|Newfield News: Newfield Voices
Spotlight and Case Study
Andrée Nembhard, Newfield Ambassador
A year ago, a friend introduced me to a woman who told me how concerned she was about her husband who, she claimed, had become a different person in recent years and, consequently, she had become profoundly unhappy. Sue (name changed) had come to me because she had the impression that I might have been able to help her husband, although she was sure he would not have been willing to come to me himself. She admitted that she was not sure what I did, but, as I was recommended very highly by a trusted friend she came to see me out of desperation. I very quickly disabused her of any ability on my part to do what she wanted and shared with her how I “worked” with clients in accordance with the Newfield philosophy. Before too long, she was ready to sign on as my coachee. However, I suggested that we start with a few sample sessions until we both felt she was ready to enter into a fuller coaching agreement.
Two coaching sessions later, Sue became one of my few non-corporate coachees. Over the next four months or so, I had the privilege of observing the slow blooming of an extraordinary flower. Sue has not only found her voice but stepped into a new body, and the once reluctant artist who did not know if “people would like her work” is now painting with abandon.
I must confess that I was deeply envious of Sue (a South American) for her courage to be vulnerable and wondered to what extent her cultural background might have facilitated this. In Jamaica, we tend to regard fear of vulnerability as a male preserve. However, from my experience, not only do men not have a monopoly on this, but the reverse may just be the case. I thanked Sue for reminding me of what I need to work on continually, and Sue’s husband (a Jamaican) thanked me for his new life. Sue’s comment on the coaching experience in her heavily accented English, was: “Why everybody don’t do this [coaching]?”
Those were my exact sentiments when I first experienced Newfield. When I found Newfield, I knew that my nearly 18-month search for a program that I did not have language for was over. The joy had to be shared!
My journey with Newfield started in earnest at Redondo Beach, Los Angeles, on a cool fall morning in 2002, some two months after my masseuse (who literally felt my pain) told me that another “airy-fairy” client of hers had been pursuing a program she thought I would love. Within two days, after a conversation with the late Richard LeKander, I was registered in NCOL. In fact, it was on that day that my new life began; my excitement was palpable. Later, when I turned up for the first conference, not knowing anyone in the programme or even in the LA region, for that matter, I followed the instructions very carefully, and I was almost blown away when the music of my countryman, Bob Marley’s “One Love,” grew louder and louder and led me by my ears to the meeting room. There I was greeted at the door by Richard—the same warm, avuncular voice that answered my first call. That was the prelude to Julio’s magic that was to follow, and like Sue, I left first the conference wondering, “Why everybody don’t do this!”
I shall remain profoundly grateful for having had the privilege and the honor of attending some of the leading traditional learning institutions around and for having headed three major organizations in Jamaica and being invited to head a few more. All of the above have contributed greatly to making me the person I am today. Yet, I felt very dissatisfied with the way things were and very guilty for feeling that way, as to the casual observer this might have been a “dream” life. I knew that I did not want to go back to any of those institutions or lead any of those organizations anymore. But I did not yet have the wherewithal to explain what was welling up within me or anyone with whom to share those thoughts.
I almost never return to the organizations that I have left, but yesterday a partner and I went to one and met with a former colleague, who is now the CEO, to talk with her about our new product—360 degree assessment and leadership coaching. The CEO sat in the position in which I would have sat for many years. And when she spoke of her pain from dealing with the political directorate, the absence of trust and the disabling bureaucracy, for a moment I was transported back to the past, and I literally felt her pain. I have no idea how things will turn out, but I was glad to have been able to share with her, if only for that brief moment, and to introduce the possibility of another way. Her situation may be extreme, but it is not unique in Jamaica.
I thought I had emigrated from Jamaica to the US in late 2002. However, as it turned out, my stay was short-lived, and very shortly after “a walk in the park with Julio” at the closing session of the 2004 Alumni Gathering when I managed to summon up the courage to be vulnerable, I just knew that I had to return HOME. I left Jamaica because I had to and returned because I needed to. It has been five years since I have been back, and it is as if I am experiencing the place for the very first time.
