001: The Art of Getting Started with Emily Kamunde-Osoro

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Emily’s recommendations

John Maxwell: https://www.johnmaxwell.com/

The Art & Science of Coaching: Inner Dynamics of Coaching by Marilyn Atkinson



Emily Kamunde-Osoro:  You know what, just start. It doesn’t matter what it is that you’ve been thinking about. The most important thing is to just begin. It doesn’t matter where you’re at, it doesn’t matter where other people are. It’s your race, you run it. And just begin.

Fabian Luetzig:  Welcome to the Global Campfire of Coaching, an ongoing discussion between coaches, coachees and anybody else interested in the art and the science of coaching. Spreading information and exchanging opinions so that we can learn and grow together as a community. I’m Fabian Luetzig.

Sitting down at the Campfire with us today is Emily Kamunde-Osoro. Emily is the Founder and Director of Rise & Learn Limited, a Human Resource Consulting Firm. Rise &Learn is the Local Partner for Erickson coaching International in Kenya.



The Art of Getting Started

Emily just finished her term as President of the Kenya Chapter of the International Coach Federation (ICF) and has some exciting news to share with us regarding her further involvement with the ICF. For over 14 years, she has been an HR professional. She is experienced in HR strategy development, Leadership, change management, coaching, Career and organizational development. Emily was most recently appointed to the Board of Fuzu Limited, a Panafrican career development and recruitment firm.

She has previously served as a Council Member for the Institute of Human Resource Management in Kenya. Emily was named Manager of the Year in 2014 during Company of the Year Awards organized by the Kenya Institute of Management. Emily has been a guest speaker on HR & Leadership topics for various organizations. She is a contributor to the Journal of Human Resource Management having written articles on Talent Management, HR Business Partnering, Change Management and Coaching.

Her further qualifications include being an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) with the International Coach Federation (ICF), being a certified John Maxwell Coach, Speaker & Trainer and having acquired an MBA in Human Resource Management from Nairobi University.


Emily Kamunde-Osoro:  The first time I heard about coaching, I was working for a multinational organization based in Switzerland. I was sent for a development program along with other managers. It was kind of a basic coaching skills course. I got to experience coaching, I got to see a demonstration of coaching. At the time, I remember I came across the GROW model for the first time. It was exciting to learn what coaching was all about and how you can apply it in organizations in the context of leadership development.

Fabian Luetzig:  How did you first realize that this “coaching” that you were learning about, was something for you, that that was something you wanted to have more of and learn more about?

Emily Kamunde-Osoro:  I think what was interesting the very first time was that I had the expectation that I was going to be told what to do or to have all the answers. But then to discover that we actually have so much potential within us that enables us to realize our dreams and drive us to action was really profound for me. Having said that, when I came back to my organization at the time – I was heading Human Resources in that organization – I decided to take up coaching a bit more seriously and take my managers through a program. It was kind of a certificate program, just for them to appreciate the coaching concept and how they can actually use it to influence change in the organization, drive performance and develop teams. So I would say that’s really where my passion for coaching began. Just being able to see its transformational power in other individuals and seeing people actually changing mindsets and changing the way they do things, taking up responsibilities for their actions.

Fabian Luetzig: Paint us a little bit of a picture of what kind of job you had at the time and why transforming the way people do things and inspiring them, why that was important?

Emily Kamunde-Osoro: My role was Head of Human Resources, I was responsible for the whole piece around strategy development for Human Resources. Performance and leadership development has always been a passion and very close to my heart. And so I took up coaching a bit more seriously and I decided to embed that as part of the programs that I led in that particular organization. At the time, I had a group of about 20 managers or so all the way from the CEO to the Heads of Departments. I took them out for a 3-day program. We started out with a prepping, of course, demystifying what coaching was all about, and taking through some assessments for self-awareness. Then we ran the very first program. The results for me from there then drove me to want to do this for more people and to want to do it at a more advanced stage for myself.

