CEO INTERVIEW COACH CONNECTOR
New Success Stories - Asia
CEO Interviews - exclusive for HR Digital Today
with market leading HR Tech pioneers - Coach Connnector
Fraser Murray, CEO Coach Connector
Coaching senior executives is a key activity. Many know it exists but few have detailed information on the topic. Who are the best coaches? Where are they? Who can recommend one? What is the return on investment?
If you know a coach, they will never reveal their clients' names. An executive receiving coaching is unlikely to tell you they have a coach. So how do you get an insight into this process?
Coaching of senior company staff is an important service for companies and its popularity and recognised value is growing rapidly on a global scale. Companies are seeing positive results and a good payback for their investments. One example reported by a company was substantial new revenue growth across a division. But how do you find the best coach for the executive? Then, how do you get tangible figures to show the return on investment. This is the focus for our CEO interview today.
As with many of the services covered in our CEO Interview series, the idea originated from the calls of existing clients.
If you have never experienced the benefits of 1:1 coaching, or if you are currently seeking to find a coach for an executive in your company, the answers in this interview are very illuminating. Here, there are levels of detail you would not normally find. We met Fraser Murray, CEO, Coach Connector.
1. Please share with us briefly what you do.
I am CEO of CoachConnector.com and lead the organisation, including the team, suppliers, Advisory Board and investors.
2. What were you doing before this?
I was Training Director for Barclays and then managed a Talent Development Solutions company for 15 years. I left in 2002 and set up my own consultancy business for coaching and training, then gained qualifications as a coach on 2004. I then worked with about 60 coaches across the world, helping to deliver coaching in different countries.
3. In one sentence, how would you describe what your service does?
Coach Connector is a SASS Platform to enable companies to find and match with top executive coaches, to manage their coaching programme process and data, and to measure the effectiveness and value of all their coaching programmes through a unique ROI tool.
4. How did the idea for your business come about?
The idea came about two years ago. Our clients were asking us to help them to find coaches, especially in ASIA. I will not mention company names, but for example one client in Europe, a globally renowned company, told me they needed a good coach in Manila in the Philippines. Other clients required this solution in Sydney, Melbourne, others in Tokyo and New York. Indeed many locations for which in location that were not in their countries of operations.
They needed good quality coaches, usually in principal cities. These could be Bangkok, Singapore etc. Due to these requests our work load was soaring in intensity and demanding so much time, as we had to find really good coaches. It was taking so much time to do this really well. It would be better if it was on a system and we could then use that going forward and also let everyone have access to it.
This was the way the idea came into reality. Initially it was called the Naked Coach, after the idea of the Naked Chef in the UK, but unfortunately, sometimes, when you start to send emails to clients, they disappear into spam due to the word naked. We had to change it to Coach Connector.
As we started to develop this facility, we spoke in detail to our clients. They said it was helping them find coaches but could we help them to measure the return on investment. They had pressure from senior managers seeking answers on this point.
For example, if they had a new Head of Asia, maybe the Head of Risk Management for the region, how do they measure the result of the coaching investment. The HR Directors knew there was a need for coaching. From past experience they knew coaching really helped but they wanted to have the numbers behind it. They were investing US$10,000 for six months coaching of a senior executive, or it could be could be double this figure in some organisations. "It's a tunnel we are getting into, we know it's seven or eight or ten times return in value and we can see the transformation of the division, but we don't have that reckoning, could you help us?".
5. How does it work?
Clients and coaches sign up as free members. Clients can explore the site and see profiles of top coaches in various major cities around the world. Coaches market themselves under their own brand with links to their websites, feedback from their clients and all are encouraged to include a short video (1-3 minutes) which the clients really value. On seeing these, clients select the coach or coaches they would like to meet for a chemistry meeting. Invites and outcomes are automated and the coaching commences. Best practises include coaching objectives with desired outcomes and measures of success, scheduling of sessions, etc. Most coaching is conducted face to face but increasingly the modern thinking HR leaders are realising that great coaches can provide a fabulous service even when the coaching is conducted by video,
which means the can access the best coaches anywhere in the world. We encourage mid-point client reviews, and enable documented feedback from key stakeholders during and after the coaching programme, including a unique ROI measurement tool.
6. What are the key benefits that your service brings?
- Coach Connector connects organisations to top coaches, with video profiles and feedback from previous clients
- enables faster and more effective matching
- saves time by helping clients and coaches manage all their coaching programme data in one place
- enables clients to measure the effectiveness and value of all their coaching programmes through feedback comments and the unique ROI calculator which scores and rates each programme
7. Who are your closest competitors?
Currently no other company offers what Coach Connector offers. There are organisations such as Marshall Goldsmith and ICF where you can find coaches, but they don’t offer all the other services available on this platform.
There are also companies that “academically” measure coaching ROI by assessing all the costs (including coffees, taxis, and even the hourly salary costs of those completing feedback forms!) this is not what clients tell us they really want so our approach is faster and more pragmatic, looking at the “perceived impact” of the coaching on actual performance.
8. Who is your first customer and how did that happen?
Our first customer was a leading financial services company who wanted to improve the evidence of ROI by using the tools on our platform
9. What were they using before this, and why did they switch?
They were previously using a coaching company whose ROI was done by very thorough stakeholder interviews and a questionnaire showing progress against the management competency framework. They believed their existing provider was good but the interviews took a lot of time and the service was costly. They wanted something less time consuming and more focused on the coaching objectives. They wanted to be able to speedily compare and contrast results more easily against an industry benchmark and to ensure a high standard of coaching by ensuring the coach as well as the coachee’s performance.
10. How do you price your product?
We charge members 5% service charge of any coaching programme fees. If clients (or coaching companies) already have their own coaches and just want to hire the platform to manage the process and use the ROI tool, it costs 500 usd per coachee. There are separate pricing models for specialist programmes such as team coaching or INTERNAL coaching.
11. What’s your business focus for this year?
To establish the Coach Connector platform globally in ten major cities. More and more companies now realise when they need to find a really good coach anywhere, then we can help. This is what our service provides. The other key points are:-
We are able to give access to comments on coaches, as in a form of a Trip Advisor commentary.
We can provide data that gives the organisation financial measures on return on investment. The value of the coaching. This has always been a must have, but the data was never available. Now it is. Coaching is high value. As an average $10,000 is a typical fee a large company would invest on an executive. Indeed it could be double this figure, a sizeable investment. You really want to understand what is the return. Currently the average return on investment is seven times. The financial result is really useful to know.
Companies are referred to us due to the measurable value and scope of potential a good coach match can provide. Our advanced metrics allow them to measure return on the investment. Clearly as the numbers of coaches and locations grow, more and more can benefit with tailored matching and defined results showing the financial gains achieved. Perhaps we should call our company make the boat go faster!
12. What’s one productivity tip/app/tool you can't live without?
LinkedIn. People are connecting with us every day through that app. One day I think they will buy Coach Connector to offer to their clients!
13. Where can people find out more about your product offerings and you online?
We are doing various face to face promotional events in HK (30th Nov), London, Sydney, New York, etc.
We hold weekly video demonstrations for coaches and clients to learn more and to better understand their needs so we can continue to adapt our offering to meet their needs
You can also contact us through firstname.lastname@example.org or via our website at