Catherine Li-Yunxia is a seasoned executive/leadership coach focusing on leadership development, executive coaching, and talent development. Catherine was recognised as ‘Top Coach’ by International WHW in 2015. Catherine is the founder, of Sunglow Leadership International and the founder & president of Working Mothers in Leadership (WMIL) Global (NGO).

Catherine’s areas of expertise include leadership development, executive coaching, and strategic talent development. Catherine has coached senior Executives fromStreet State of Bank, Macquarie, GSK, Microsoft, Barclays, ExxonMobil, Standard Chartered Bank, DBS, Mercedes Benz, IBM, Philips, NBC Universal, Fissler GmbH, Manulife to help them build leadership capabilities and to improve organisation effectiveness.

Catherine is a recognised expert in the area of leadership development. She has designed and delivered various leadership development programmes for leaders at all levels of the organisation.

Catherine has worked with leaders and high potentials to help them develop their own capabilities, deliver business success; and helped leaders transition into larger leadership roles. Catherine also helped leaders build skills in areas such as people leadership executive presence, leadership influence & impact, and organisational effectiveness.

For example, Catherine worked with a regional Managing Director in the financial industry to help him transition from head office into local APAC market. She helped the leader increase cultural intelligence, build an effective leadership team from a disparate group of people and coaching continued as they implemented changes in business strategy, people development, and employee engagement.

Prior to present professional Coach, Catherine has 16 years’ work experience in fortune 500 companies and held regional & global leadership roles. Catherine was the Director, Mainstream Engineering Education Sector APAC with Siemens Industry Software where Catherine was heading the division of education market development and significantly increased market coverage and customer bases in APAC as well as impacted on a global level.

Hey Catherine, can you tell us what important factors you look at when assessing which new clients to take on board?

I guess this comes from two dimensions. As the first dimension, I would understand their coaching needs and see if the areas of their need fall into my expertise. If their coaching needs are in the range of executive coaching, leadership development, and career counselling, then that’s what I help people with my specialty. Secondly, I would need to see how committed the client is- are they truly serious about deepening understanding of themselves, working on things and determined to change. If people are not serious/committed, I will choose not to work with them.]

Can you tell us about Sunglow Leadership and what was the incentive behind the launch?

Transitioned from technical excellence to Leadership roles incorporates in the first 16 years of my career, I had witnessed and experienced the challenges of business leaders; as well as felt and seen the struggles of leaders have. In the highly VUCA world, with increasingly challenges, e.g. digitalisation, multi-generations of employees in the same organisation, new ways of operating business, fierce competition, new consuming habits and preferences, people development, millennials, and even terrorism significantly impact on leading an organisation moves forward in an effective way. This makes leadership become more challenging. So in this fragmented business world, one of the biggest challenges in the world I would say is leadership. Hence, did it push me to the stage that I devote myself to helping leaders to lead more effectively, more inside out, more being self, more purposefully and more sustainably.

As you continue to grow, what important factors did you consider when looking at the scalability of your business model?

It’s a good question. I would say the current business model is pretty sustainable and scalable. Moving forward, I would like to focus more on leadership development and coaching on senior executives. By witnessing the challenges they face, I am more on a mission to help out and empower people to achieve sustained leadership.

What do you believe are the common misconceptions about being in the coaching industry?

People often mix coaching with training or consultation. Training is an intensive short fixed term based normally for 2-3 days, but coaching is a consistent basis for a rather long period of time, like 6-9 months. You normally learn a lot from 2-3 days training/workshop, but you may forget all once you finish training and go back to your day-to-day work/life with all daily activities you have, for example, meetings, emails, discussions, problems at work, travelling.

Even you still remember some but then you don’t really apply at work or you have no clarity on how to apply what you learned in training at work. However, coaching gives you clear ideas on how to apply techniques at work and practise. Again, because of the consistency, you have time and the chance to review and develop further each time when coming back to coaching session after 2 weeks. A simple example: its like you go to the gym and build your muscle. If you exercise for 8 hours for one day only or even 24 hours for 3 days, it won’t build your muscles. You will have to exercise a certain amount of time on a regular basis for a rather long period of time, then you will be able to build muscles. So coaching is the way of building muscles. 

Whereas coaching is not just consultation, coaching in most of the cases includes consultations because in some of the coaching sessions we as a coach provides tips, techniques, and share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with a client so we do provide consultation. However, consultation is not coaching. Consultation is that I am a consultant and I provide solutions to your problem, but as a coach, we sometimes do not provide solutions or even in some of the client’s cases a coach does not have a solution but a coach helps a client to find the solution themselves. Sometimes clients actually already have solutions in themselves but they do not know where the solutions are hidden, so as a coach we facilitate a space for clients to rethink, reflect and deepen thinking then guide them through the journey of finding their own solutions. At the same time, a good coach also does personal development while helping clients with their challenges/problems. Lastly, coaching is not transactional changes, but about achieving transformation.

What would you like to see changed for millennials in business?

One thing I like to see millennials are motivated, driven, innovative and working/living on purpose. On the other hand, I think it would be greater if they are more committed, willing to do groundwork and build foundations before able to achieve high & big impacts, able to think about sustainability rather than short-term effects, put people first before technology, look into themselves and care for social impacts. I guess it’s not just talking about millennials but for everyone regardless of age. I myself try to live on these ideas every day.

What is the number 1 critical lesson you have learned in your career so far?

To find something that aligns with my core values, so I know I work for a purpose and I live on purpose not just making a living.

The highlight of your career so far?

What I am doing right now- coaching people.

What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?

When my clients achieve transformation and make a breakthrough in their work/life and business.

How would you say you are intending to use your voice to educate others in the coaching industry?

Its like you’re flying an aeroplane. I am fully on and the plane is already taking off.

What is a good article or book you have read recently?

One piece of wisdom I have learned from the book ‘Tools of Titans’ is that discipline equals freedom. If you want freedom, you first have discipline. If you are well disciplined you can certainly potentially achieve freedom.

How do you measure your own terms of success?

Achieved my life goals, be a fulfilled self, and create a positive impact on people and the society, and develop my child into a fulfilled and resourceful person.

What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?

I think #BEYOUROWN just precisely describes me.



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