This was around 2010. And then some time in 2014, I came across a newspaper article and it was talking about a professional coaching certification program. It was organized through a local institute here in Kenya with a UK firm. And I knew: This is it! So I signed up for the program, because I wanted to be a certified coach. It was an intense program of eight days. I did that program and after that I changed jobs but stayed in the field of HR. I then decided to take it into my new organization, which was in insurance, so the financial services sector. One of the things I’m really proud of is that I developed a 3-year leadership development program. And in there, there was coaching and what I learned was that it was important for coaching to be unpacked in bits and pieces.

So what we did in the first year of our leadership development program was taking managers through an appreciation of what coaching really was, in the sense of them experiencing coaching through an external coach. So after running a couple of sessions of the program, we engaged external Consultants who then were coaching our leaders and our managers through their actions they had agreed to across the workshops. Phase 2 of that particular program was then to actually make the managers themselves go through a program of coaching so that they can coach internally. I think the difference, or rather the benefit of doing this was that they had experienced what coaching was from an external view and now it was about them taking that responsibility and bringing it to the organization. So they don’t always have to take the problems to HR, but they can actually be the solution-finders in their own departments. It was really more about empowering them, imparting knowledge and skills to enable them to become better leaders, better manage their teams, and of course drive performance and productivity. So that kind of gives the context of where I started my journey in coaching, where my interest came from. I wanted to share this beautiful gift with the people and the organization that I worked with

Fabian Luetzig:  That makes me curious! Especially in Kenya at the time, if I have my facts straight, there was no local Chapter of the International Coach Federation in Kenya. coaching was kind of an unknown concept. To me, maybe I’m ignorant, the insurance sector is a sector that is rather traditional, what works shouldn’t’ be changed, let’s not be too fancy with all these trends and so on. So, I’m curious: what was the reaction when you announced this leadership program and announced “I’m becoming a coach”?

Emily Kamunde-Osoro:  The intention of course was appreciated by the leaders. The approach is what they questioned initially. We started with a self-awareness approach. And of course, that included that included some assessments for the managers to better understand who they were, why they reacted and related the way they did. And of course, bringing in a coaching aspect to it. Our market right now in Kenya, and especially at the time, people didn’t really understand what coaching was. That’s the reason why for me, I chose to run these as a wholesome leadership development program, because coaching is just one aspect of Leadership development. It’s actually a very critical competency framework. So, for me it was important that that was understood from a big picture. Because when you bring in a big picture then the other elements are easily understood. Of course, there were other fact ores that drove perceptions in the organization. They were not used to these fancy and formal kind of programs. We had to approach it slowly. We had to approach it from a point where the organization was, because there was a lot of conflict in the organization at that moment. There was a real need for cohesiveness among teams. Turnover was quite high in this particular organization. It was quite negative energy at the time, I must say. It was interesting to bring in this particular program; like I said it was a 3-year plan. What I found interesting in the end, moving forward was that the fact that we ended up using this particular program as a case study amongst financial institutions. There were two organizations that were doing some research and they picked on this particular organization within financial services. And it was interesting, because we already had done some work and we had done some learning around it. Of course, there were some successes around the program and there were things that we didn’t do really well. So, I think that also worked to educate the public around what coaching does for organizations, when should it be applied, what should you avoid so that it works even better. 

Going back to your comment about the International Coach Federation Chapter: At the time when I began, 2010, there was no Chapter. I heard about the ICF Chapter for the first time in 2014 when I attended my coach certification program. At the time, I then immediately afer I completed the program I was able to join the ICF and by affiliation I joined the ICF Kenya Chapter which I understand was launched in 2012 officially… 2012 it was registered and launched in 2015. So it’s a relatively young Chapter and that also speaks to the stage of maturity of coaching, not just in Kenya, but I think also in the African context. It’s still a long way to go. That’s why it’s really, really critical to continue the conversation around the broader sense of leadership development and bringing in coaching as one of the very, very important competencies in that space.

