A Global Media Company Successfully Pilots a Customized Leadership Coaching Program

The Challenge

A large, global multimedia company headquartered in New York City partnered with Sounding Board to develop and pilot a customized leadership coaching program. The program was tailored to team-leader employees spanning the globe.

To succeed, the pilot program needed to:

The Solution

Sounding Board’s coaching approach focuses on 15 leadership capabilities. It relies on a technology-leveraged feedback approach to ensure that coachees are not only developing as leaders but also driving business impact. The feedback approach prompts managers to complete surveys at critical moments throughout the engagement, incorporated into the coaching conversations to ensure the coachee is developing in the right direction and understands how their growth impacts the business.

Sounding Board customized its coaching program to focus on six leadership capabilities identified as necessary to the multimedia company: Communicate the vision, Develop people to achieve, Network to get stuff done, Adjust the course, Create a diverse and inclusive work environment, Spot gaps and seize opportunities.

To ensure the client could reinforce leadership development beyond coaching, Sounding Board customized the coaching program to include manager alignment calls. These conversations were held with the coach, the coaches, and the coachee’s manager and gave the manager a “live” opportunity to provide real-time feedback about their team leader’s (the coachee’s) development goals. These conversations helped managers gain insight into how their team leader wanted to develop early in the coaching engagement and then provided both the manager and the team leader the opportunity to discuss how they could continue these conversations post-coaching.

Although coaching has been traditionally reserved for executives, the client saw an opportunity to invest in team leaders because this cohort has a high level of influence in aligning teams across the organization. As a global organization, the client also selected participants for the pilot across the Americas, Europe/Middle East/Africa, and the Asia Pacific regions to ensure a scalable, high-quality coaching experience that would support individuals with specific language and/or cultural needs.

Coachees were matched with coaches using Sounding Board’s automated coach matching model. Coaches and coachees met biweekly throughout the pilot program. In between coaching sessions, coaches and coachees used Sounding Board’s technical platform to stay connected and discuss how coachees were applying their learning to their jobs.

“[My report] increased her capacity to appreciate the views of others and to work to develop them. She expanded her horizons to think outside of her comfort zones and to draw out some fine work from others. She showed improved capacity to help others develop their own ideas, rather than imposing her own on them.”

The Result

The pilot had a high completion rate of 84 percent—this, despite an end-of-the-year kickoff and disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sounding Board’s coach-matching technology had a 95 percent success rate, and coachees reported an 87 percent satisfaction rate with their coaches.

In terms of improving targeted leadership development areas, 92 percent of coachees and 68 percent of managers agreed or strongly agreed that the coaching experience helped improve those areas. In addition, 92 percent of coachees said coaching helped them make progress toward developmental goals, and 84 percent of coachees said there was greater alignment with their manager because of the coaching experience.

The Sounding Board approach to measuring development enabled the client—for the first time—to measure progress for each leader, for each region and the overall pilot group. As a result of the coaching experience, coachees and managers reported outstanding growth across leadership areas:

Leadership Area
Coachees % Growth
Managers % Growth
Communicate the vision
Develop people to achieve
Network to get stuff done
Adjust the course
Create a diverse and inclusive work environment
Spot gaps and seize opportunities

In addition:

As an added benefit, nearly 30 percent of coachees also said that the experience had increased their job satisfaction. As one coachee said, “[Coaching] has helped me have a better understanding of where I enjoy working and developing most so I can continue to do so.”

Sounding Board provided a scalable, cost-effective solution for this client to invest in the development of their team leaders. Sounding Board continues to provide coaching for team leaders, kicking off an additional 50 coaching engagements with the intent to add coaching for mid-level managers.

“I have seen [my report] take it to another, more strategic level, particularly as she engages with her senior stakeholder. She spent time reflecting on what she wanted to get out of their first meeting, how to present herself as his new partner, what kind of questions would solicit the most meaningful responses etc.”

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Niall MacGearailt

SVP of Finance
Niall MacGearailt leads Sounding Board’s finance division as the SVP of Finance and Operations. Niall earned a solid track record of improving P&L and operational expense management for leading companies such as Whirlpool, Logitech, Avaya and most recently Soraa, where he prepared the business for acquisition by leading hi-tech lighting company, Ecosense. In his role, he is responsible for building and leading the finance & relevant operations functions for the company.

Ron Buell

VP of Engineering
Ron Buell is the VP of Engineering at Sounding Board and an accomplished software professional with extensive experience in leadership, software engineering, project management, and product management. Ron has led the development of highly scalable systems and applications across a variety of technologies for companies including OpenFeint (acquired by GREE), Rdio (acquired by Pandora), Lyris Technologies, and Lotus/IBM Software Group. In his role at Sounding Board, Buell is responsible for all engineering efforts in developing, deploying, and maintaining the enterprise software platform and team for the company.

