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Bridging the Gap between Consulting and Coaching… Gaby Da Silva Walks the Line

written byGaby Da Silvaon 05/10/2011

Coach Interview with Gaby Da Silva

Name: Gaby Da Silva
Practice Area: Life and Business Coaching
City: Montreal, Quebec  

Intelligent, ambitious, and brave, Gaby Da Silva was frustrated by the corporate world. Having just graduated with Honours from Concordia University in Montreal with her Bachelor's Degree in Human Relations, she was young, determined, and ready to tackle the world.

“I always wanted to make a difference, to change the world into a better place by helping people.”

Landing a job with the Federal Government in Ottawa, managing a team of twelve people, and developing processes, as well as many other projects interrelated with change, seemed like a great fit for her; however, she quickly found it had its challenges.  

“Unfortunately, I was being stopped in my creative tracks; the feedback I was getting from senior management was: fresh out of university means you are idealistic and naïve - we know best. I don’t mind paying my dues but I felt it was an uphill battle I didn’t want to have.”

Gaby took a leave of absence to have her two children, now 4 and 5 years old. She took this time to figure out what might better blend her university education with her passion for helping people, and a year ago, by a leap of faith, she found her answer.  

“I really just fell into coaching. I had heard about it, of course, and read a few things, and I loved the idea of talking people through their roadblocks. It just seemed to be a good fit for me.”

After thoroughly researching coaching schools and carefully weighing the pros and cons, she listened to her gut and chose Erickson’s program in Vancouver, BC. Her intention was to start her own consulting and coaching business; however, there was one small snag: 

“I had no idea what coaching really WAS! I figured it would be just like consulting, but boy was I wrong!”

As someone who was very confident in consulting and advising people about their businesses and careers, she was shocked to learn that coaching required the polar opposite approach.

“I couldn’t tell people what to do! There’s a lot of pressure when you’re consulting because people are, in essence, following the direction you’ve given them, and when I started coaching I found that pressure went away. At the same time, I found it frustrating to have to sit back and encourage people to find their own solutions; I kept wanting to just tell them what to do.”  

Of course, her frustrations were brief, and after much practice and support, Gaby found herself maximizing this new approach. She completed Module V in December of 2010 and received her ECPC (Erickson Certified Professional Coach) certificate and her ACC (Associate Certified Coach) certificate from the ICF (International Coach Federation) at the end of February of 2011. Once she was comfortable with Erickson’s principles, their map of specific solution-focused questions, she found she could relax and trust her instincts about the “flags” in client conversations. Now her coaching flows.

“Now that the principles are ingrained, I can listen more comfortably to what my clients aren’t necessarily saying. Or what they’re not realizing they’re saying; those important clues that give me insight into their challenges.”  

In fact, she finds the philosophy, which focuses on people’s resources rather than limitations, liberating and exciting, both for her clients and herself. While completing Module I, she decided to try one of the techniques on her daughter, aged 3 at the time. While visiting a restaurant washroom, her daughter noticed a hole in one of the walls. Wanting to encourage her imagination, Gaby asked her where she thought the hole came from, and was given the usual stock response of “I don’t know". Nonplussed, Gaby coached her into a more creative space and was amazed by the results.

“All of a sudden her world opened up - she was coming up with the most imaginative reasons to explain how this hole might have happened, and it was the perfect example of how people can create so much more for themselves when they are in a relaxed, creative, and imaginative space. They can access so much more.”  

So now Gaby has found the perfect blend: she enjoys doing leadership consulting, training, and presentations for organizations, but she also holds separate coaching sessions with management and business professionals who want to reach the next level or stand out in their professions.

“It’s great; I can consult on what’s needed for the corporation as a whole, and also coach individuals towards achieving their own personal goals as well.”

In addition to her simple, direct, and clear coaching, the bonus of seeing Gaby means that, after a session, if she feels there are specific tools that may benefit the client, she can pass those suggestions along and they receive the best of both worlds.   And after balancing consulting and coaching, does she still find time to balance work and home life?

“Absolutely! The beauty of being a self-employed coach and consultant is that I have a flexible schedule that allows for family time.” So she can foster imaginations at work and at home.