The Sherpa Executive Coaching program at UGA’s Center for Continuing Education is the company’s flagship, drawing students from across the globe.

An executive coaching certification program at UGA’s Center for Continuing Education & Hotel is attracting students from around the world, and now includes former military who can use the G.I. Bill to pay tuition.

Army Col. Larry Reeves is the first student to complete the Sherpa Executive Coaching certification program at the Georgia Center using the G.I. Bill, which was approved for the program by the Veterans Administration earlier this year. Reeves said the experience will enable him to move into a post-military career.

“It really does change the way you think about a lot of things,” said Reeves, a resident of Vandenburg Air Force Base, California, where his wife is active military. “You start to live like a coach and hear things differently. I wish I would’ve done this years ago. It would’ve helped in my military career. It’s a new way to look at life and problem solve.”

The program, founded by Brenda Corbett and Judith Coleman, has been offered at UGA for over a decade and has become Sherpa Coaching’s flagship, with students from Japan and Australia enrolling.

It teaches future coaches a process to follow as they work with clients to identify strengths and weaknesses and find ways to improve business behavior.

Pam Bracken, who leads special projects and curriculum development for the Georgia Center, said most students have the same overwhelmingly positive reaction as Reeves. Participants have to attend two weeks of intensive coursework and complete a practicum with a client out in the field for 12 weeks.

Bracken took the class herself when she was looking to add an executive coaching program to the center’s portfolio.

“We wanted something that was process-driven,” Bracken said. “We read the book and interviewed graduates. We don’t want to be affiliated with just anyone. This is a program that has some teeth.”

Corbett said working with UGA adds credibility to the program.

“They’ve done the due diligence and we’re the best program they could find,” Corbett said. “That’s a big deal for us.”

Reeves decided on a post-military career in coaching when he was a coaching client himself. After a few months with the Sherpa curriculum he catches himself thinking like a coach in conversations with his wife and friends.

The practicum allows students to put the curriculum to use in real time. Reeves has been working with a small business client in California to complete his practicum. He checks in periodically with an advisor, who provides feedback. Students don’t get their final certificate until they’ve completed the practicum along with the classroom work.

“I’ve had more success than I expected with my first client,” he said. “I’d shudder to think there are programs out there that don’t do this, that they teach you and throw you out to the wolves. It’s probably the most important part of the course.”

Reeves looked into coach training closer to home. None explained the process or the curriculum up front as much as the Georgia Center, he said.

“Being able to go through, see expectations and understand the path I needed to take was incredibly beneficial,” Reeves said. “The fact that UGA, with its focus on academics, would stand behind it says a lot to me. ”

Writer: Christopher James, chtjames@uga.edu, 706-542-3631

Contact: Pam Bracken, pam.bracken@uga.edu, 706-583-0424