Tommy Perkins


Tommy is at his best helping clients think through complex challenges in order to create a positive impact on their organizations. He thrives when interacting with others whether helping his team succeed or working with clients to build long-term partnerships. He has extensive experience consulting with organizations on driving their employee experience, guiding organizations through change, and working to ensure organizations are moving the needle when it comes to their results.

Most recently, Tommy was a Client Services Leader overseeing some of GP’s most prized accounts on a global level. His responsibilities included overall client growth strategy, retention, and satisfaction. He represented all of GP Strategies’ major business lines including leadership, coaching, and engagement, digital transformation, outsourced services, and technology implementation solutions.

Before GP Strategies, Tommy spent several years with TTEC Digital (formerly rogenSI) where he led the sales team,  eventually becoming the regional Learning & Performance practice leader for North America. While managing the P&L and sales team he also led the largest global relationship for the firm (Deloitte Globally). During his time at TTEC, he focused on delivering blended learning solutions that incorporate technology and hands-on training. Before TTEC Digital, he spent several years dedicated to strength-based leadership disrupting the business landscape regarding performance management and employee engagement with thought leader Marcus Buckingham at The Marcus Buckingham Company / TMBC (now ADP).

Tommy has had the privilege of working with some of the most well-known global brands in professional services, retail, technology, and healthcare including Deloitte, Facebook, Microsoft, Bank of America, Novartis, Gap Inc., lululemon, and Intel. Several projects he led for Deloitte were Global GNPS, New Partner Pivot, NextGen Partner Program Deloitte China, Present to Win, the RPM project on performance management, and Unconscious Bias.

Tommy holds a BS in Health Sciences from Texas A&M University, and an MBA from Universidad del CEMA.

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Lori Mazan

Co-Founder & CCO Sounding Board, Inc.
Lori Mazan is the Co-Founder and Chief Coaching Officer of Sounding Board, the preeminent global leadership development enterprise platform changing the face of leadership development through innovative technology for leaders at all levels of an organization. Lori is a seasoned executive coach who has guided hundreds of corporate executives through 1:1 coaching focused on business outcomes and developing critical leadership skills. Client companies advanced by Lori’s expertise include Fortune titans such as Chevron and Sprint as well as high growth and public companies like Intellikine, and Tapjoy, plus 10XGenomics, which became a public company in 2019 while top executives worked with Lori and the Sounding Board team.
Lori has spent the last 25 years coaching C-Suite executives to leadership excellence. Many of those public and private company CEO’s expressed that they would have liked this caliber of coaching earlier in their careers. Inspired by these experiences, Lori joined with Christine to launch Sounding Board as a feedback-driven, cloud-based leadership coaching platform that could maintain best-in-class leadership coaching while lowering costs to make it affordable and scalable for leaders at every level of their careers.
Before founding Sounding Board, Lori received her Masters’ in Adult Educational Psychology/Counseling from the University of San Francisco and a Bachelors’ in Psychology from the University of Virginia. Lori is an educator and has spent over 10 years as a professor of social psychology and group dynamics while acting as the interim Dean of Students at Holy Names University, She is certified by the industry’s gold standard, the Coaches Training Institute, and is a founding member of the Genentech Preferred Network of Coaches. Sounding Board is one of <3% of sole female founded startups receiving venture funding. In 2019 Sounding Board was selected as 1 of 7 startups (out of 100+ applicants) as part of SAP’s HR tech cohort, a group that represents the rising stars of the next-gen HR ecosystem.

Christine Tao

Co-Founder & CEO Sounding Board, Inc.
Christine Tao is the co-founder & CEO at Sounding Board, a Silicon Valley startup redefining how organizations are developing their leaders. Her extraordinarily rapid career growth to executive management in the media, mobile and tech sectors of Silicon Valley became her inspiration for founding Sounding Board. As she began to manage larger teams and be responsible for growing revenues, it became clear that she needed a “sounding board” to coach her on the development of her leadership skills. That’s where her Sounding Board co-founder, Lori Mazan came on the scene. A seasoned executive coach focused on leadership development, Lori coached Christine on real-world leadership skills that had a direct impact on business outcomes. Based on her positive and impactful experience with leadership development, Christine was driven to make leadership development coaching accessible to people at all levels of the organization.
Christine advises several startups, is a budding angel investor and is also a Tory Burch Foundation Fellow, a foundation dedicated to investing in the success and sustainability of women entrepreneurs.
Prior to co-founding Sounding Board, Christine was a Senior Vice President of Developer Relations at Tapjoy, a venture-backed, leading mobile advertising & publishing network. She led the growth of Tapjoy’s publisher advertising business from 0 to over $100 million in revenues in less than 3 years. Prior to that she led e-commerce partnerships and strategy at YouTube. Christine holds an MBA in Marketing & Operations from Wharton and a BA in Business Administration from UC Berkeley.