Get to know Nicole Provonchee, PRA Partner Coach and founder of Bright Blue Consulting

Nicole Provonchee has spent 20 years building a successful corporate career, specializing in marketing, communications and strategy. In her previous roles, she was offered executive coaching opportunities that led her to dive deeper into the work, impact and personal life she wanted to create. In 2017, she founded Bright Blue Consulting, an executive coaching and strategic planning business focused on helping professional women level-up their success.

Nicole specializes in helping women identify how to be successful by leveraging their gifts and talents and the unique environment in which they work. Her coaching leads women to identify where they need to change, mitigate or overcome career-limiting habits to get out of their own way. 

How has your background influenced your coaching style? 
My 20 years of experience allows me to understand the unique situations my clients are facing. I understand how hard it is to be the only woman in a room, navigate a matrix organization where you have to lead through influence and not authority, and balance work and life as an overachiever. 

Additionally, I am uniquely qualified to help my clients with their marketing and communication challenges. I help leaders refine their personal brand, communicate more effectively and identify how to better advocate for themselves in a way that works in their professional setting. 

We know you are passionate about helping women get out of their own way so they can become even more successful in their careers and lives. What do you believe holds most women back from achieving their next level of success?
There are no simple answers to this question. Working as a woman in our society means a woman has to discover where the “walls” are located in her department and the company’s gender-norm box. Women can often push against the metaphorical “walls,” but research shows us that men and women both penalize women who step outside the norms. 

How would your clients describe you as a coach?
Empathetic, engaged, energetic, challenging, and goal-focused.

What coaching methods and programs do you use to empower women?
My coaching is goal-focused. I work with clients to define success for the coaching engagement with specific goals they want to achieve and then establish a timeline. 

I encourage my clients to explore meditation or mindfulness exercises to increase their ability to be present, manage stress and improve their self-care. I often point women to resources they can use to continue to learn, including books, articles, podcasts, and more. 

What is your approach to or philosophy about coaching? 
I believe my clients often know the answers to their own questions, but they don’t sit with the questions long enough. I believe that a skilled coach creates a safe space for clients to explore areas of growth and try new skills. 

What advice would you offer women professionals about vetting and selecting a coach? 

  1. Start with the end in mind: Define your view of success over 6 to 12 months. It can greatly help your coach determine the best ways to support you if you know where you want to go.
  2. Interview multiple coaches: Listen to both your heart and your head. If you don’t feel comfortable or able to trust your coach, they’re not a good fit. 
  3. Ask about philosophies around coaching and the typical process: Don’t worry if your coach has experience with your company or industry. Focus on whether you can trust this individual and if you believe you will receive value from working with them.

How do you ensure coaching outcomes are aligned with the client’s business strategy/strategic objectives? 
I work with my client or the HR department to understand the culture, business strategy and objectives. I also ask my clients for performance metrics or other KPIs specific to their role or team. 

I start each coaching engagement by walking my client through an iterative goal- setting exercise to create realistic – yet challenging – goals. After reviewing their assessments, we may update the goals as we identify additional areas of growth. I also ask the coachee to present their goals to their manager for input. This allows me to watch the interaction between the coachee and the manager, as well as offers an opportunity for the manager to give feedback. 

How have you seen your coaching services impact the bottom line for women leaders, their teams and the companies that employ them? 
Many of my clients have P&L responsibility and can attest to how coaching has enabled them to repair key relationships, leading to increased levels of communication and collaboration and improving the department’s efficiencies and output. 

Share one of your most impactful/memorable coaching outcomes.
A few years ago, I was working with Jane (not her real name), an attorney in a large publicly held healthcare company. She had moved from a prestigious firm and was learning how to navigate a matrix organization. Jane had deep experience in the healthcare field and was also compassionate and a strong people manager. However, Jane lacked executive presence, struggled to address poor performers on her team, speak up in meetings, argue for her point of view and deliver a compelling presentation. Her inability to strongly state her case and fight for resources for her team quickly impacted her success. 

When I started working with her, she’d been in the organization for about nine months and was considering leaving. Her boss believed she could rise to the occasion and asked her to try coaching before she gave up.

At the start of her coaching engagement, I encouraged her to deeply envision what success would look like for her and her role. We developed concrete goals focused on the areas of greatest need, specifically demonstrating her expertise in a new corporate environment. We worked on everything from addressing a mindset that was no longer working for her to how to embody the leader she wanted to be. 

At the end of our coaching engagement, her boss congratulated her on the amazing progress she had made. She was more confident in her ability to make meaningful contributions at an executive level and was often invited to senior-level meetings as a subject matter expert. Jane became the leader her boss always thought she could be and the leader she envisioned.

What kind of measurable impact have you helped clients achieve? 
I have helped leaders transform how they interact with their teams. For example, many of the female leaders I work with expect their employees to “infer” their expectations, rather than stating them clearly. The simple adjustment of making a “clear request” has been transformative in raising the engagement and output of their teams. 

Additionally, I have coached leaders on how to structure accountability and performance conversations in a way that addresses specific concerns and sets clear expectations for employees. Many leaders have been able to raise the performance of employees and exit employees who are not a good fit for the role or organization. 

Lastly, I’ve worked with leaders on their self-promotion and self-advocacy efforts, resulting in increased resources allocated to their team. Recently, I worked with a small business owner that was able to increase her billable rates by 25% by making the case and then asking for it in a way that focused on her value and worth.

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