Mela Chamberlain, PCC, CMC
Executive Coach and Management Consultant
Mela Chamberlain’s coaching journey started serendipitously, but also intuitively. She was one of the leaders of Philam Lile (now AIA Philippines) attending Benchmark Consulting’s Coaching for Success workshop, and they showed a short movie clip from “Memoirs of a Geisha”, where Mameha (Michelle Yeoh) was showing Sayuri (Zhang Ziyi) how to become a geisha. “Is this coaching?” Julius Ordoñez asked the class. Out of the 30 participants there, Mela as the only one who said no. Somehow, she knew intuitively that real coaching meant that people need to articulate their objectives and arrive at their own conclusions and solutions themselves, with the coach asking powerful questions and holding up a mirror for them to see more clearly.
With her interest piqued from that first encounter, she pursued professional coaching, at first in conjunction with her career in the insurance industry, then eventually realizing she wanted to focus on coaching as her main career. “My pivotal moment was realizing that the work that we do as coaches is so deep and profound, it is almost spiritual.” That fulfillment, plus the validation she received from her coaching clients that she was doing something truly helpful, is what really changed the game for her. She flourished as an Executive Coach, but has also been developing and growing her practice as a Life Coach.
It took Mela a while before she decided to pursue the ICF credentials. In fact, it was long overdue by the time she went for the ACC credential, and then earned her PCC credential during the pandemic. “I realized the credentials are really important—first and foremost, to make sure that what you’re doing is correct. There is so much value in holding yourself against an international standard. And, since coaching is growing globally, with so many more professional coaches joining the fold year after year, the credentials definitely give you an edge.” Mela also became the President of the ICF Philippines Chapter in 2016, growing the organization to over 50 members for the first time in its history, which paved the way for it to become a charter chapter.
“If I had one piece of advice to give new coaches, it would be to Focus. There is so much internal work that we have to do as coaches. As humans, we have our patterns of thought and behavior, and it is natural for us to want to teach or fix or solve others’ problems for them, because we are proud of what we know and what we have learned. It is natural for us to want to share that with others. But that’s the trap. We cannot hold on to what we think makes us good. To coach, we need to be completely open and listen to the other person.” She also advocates reflective practice after coaching sessions and believes it is critical to ask ourselves what went well, what we could do better, in order to keep improving our coaching skills.
Coach Mela has recently moved to New Zealand, and is looking forward to growing her practice there while still maintaining her clients and projects in the Philippines remotely.