This month, we meet Alumni Career Services executive coach Gwen Mellor Romans (EMBA ’13). After graduating from law school, Gwen went on to pursue a career in the law and public policy, eventually becoming a partner at a global law firm. She transitioned into management when she joined a large global public affairs firm as Managing Principal. After serving in that role for seven years, Gwen began to develop a private coaching practice in which she works with senior-level executives from a wide-range of industries. Gwen also works with the Darden Career Center providing coaching services to EMBA students, and she continues to work as a strategic advisor to professional services firms.

1. What led you to become an executive coach?

I graduated from the EMBA program in 2013. During the spring term before graduation, the program paid for all the EMBAs to work with executive coaches. Despite my initial cynicism, my engagement with my coach was so meaningful that I decided to train as a coach myself. Any senior leader will tell you that at times, work can be excruciatingly difficult, for a variety of reasons. It made eminent sense to me that senior leaders would choose to partner with a coach — similar to how individuals seek therapy when they are faced with a challenging personal situation.

2. What are the most common requests from your clients?

The issues most frequently addressed in my coaching sessions include stakeholder management, transitioning from individual contributor to leader, growing an organization’s culture, and work/life balance.

3. What do you think your clients gain from executive coaching?

I think that they gain an awareness that careers can be extremely rewarding, but they take a lot of care and feeding. There are solutions as well as people who can support us during challenging times in our career. Ideally, my clients come to understand that we are often getting in our own way and having a relationship with a trusted advisor can help remove some of those self-imposed roadblocks.

4. What is your most important career advice for recent Darden alumni?

Pay as much attention to your career as you do to your job.

5. What is your favorite Darden memory?

I have many, many happy memories of my learning team laughing at ourselves over margaritas at Continental Divide.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your down time?

A great day would involve spending a lot of time in the mountains or on the water with my family, along with a visit to a farmer’s market and a bookstore. I love to read, listen to music, and watch intense geopolitical dramas. I’m looking forward to more global travel soon!

Reach out to ACS if you would like to schedule a time to meet with Gwen.