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DCE Magazine

Alumni Spotlight: Personal career coaching is the secret ingredient to success for this UCI alum

Summer 2018

What to do when you've already achieved athletic and professional success and you're still driven to accomplish more? What's the next step for a self-described “driven, innovative, entrepreneur disruptor” like Thomas Valentine, a 49-year-old business consultant and three-time national cycling champion?

“I achieved excellence in cycling, and I've been super successful in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries,” said the Irvine resident. “And I'm at the point where I receive a lot of job offers from top-line companies. But I want to work for myself now. I want to be a professor and author, teach online courses and write books on reaching your goals through visualization and motivation.”

To advance his career goals, Valentine went back to get his MBA at UC Irvine's Paul Merage School of Business — his second master's degree — and now he's about to start working on his Ph.D. in performance psychology from Grand Canyon University.

But there was a missing element. Valentine felt the need for one-on-one professional career coaching, so he signed up for InsideTrack, a program offered through the UCI Division of Continuing Education.

“I know what it's like to have expert coaching from someone who can really make a difference,” Valentine said. “When I was younger my cycling coach was Eddie ‘B’ Borysewicz, coach of the 1984 U.S. Olympic cycling team that won nine medals. He's one of the best of all time, and he coached me to be a champion. I wanted that same advantage in my professional life.”

Valentine wanted the one-on-one support and personal guidance. He needed someone he could bounce ideas off of, and come back with valuable feedback, he said.

“I needed a professional who could challenge me and offer a new perspective on achieving my goals,” Valentine said. “My personal InsideTrack coach, Tina Jones, is exactly what I was hoping for and more. Tina gives me homework, things to work on, then gives me feedback and advice. I couldn't do this without her.”

He talks to Jones once a week for about 30 minutes, and they frequently exchange emails and texts. Her coaching is now an essential part of his day-to-day drive to succeed at his ambitious new direction.

“I don't want a functional job anymore. I want to teach and inspire. I want to write self-help books, for lack of a better description. And why not? Tina has taught me to believe in myself and just go out and do it. Other people teach college classes, other people write bestsellers. Why not me?”

Sometimes she'll direct him to lucrative networking opportunities. Other times she'll advise him to move on from past connections that have dried up. Always, Jones encourages and prods Valentine to push himself just a bit further. And sometimes she'll advise him to back off and take a few days off to enjoy with his wife and two young sons.

Every time, his InsideTrack coach, well, keeps him on track. And when he's not talking with Jones, Valentine accesses online career guidance modules like Strategies for Job Search and Networking Pitch. Valentine used the latter to develop a headline, career goal and direction. Then he practiced the pitch verbally with Jones to get ready for interviews.

“Tina did mock interviews for commercial jobs and Ph.D. programs,” he said. “She sends me specific articles to read before our weekly call and we discuss strategies to execute them. The modules in conjunction with one-on-one coaching are so valuable.”

He was even a participant in an InsideTrack webinar, in which he and other students were peppered with career-related questions from university professors.

“I subscribed to the full InsideTrack Career Accelerator package to develop networking opportunities and get personal coaching, and it has been an invaluable service,” he said. “I figured I have all the right ingredients. I just needed someone with the right recipe to help me bake the cake.”

Having excelled as a champion amateur cyclist who barely missed the cut for the U.S. Olympic team, Valentine set out to access his drive and motivation to succeed in the business world — and he found almost immediate success in the healthcare industry.

Armed with a fresh master's in science, he found a position with global biopharmaceutical firm Sanofi and quickly began moving up the corporate ladder, promoted seven times in the Sanofi management training program. He became a certified field trainer, corporate trainer, and advisory board member.

“I used training from the UCI Merage School of Business to excel my career as a manager and in leadership,” he said. “I used the same focus and mindset as an elite athlete, basically focusing on the task at hand, setting goals and working on the process to achieve these objectives.”

Today, while pursing his Ph.D., Valentine serves as a business development consultant with OrthogenRX, a biotech company. “Our former medical director at Sanofi asked me to consult with his start up,” he said. “I use my business analytic skills and practical healthcare experience.”

But now it's time to launch a new chapter in his life, and InsideTrack is an essential component of that mission. And since UC Irvine is in partnership with InsideTrack, Valentine received a discount rate on the Career Accelerator package, one of three which are available to UCI students and alumni, along with Career Essentials and Career Plus.

“With today's complex, ever-changing job market, UCI DCE takes very seriously our commitment to our students and alumni to support them in building a successful and rewarding career,” said Gary Matkin, Dean of Continuing Education. “Our partnership with InsideTrack enables us to offer convenient, affordable access to the high-quality career planning services our students and alumni deserve.”

Founded in 2001, InsideTrack has coached more than 1.5 million students through its partnership with more than 1,600 academic programs. In a recent survey of students engaged in InsideTrack career coaching at an Ivy League professional studies program, 95% of the students felt that it helped them make progress toward their career goals.

Valentine clearly counts himself among the 95%. “I would highly recommend subscribing to InsideTrack to anyone who might be interested,” he said. “It can complement an academic or professional career in ways that can change your life.”