Fabian Luetzig: Let’s talk a little more about the Kenya Chapter of the ICF. You and I are both members. I’ve found a home there and, having moved to Kenya recently, it was very instrumental in finding connection to my new host country with people welcoming me there with open arms; not least of all you, obviously. So let’s talk a little more about that. How many coaches do you have in the ICF Chapter in Kenya right now?

Emily Kamunde-Osoro:  We have about 100 coaches who have once registered with ICF. Out of hose, 76 of them are active. By active I mean they’ve been paying up and renewing their membership every year. We have grown quite a bit as a Chapter, because now we are, as of December 2018, we had 25 credentialed coaches and 76 active members.

Fabian Luetzig: Tell us a little bit about your time on the board of the Chapter. You’ve been serving there for two years. Your term just came to an end. What was that like, being on the board of a local Chapter of the International Coach Federation?

Emily Kamunde-Osoro:  I think even before I talk about my experience as a board member, I want to talk about my journey as an ICF member. I think joining ICF was the best thing that ever happened to me, in the sense that I got to understand coaching a bit more, I got to join a big community of coaches from around the world. And I really got challenged to grow, I got challenged to enhance my skills and, of course, to get my credential. It’s not enough to become a member, it’s even better when you become credentialed because it enhances your credibility. It widens the opportunities for you and, of course, not forgetting that it just helps to become a better, more professional coach. I joined the ICF membership in 2014 right after I had completed my program. I was so excited after finishing my program, the first thing I did was to go to the ICF website and click ‘join’. I had somebody reach out to me and I made my payment and there I was already receiving communication; I already felt at home, I already felt that there was some community out there, even though I was not able to meet them in person. Then I volunteered myself to the local Chapter as a committee member. It was quite small at the time, I think. We would have about on average 10 people in a given meeting. For me, it was very, very important to just stay connected. I am a very driven individual so when I discovered coaching, I said “I must hang around these coaches, I must hang around these Chapter members so that I can learn more and continue to be in sync with what is going on in the professional world of coaching”. Things moved a little bit fast, because I think in the year 2014 or 2015 when one of the members approached me, the outgoing president, and he said: “we are getting new members on board to lead the Chapter. Would you be interested?” And I was like “Wait a minute! I just jointed the Chapter, I have no idea what this ICF is all about, I don’t think I’m capable”. I just felt like I wasn’t ready for it. But then, well, he kept encouraging me and he said “you know what, just give your CV and express your interest and let’s take it from there”. And I did that, Fabian, and then we went through a process of interviews and written applications. And then I had the option for President or President-Elect of the Kenyan Chapter. I chose to attempt the President-Elect role which was quite… wow. I think it was quite a big task, but I gave it a shot and therefore I started my term as President-Elect in 2017, I believe.  

Fabian Luetzig: What is the role of a President-Elect, for those who haven’t heard?

Emily Kamunde-Osoro: Right, the President-Elect in the government structure of ICF really is more of a Vice President. They deputize the President of the Chapter in all main meetings. Particularly for the Kenyan Chapter the President-Elect is also responsible for education activities and member engagement. We never really had a membership director and therefore we had the President-Elect take a more active role in driving membership growth and leading the Chapter educational activities.

Fabian Luetzig: Ok, how was that, then? You said it was a big task, how was it for you?