Today, I teach transformational leadership at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus (Mona School of Business), and offer leadership coaching to organizations and individuals. I recall at the 2008 Alumni Gathering in Florida telling a friend of mine that my business was so successful, my main concern was how I was going to be able to do all of what was coming down the pike. Within two months of that reunion, the earth had shifted. The global economic meltdown which had affected all countries seemed to have affected the Caribbean even more. It was around the same time that I had agreed to become a Newfield Ambassador. However, before too long, I realized that enrollment possibilities had all but faded. What to do! Panic, yes! But, as that is not a place to tarry, the next step was to recalibrate.
That was how I started my conversations of possibilities with Newfield vice president Dan Newby. Shortly after that initial conversation, the opportunity for a speaking engagement with the Jamaica Productivity Centre opened up. The timing of Dan’s availability and the conference dates was serendipitous. The week that Dan spent in Jamaica was extraordinary, and I believe he may even have enjoyed it despite his complaints of being overworked. We met with private companies and government agencies, and the response to Dan underscored my perception that Jamaica is receptive to the Newfield approach. The meltdown that I spoke about earlier signaled to me that I needed to become a different offer—a bigger offer. Dan’s timely visit did propel me/us to entertain those bigger offers. One such offer is the possibility to work with the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica, through whom we would conduct a leadership program in the region, somewhat like the program in Asia. These are early days, but the matter is urgent.
We know that change is constant, but the fact that the nature of change has changed is only just sinking in for leaders of the Caribbean which has enjoyed preferential trading arrangements for a very long time. The challenges may appear daunting, but we do have the wherewithal to transform our nation. In his book, Jamaican Athletics: A Model for the World, Patrick Robinson, a Jamaican judge on the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavian Head, in paying tribute to the current exemplars of greatness, our athletes, asks the question, “What factors mark out this small country, Jamaica, as King of the Game, with a per capita rate of success matched by no other country?” “Can the practices in track and field athletics,” Robinson asks, “be emulated and used to our advantage in other areas of national life?” We know they can be, and the pockets of excellence can converge to create the Jamaican/Caribbean Miracle. But that calls for a new kind of leadership, and my quest is to do all I can to make that happen.
I now live in a little house called “Gratitude” and “work” (a misnomer) from the ground floor which is known variously as “sacred space, the dorm or the library, depending on its purpose at the time. My eclectic taste in art, music, books and orchids is evident throughout Gratitude. I just love to read, dance, entertain and play at tennis. Regrettably, I am doing less of the latter as a knee injury has relegated me to daily walks on the nearby golf course with my awesome friends—not a bad compromise as I thoroughly enjoy them. My appetite for travel overseas has waned significantly, although my recent sojourn to the Serengeti in East Africa was enjoyable beyond words. My preference these days, however, is to explore Jamaica, and I cannot seem to get enough of that. To make matters even better, my precious daughter, who had been a corporate tax lawyer in New York for six years, to the consternation of many, has returned to Jamaica and is being retrained to practice law here.
My cup runneth over!
Andrée Nembhard is an experienced CEO, team leader, certified executive coach and a member of the International Coach Federation. Andrée specializes in transformational leadership and brings more than 30 years of professional experience in increasingly complex organizations in both the private and public sectors. She has served as chairman of the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland, Ohio; executive director of the Education Transformation Team in Jamaica, executive chairman of the Sugar Industry Authority of Jamaica, managing director of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, and managing director of the Jamaica Commodity Trading Company.
In addition to being president of her own consulting firm, Roxana Consultants, Andrée teaches Transformational Leadership at the Mona School of Business, the University of the West Indies, Mona (UWI), taught Conversations of Work and Strategic Negotiation, and was involved in spearheading the establishment of the Leadership and Governance Centre of UWI. She has been involved in the practice of coaching since 2002.
Andrée has represented the Jamaican Government and private sector organizations on numerous overseas missions and carried out negotiations on their behalf in the areas of trade and management issues. She has held directorships on more than 25 boards, and has been engaged as a consultant by the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank.
Her educational background includes a BA in economics from the University of Illinois, an MPA from Harvard University, an executive management diploma from Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University, and a diploma in Ontological Coaching® and organizational development from Newfield Network.