasis on 'empowering through reflection'; to me, this is really about instilling a habit of bringing more awareness to our personal leadership style, growth opportunities, and areas that can continuously be improved upon.
What are some of the hopes that you have for the learners after experiencing the Sprint?
I really hope to see the learners come out of this program feeling confident, capable and excited for their onward journey as emergent leaders. Above all, I hope they feel empowered not just to grow and scale their team members, but also to become drivers and leaders of change and innovation within their organisations.
Asia continues to be on the rise, brimming with opportunity and potential! To be able to experience and shape the future as emergent leaders is so exciting and full of possibilities. My hope is that learners leave the Sprint feeling inspired and enabled to rise to the challenge and discover their full potential!