“Coaching is not just data and processes, it’s relationships”

Leading Pharma Director discusses the special relationship she has with her coach.

Teresa Rodo is a powerful person: she is Head of Global Healthcare Operations (GHO) at Merck KGaA, the leading science and technology company based in Germany. She works across 18 manufacturing sites globally, with a staff of 7,000 people. Almost since the day she joined Merck she has been working with Richard Colley, the founder of Sladen Consulting, the UK-based specialist consultancy with a reputation for delivering creative, effective, fun and powerful training and leadership services.
Together they make a formidable partnership.  When talking about Richard and Sladen Consulting, Teresa talks about “chemistry”, “unconventional” and “priceless”.
Teresa has known Richard since early 2017 and they quickly developed a deep and productive working relationship based on trust, friendship and respect for each other’s talents.  Since then, Teresa has accessed many of Sladen’s portfolio of services, for herself and for her teams, but at the heart of the relationship is Richard’s commitment to helping Teresa and her team to build on their own talents and values.
“A ‘safe place’ for me to bounce my thoughts off”
“Richard and his team were already working at Merck when I was introduced to them,” she says.  “I had a new job, needed to integrate fast and to put my stamp on the GHO.  Since then Richard has become a true sparring partner – we talk all the time even when we’re not engaged in a project. He is a ‘safe place’ for me to bounce my thoughts off.
“He asks a lot of questions – a lot! And he can be challenging.  More than anything, he gets me to ask the right questions of myself.”
Relationship Starts With 1-on-1 Coaching
At the start of her new job Teresa engaged Richard for a three month 1-on-1 coaching course, based on his reputation within Merck.  Out of this came her firmly-held mantra of being open, approachable, and empowering her colleagues.
She says: “Every one of the 7,000 people I work with knows that he or she has a direct line to me. And I have empowered them to take projects forward without my hand on the tiller – they can make decisions and they know I will not play referee. But they have my back and know I won’t be a bottleneck.”
This works because her teams have also worked with Sladen Consulting, to enhance their collaboration and leadership skills and to hone their ability to embrace their own empowerment.
Teresa has a confidence and ease about her role because she knows that every member of her team has invested in the same vision and co-developed the same road forward, many of them working directly with Sladen Consulting in the process by developing together a ‘rich picture’ which visualises the present and shows how the future would look like. 
Together, Teresa and Richard also organise and facilitate the annual ‘Make A Difference’ Conference for up to 200 Merck leaders.  An interactive two-day event where Teresa and her colleagues check their progress and focus on their new goals, the conference has become a ‘must attend’ occasion where people experience everything from ‘skill bites’ to enhance soft skills training to in-depth Q&As about strategy.
“Discussions can reach a very personal level,” says Teresa, “so people really open up.  But that’s Richard’s forte. 
“The real value of Richard and his Sladen team is that rather than just delivering ‘the fish’ to satisfy our immediate need, he ‘teaches us how to fish’ so we  can work more efficiently and independently now and in the future.   
“He has a sixth sense for how I am doing and that is the basis of how we work together.  It is not just data and processes, it’s relationships.  He is priceless.”


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