Emily Kamunde-Osoro:  Yeah, it was big in the sense that I had never been on an ICF board before, so there was no precedent in the sense “Where to learn from? Who’s done this before? What needs to be done?” Just kind of starting from scratch in a way. Initially, like I said, it was a small chapter. But the good thing is that we have a really strong regional structure, so we got support from the regional staff in terms of setting up a proper structure for the local chapter. For me, it was exciting because sometimes it’s good when you have a white space, because you can put whatever you want, and that’s exactly what I did. I used my networks and contacts to see “How can we make this vibrant here in Kenya? How can we make it exciting for our members?” So we organized a few webinars online with some international speakers who engaged our members. We organized face-to-face education forums. So that was exciting. It was also really exciting to work with the other board members, led by the President and the rest of the board members, they were very active and very supportive in driving growth for the Kenyan Chapter and creating awareness. It wasn’t so easy being the first year, of course, it never lacks challenges to be in any kind of leadership group or any team, because initially you have to connect with the team members. Everybody has got their ways of doing things. So the first six months I would say the whole team development stage of norming and storming and being able to form a really productive team. We had to go through these stages and I’m happy with what we were able to achieve in that first year. We developed a strategy for Kenya for the first time. We had a 3-year strategy for the ICF Kenya Chapter. So in terms of governance, we put everything on paper, in terms of doing and the actual implementation, that was more the work for 2018, which I then was able to drive as the Chapter President. The way the structure works is such that the President-Elect of any chapter automatically takes on as President when the term ends, for succession purposes and sustainability of the Chapter, I think that is a good approach. That way, there is not institutional memory loss and the support is able to continue.

So, yes, 2018 was a great year, I think better than I expected, to be honest. I had amazing support from one of the new leaders of the regional support team. Any time you wanted to do something you just needed to ask and they said, “You know what, just go for it!” We were able to grow our membership by more than 25%. We were able to get funding from ICF for some initiatives we had, i.e. a tradeshow grant for one large conference where we hosted more than 900 delegates. We developed strategic partnerships with some of the big bodies here in Kenya, the Institute of Human Resource Management, because we recognize that the HR Professionals are our key contacts in organizations. If you want to drive coaching in the corporate world, then that is your first point of contact. Therefore, we found that collaboration quite useful and it was quite exciting because they also supported quite a number of our educational activities. I do believe that we are at a better place than we were in Kenya. People know more about ICF now. They may not really know the details, they may not know how to become a member. We’ve tried to engage in some of those forums. The first thing is to create interest and I think the interest has been created. Now it’s more about pushing the drive for more coaches to join because in this market, from the data I know, we have more than 1000 coaches out there who have been trained. But we have 100 coaches or less in the Chapter, so that speaks to a big opportunity in this market. That also means that we have to advance that conversation of really speaking about the benefits of coaching, the benefits of joining the International Coach Federation.


Fabian Luetzig:  So let’s go into that: What are some of those benefits? Maybe one or two of those coaches out there in Kenya who are not members yet are listening. What’s in it for them to join the Chapter?

Emily Kamunde-Osoro:  One for me is really the piece around continuous development as a coach. If you’re going to grow professionally, if you’re going to be a great coach, you have got to continue coaching, that’s one. You also need to advance yourself. You need to grow yourself, you need to be equipped with the right tools. And you also need to surround yourself with people who will challenge you and who will support you to achieve your goals in this profession. I find that ICF provides that through its variety of Communities of Practice. Whether you’re interested in leadership, whether you’re interested in Career coaching or Life coaching. It’s amazing, the amount of content that is provided by ICF online is amazing. So, that’s Personal Growth.  

The second thing is the networks that you develop along the way. Networks that you can use for your own business, networks that you can use to grow yourself. Sometimes just picking information here and there to help you in your current role in your organization. If you’re a HR Professional, there’s a Community of Practice for Human Resources. ICF also gets to partner with a number of these institutions in that field. That also provides even wider connections. So, in the networking piece, we’re not talking only about your own country, we’re talking about an international community that provides you the opportunity to meet people from around the world. Today, with technology, you can connect anytime, any day, you can meet people, you can ask them any question. For me, I find that a big, big, value add.

