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