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  • Writer's pictureEric Wo

Jessica Heller Katz (MBA 06)


Hiking and dinner with my Emory MBA classmate Jessica Heller Katz and her husband Kevin.

Strangely enough, I recall first meeting Jessica on an MBA orientation hike at Sweetwater Creek organized by our MBA program administration.

I wish I had the original group photo, so I can look back and see where a number of our friendships began. Well soon after I posted on Facebook my meet up photos with Jessica, another classmate dug up that specific Emory MBA hiking photo and sent it to me privately.

I must say I have pretty awesome classmates.

Jessica originally grew up in the suburbs of Philly. She attended Emory’s MBA program, met Kevin, a high school history teacher, married, and was thinking of settling in Atlanta. Due to a health scare with her mother, Jessica put her plans to buy a home in Atlanta on hold.

She eventually decided to move back to Philly to be closer to family in 2007. Thankfully, her employer at that time, Deloitte, had offices in Philadelphia, so she and her husband moved back in the city and lived in downtown for 12 years.

They now own a really awesome historical home in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia, have a boy, a girl, and two cats.

Currently, Jessica works as an Executive Career Coach and MBA Coach at the Wharton School of Business at University of Pennsylvania.

I asked Jessica two questions:

Question 1: What does an executive career coach do?

Jessica views her role as a coach is to help individuals thrive and find fulfillment in their careers. She takes what people are already doing well in their life, help them understand what’s important to them, assess the goals they would like to reach, and through questioning and self-reflection, help them reach their goals.

People who view their careers as a calling, or with some higher purpose, are happier. They also make more money. They are overall more satisfied in their life, and so part of her role as a career coach at Wharton is to help students clarify what’s important so that they don't just jump into banking, consulting or whatever MBA career without deep personal reflection early on.

Question 2: How does one find a good career coach?

A good coach is kind of like dating. There's a chemistry aspect to it.

A lot of coaches have various specialties, but there is a governing body that is important. If you are looking for a coach, Jessica suggests maybe look for a coach in a specific area or a specific niche.

You can search for these, but be sure the coach is certified. For example,Jessica is a professional career coach with credentials from the International Coach Federation. Most corporations hire executive coaches that have a PCC. One must go through an extensive program and have a number of coaching hours to be certified.If you are looking for a coach, Jessica suggests looking for one with a PCC certification or above.

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