And number 3 is also for corporate organizations. Organizations that are practicing coaching in-house get visibility, especially their members of ICF, because the International Coach Federation runs the so-called Prism Award that is really supposed to elevate coaching through a greater conversation. To be able to share the stories or organizations that have done well, organizations that have used coaching or embedded coaching in their organization, either as part of leadership or mentoring programs. Being able to showcase return on investment, being able to showcase how it influenced change or how it changed behaviors or how it increased productivity in that particular organization. So, again, for corporates, I think it’s good from a brand perspective, from a brand-building point of view, because those organizations that have done great in the coaching Space are recognized, they are rewarded for the great work they’re doing. And even more importantly, it provides them the opportunity to share with other corporates around what they need to do to become great leaders, how they can use coaching to build their organizations, also in terms of performance and leadership overall. I can go on and on, but I think I won’t stop before I mention that ICF being the largest global body of coaching. There’s this pride that comes with the association with the ICF, this credibility. ICF is the only body that only recruits members who have been trained. The requirement is 60 hours as a minimum for you to call yourself a professional coach. So for me, that speaks to quality, it speaks to credibility. IF you’re looking for a body to associate with, then it would be ICF because it also gives you the opportunity to gain business. We’ve had a number of members contacted through our ICF website. People are always looking for coaches and the most credible website to go to is the ICF’s. So if your name is on there, you actually represent one of the best coaches, because you are on that particular platform. I could go on and on like I said but I think it’s just amazing to associate with the ICF. The benefits are immense. There are also opportunities to lead, either in your local Chapter or globally. The Chapter always has leadership teams in each of the countries in which they are represented. And I think that presents opportunities for personal growth for individuals who are ready to put their hands up and to volunteer themselves as leaders. Whether you’re good in finance, you’re good in organizing or just mobilizing people, there is a role for you in ICF. Every year there’s elections, there is an opportunity to give your name for these leadership opportunities. So ICF is home, I think it’s been a great experience for me. I have enjoyed adding value to other people as a coach, I have enjoyed adding value to my community in Kenya, serving coaches, and of course now looking at the bigger space, the globe, the opportunities are limitless.         

Fabian Luetzig:  Yeah, perfect transition! Let’s look at that. What’s next for you in terms of ICF?

Emily Kamunde-Osoro:  Well, my next step is putting on the shoes of a Global Director 

Fabian Luetzig:  Congratulations!

Emily Kamunde-Osoro:  Thank you very much, it’s very exciting! Like I said, sometimes all you need to do is put your hand up. I did that, and I realized I was up to the task.

Fabian Luetzig: So, what’s some of the goals you have in the new role? What are some of the priorities that you want to set? 

Emily Kamunde-Osoro:  To be honest, this is still work in progress. This is still something I am thinking about. But what I have top of mind is as much as I will represent ICF as a Global Director, I always say “Charity begins at home”. I really want to make an impact in Africa, because this is where the opportunity is. If you look at the other markets, they’re quite advanced. The majority of coaches from a research that was done a few years back, the majority of those come from Europe and America. When you look at Africa, we still have a long way to. Africa and the Middle East. So I want to play in that space, I want to push the work of research and development a bit more. I want to be able to position Africa as the next market where coaching thrives. I want to position coaching for Corporates, especially in this particular market, to be able to drive performance and to be able to grow the corporate agenda. My personal view and from what I have seen in my short stint with ICF, we still need a lot of dates and information around coaching in Africa. Of course, with the exception of South Africa, which has the majority of coaches and many coaching schools. But I think the other countries, we still have an opportunity to find out how many coaches do we actually have? What work are they doing? What has been some of the success stories? Can we develop case studies that we can then share, that we can actually promote, that show the impact of coaching professionally, the impact of coaching in organizations, the impact of coaching for government, for society. We always talk about driving coaching for societal change. How can we take that conversation to a higher level? So, to answer that question, for me one of the biggest agendas is really to position coaching in Africa and to also be an ambassador for ICF in this particular market. And of course to learn, since I’ve never done this before. Learn all there is to learn. I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel. I think it’s about what’s been done that has really worked in certain markets. Are we able to replicate it to other markets? And also, to take the learnings from Africa to the other parts of the world. It’s a very exciting time for me. I am looking forward to it, especially looking forward to the learning, because I think you must first learn before you start giving. I am very conscious of that fact, that there will be a learning curve and of course there is always a lot to be shared from our own experiences.

