RITIKA SHARMA / Emirates Business
Sophia Fromell is an executive coach specialising in guiding entrepreneurs and business corporations to achieve the results they want. A certified coach, she navigates entrepreneurs and teams in corporate world to change their lives and progress towards genuine contentment by understanding who they really are and utilising their full potential to achieve their professional and personal goals. How is she helping businesses flourish, she motivates and coaches teams that resultantly leads to better business and better revenues.
At first instance you might wonder if this (life-coaching) is even a profession, but the recent fame that the concept of ‘life coaches’ has gained and the notable contribution it has made in the business industry, traditional perceptions have changed.
To simplify, the cornerstone of Sophia’s philosophy is that in our quest for personal achievement we often forget that it is the journey to reach our personal goal that is even more important than the goal itself. It is the journey itself that makes us who we are, with all the knowledge, experience and self-discovery we have had along the way. This is the foundation of Sophia’s approach which includes certain methods and techniques, to ‘life coach’ her clients.
A Greek by nationality, Fromell has lived in the UK, Switzerland and the UAE, working for some of the biggest names in investment banking and wealth management. After 15 years in banking and finance, she decided to leave banking and utilise her knowledge and experience in life coaching; she has consequently founded Ithaca Life. She is a qualified life coach and a Board Member of Dubai Chapter of The International Coach Federation, (ICF).
She tells us that the name Ithaca story of comes from Greek mythology, where Ithaca is the island where king Odyssey lived and where he returns to after the Troy war, after a 10 year-long journey full of adventure and challenges.
Finding that interesting, we talk to Fromell to find out how Ithaca represents the wholeness and contentment that one feels at the end of a journey towards set goals and how it is helping businesses reach their full potential.
Excerpts from the interview:
Yours is an interesting
business, the topic of life coaching. How do you look back at your journey so far?
I appreciate my achievements and what I have accomplished so far. I worked the long hours expected in banking for years before realising there must be more to life. I don’t regret it.
It made me who I am today and made me realise what I truly wanted to do in life. Creating your ideal life is a journey that requires persistence and determination, and I’ve chosen to journey bravely, with an open mind and a lot of support.
The concept of life-coaches is not that new in this country. How do you look at this fact?
Life Coaching is a growing industry in the Middle East. Year after year, individuals and companies realise the benefits coaching can have in their life and their businesses. Good coaches are really sought after.
In Dubai, in particular, there is a great demand for good, professional and qualified coaches. My hope is that the coaching industry will soon be more carefully regulated to ensure that only properly qualified individuals will be allowed to work as coaches.
What are the services we can find at Ithaca? Where does this name come from?
At Ithaca, we help individuals and corporations to achieve the results they want. Our clients may be “feeling stuck” or uncertain about their future. They are in a stage in their life where they might be contemplating a career change, they may be feeling that there is more to life or looking to explore what they really want to achieve and explore who they really are. We work with these individuals to get them to set goals, understand how old habits and beliefs might be holding you back, address fears and eventually be their own person and not one their family, colleagues and friends expect them to be.
Our philosophy at Ithaca Life is that while we all have our own Ithaca (goals), what is more important than the goal itself however is the journey to reach Ithaca. It is through that journey that we collect all the experiences, knowledge and wisdom that make us who we are.
As a female entering this field, how did you decide upon UAE as you base?
I left Greece when I finished university and I have since lived in UK and Switzerland before coming to the UAE. I always found, however, that Dubai is one of the best destinations to raise a family and start a business. Particularly in the UAE, there is a great entrepreneurial spirit, which is an excellent base for new ideas to flourish.
What were the initial challenges you faced when you set up the business here?
After 15 years in banking, I decided to live and set up Ithaca Life. At the time my son was 3 and my daughter was a newborn, so it was a big decision for me. It certainly scared me as much as it excited me however I was always very clear on what I wanted. Once I knew what I wanted to achieve there would be no stopping me, I’d make a plan and would work to achieve it. I’ve always been very driven and determined. This is not to say that I had no setbacks. There are always bumps on the way. However, I have never let these setbacks define me. I learnt from my mistakes and moved
How important do you think it is to have more women capable of doing effective business in any economy? How does that contribute to overall business ecosystem?
Very important! Women are great leaders and have a significant impact in organisations. Research shows that women leaders tend to have significantly happier and more highly engaged teams, while companies with women on their boards outperform those without.
There are some great role models in business that can show us that women can really achieve: Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook, IndraNooyi at PepsiCo, Marissa Mayer at Yahoo, Ursula Burns at Xerox and Presidential candidate HillaryClinton.
UAE is home to millions of expats and this country has served as a fertile ground for many females who have made it big in their professions. What role would you say the UAE is playing in ensuring success of female professionals?
The UAE embraces new entrepreneurs and businesses of all genders. Not only we have an increasing number of executive positions filled by females but also we see an increase in the number of groups and programmes set up to support women in business. We now see several female ministers and Federal National Council members, as well as many Emirati as well as expat women holding leadership positions in big organisations or being successful entrepreneurs.
How do you think women can contribute towards the
substantial rise in the
economy of the country?
Women are essential contributors in any economy. In the US alone, since women started participating in the workforce, their productivity has accounted for about a quarter of current GDP. Even more interesting is that women-owned firms have an economic impact of $3 trillion that translates into 23 million jobs, 16 percent of all US jobs. These statistics are extremely important as they demonstrate the impact and the contribution of women to a nation’s economic growth as well as the economic vitality of its communities.
At a grass-root level what is that one modification that would help in enhancing the future of women in business?
I am a firm believer that there is no limit to what we can achieve in life. The only limitations we have as humans are the ones we set on ourselves. So changing our mindset individually as well as collectively is the most important step we can take.
Women face a lot of problems in their professions worldwide. How can women make themselves stand out? What are your views on women empowerment?
Empowering women should be one of the most important priorities of every organisation, nation and community. With only 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs being women there is still a long way to go in raising the participation of women in business and the economy. My advice to all women would be set goals that inspire you and thrill you. We can achieve a great deal of things once we set our mind to it. We just need to be persistent and not let our fears limit us.