Fabian Luetzig:  Best of luck with that! I’m sure you’ll do a tremendous job at it and you’ll be a perfect ambassador showing that there’s a lot going on in Africa, there’s a lot of dynamic people here that really want to make something happen. I’ve seen that in the brief period that I’ve been here, I’ve already witnessed that. I’m sure you will embody that on a global scale, and you will be able to make wonderful things happen there.

Emily Kamunde-Osoro:  Thank you.

Fabian Luetzig: So, time flies when you’re having fun. We haven’t even gotten to some of your more personal aspects. We’ve been talking about you a lot in terms of the roles that you’ve played in these organizations. Maybe we’ll save that for a future episode, because we’ve already been going for about half an hour. So, I’ll just ask you a couple more questions and that probably wraps it up for the first episode. Is that ok?

Emily Kamunde-Osoro:  Ok 

Fabian Luetzig: So, who is somebody, besides yourself, obviously, who people should follow or check out, because they’re either inspirational or they give good information, or they are a role model? Who would you recommend to people? 

Emily Kamunde-Osoro: When you ask that, then I’m thinking about my own people who I look up to. My own mentors, for example, who will not be known by the public. But, if you’re talking coaching matters, I think, then I’ll say Jean-François Cousin. I find him very inspirational, I find him quite seasoned in his field. He writes great articles and he speaks from the heart and from his experience, many years of experience. I personally found a lot of value as a young coach, reading through his lessons. I think he is somebody to watch out for. He is now the ICF Global President, somebody I admire very much. I like his versatility, his dynamism and energy.

Fabian Luetzig: And what coaching resource would you recommend to listeners, like a book or a maybe a different podcast, or a certain Ted Talk? 

Emily Kamunde-Osoro:  There’s a lot! One of the resources I like to tap into myself is John Maxwell. John Maxwell has great resources on coaching and I’m always finding myself going back there going through some of the tools that he has and the techniques of coaching. I’m currently reading coaching Dynamics by Marilyn Atkinson. I’m really curious to learn more and get to understand the whole piece around the Art & Science of coaching. That’s been my newest discovery through Erickson coaching International. I find those resources quite useful in understanding coaching from both an art and a science. So those are the two areas of resources that I’m really depending on right

Fabian Luetzig: Great, thank you for that! We’ll put links for that in the show notes so whoever is interested in that can find that easily and check it out

Emily Kamunde-Osoro:  Sure

Fabian Luetzig: So Emily, what’s the one thing you want listeners to take away from our conversation today?

Emily Kamunde-Osoro:  I always tell people that you should run your own race. Whatever it is that you’ve always wanted to do or dreamt of doing or becoming, I say just begin it. There is so much power and drive that comes from just making the first step. coaching is the one human development aspect that helps to push people towards that. If you’re stuck in that particular area, coaching will really do it for you. So I would say, you know what? Just start. It doesn’t matter what it is that you’ve been thinking about. The most important thing is, just begin. And it doesn’t matter where you’re at; it doesn’t matter where other people are. It’s your race, you run it. And… just begin.

Fabian Luetzig: Thank you. How can people get in touch with you when they want to know more about you, or they want to work with you?

Emily Kamunde-Osoro:  Well, I run a company called Rise & Learn Limited. You can find me through my email address emilykamunde@riseandlearn.org. You can check me on my website, I have John Maxwell website, and I also have the rise and learn website.

Fabian Luetzig:  Alright and again we’ll put the links to that in the show notes, in the description.

Emily Kamunde-Osoro, thank you so much for being the first guest on the Global Campfire of Coaching! I really appreciate your courage and your generosity in coming on here and sharing your experience with everybody. And we definitely have to have you on soon, because we didn’t nearly get to everything that I wanted to talk about today, but we’ll catch up with that in the near future then.

Emily Kamunde-Osoro: Thank you so much Fabian. I probably talked too much. Next time I’ll try to make my answers shorter 

Fabian Luetzig: No, no, that’s perfect, Emily. Thank you so much!

Emily Kamunde-Osoro: Thank you!