Case Studies

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Developing Innovative Leaders for High-Impact Organizations

We work closely with senior leaders and executive teams on their strategic vision, leadership amid change, and honing the way they communicate and collaborate with others. Because our clients know that their effectiveness—and the ultimate success of their organization—depends on their continued growth as a leader.

We work closely with senior leaders and executive teams on their strategic vision, leadership amid change, and honing the way they communicate and collaborate with others. Because our clients know that their effectiveness—and the ultimate success of their organization—depends on their continued growth as a leader.

Read a Few Examples of What This Looks Like in Action

A CFO Develops His Influence in a Family-Run Business

Now this CFO has a lot of deep stakeholder support from key leaders across the organization. He has a lot more influence throughout the organization and he’s helped the company raise standards for their employees while keeping the collegial feel they value.

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A CEO Expands Her Range & Capacity to Meet Challenges Head On

The CEO is now growing her company in a way that’s more sustainable for both her investors and her personally. While the A round of funding is pending, the CEO gets less bogged down by input and feedback.

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A Group of High-Potential Employees Create More Impact & Influence in Their Organizations

In addition to having the space to problem-solve current career issues, the majority of participants reported having less workplace stress overall, greater awareness of their executive presence, and an increased ability to work better with others. Several representative participant outcomes are detailed below.

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When a Working Group Becomes a Team

The infighting stopped – along with the frustration and negativity that was spilling into other working groups. Within four months, a team that had barely been talking to each other had regular bi-weekly meetings.

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What Our Clients Are Saying

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“Jo’s impact on our team is already being felt and will continue to be felt for a while. We needed our small team to gel as fast as possible so they could transition into a mature team quickly during our reorganization. Our major work was transitioning the succession of leadership. Jo helped take on the responsibility of making sure that the team was working effectively so I could focus on the day-to-day operations of the group. She has helped me in developing, maturing, and feeling comfortable in addressing tough issues; you develop the confidence that you have the right coach. The team gelled thanks to Jo and her team. We were able to transition the new members into bigger leadership roles on time. They are working very well with each other. The coaching has helped our team to implement ideas in a very organized way.”

Naveed Shams
Head of Global R&D, Santen

“Jo’s coaching has helped me get overall clarity on how to do my role effectively, providing more courage and the ability to express myself more professionally. I’m in a fast-paced biotech, and initially I felt like I was wearing too many different hats. Coaching has given me more confidence in my role. It sped up my development very quickly. Jo was really good at breaking my thoughts and concerns down into simple bullets. She could listen to what I was saying and interpret it into actions or help me decipher what I was trying to say. I’m calmer, more direct. I have more courage to have direct conversations as well as some difficult conversations. Jo helped me grow professionally into a better manager. It’s helped me have more of a work-home balance as well.”

Jenny Holt
VP, Program Managment, 4D Molecular Therapeutics

“Working with Jo has been the best professional development experience I’ve ever had. I feel much more confident and happy at work. Working with Jo, I’ve developed a bigger vision for my work. I can act on many more opportunities in my current job and I now better understand how to use my power for the good of the organization. I’ve become more calm and open in times of intense leadership discussions and questioning, too. I feel much more collaborative and can now model good collaboration practices for my staff as well. Overall, I am a lot more confident working with my staff, the leadership team, and our board. Thanks for all you do for me!”

Amy Donovan
CFO, Alameda County Community Food Bank

“I was facing one particular problem at work and I needed some tips and ideas to improve my strategies. I also really wanted a second opinion and “reality check” on how to improve the situation. Wow! I got that and so much more. As a result of working with Jo, my confidence vastly increased and I developed advanced new skills in creating sustainable solutions for myself. I’ve worked with other coaches who were more like facilitators; but what I loved about Jo was her skill, knowledge, and experience in workplace challenges. She taught me how to thrive here. Our time together was definitely worth the investment.”

Ruchi Goyal
Director of Product Management, eBay, Inc

“After attending a Jo Ilfeld workshop and being so impressed by the content and impact, I had to ask her if she could give a workshop at my company, Genentech. Jo’s workshop “Mastering the Art of Results” was such a huge success. All the reviews were positive. The high energy in the room, focus and audience engagement were perceivable. The attendees came away from the workshop inspired, better equipped to lead their teams, get more visibility for themselves and to take greater charge of their careers. After the first workshop, we absolutely had to ask her to give several more. Jo’s presentations are well-constructed, visually pleasing and have immediate, practical utility. Her warm, approachable and generous personality comes through with professionalism and purpose–she wants to see women succeed in their careers and in their life choices.”

Ann Daugherty
Genentech

“We hired Jo to work with an customer-facing team that was not functioning cohesively. Jo’s work with our team was incredibly valuable and productive. She helped us create a framework for our shared goals and values, facilitated teambuilding exercises and enhanced our communication and conflict resolution skills. The team is working more collaboratively and functioning on a much higher level as a result of our work with her.”

Barbara Darrow-Blake
Chief Development Officer, Alameda County Community Food Bank

“Being senior career-wise doesn’t mean it gets any easier figuring out what to prioritize. Just putting everything into perspective was helpful. I feel a lot lighter and it has given me the time to focus on other, more meaningful things as well. Jo was truly invested in who I was, how I was developing and was always open and non-judgmental. Another thing I learned from Jo was techniques around managing a team. Now I invest even more time and energy on building relationships with my team and really understanding them. I realized with Jo that I wanted to be somewhere where I could lead and I could build, and now I’m in a job where I can do just that. I’m so thankful for Jo because it was a strong reminder that you have the power within to make that change. I’m a happier person, and a more balanced leader from what I learned through Jo.”

Alex Seiler
Partner, Head of Human Resources, Americas, Control Risks

“Jo spoke recently at a Women in Leadership breakfast that I co-host. What a joy to have her! She is vivacious and fun, warm, and approachable. Despite our early morning start, she was quick to engage us and get us to begin to flex the skills that were the subject of her workshop entitled “Mastering the Art of Results: 3 Essential Skills to Create High-Performing Teams, Stand Out & Get Promoted. We received great feedback about Jo’s presentation and activities. Our guests got a lot of value from the information she shared.”

Lauren Galbraith
Farella, Braun And Martel, LLP

“I started working with Jo when I realized the business needed a different type of leadership to transition from being a start-up to a bigger company. And my team did develop, in terms of relationships, communication, buy-in and forward movement; we turned a corner and grew. I chose to work with Jo because she quickly understood and synthesized my experience, even when it was hard for me to articulate. Jo had the perceptiveness to take in disparate thoughts and pull them together.  She got the picture and presented it back to me with different options of how I might think differently and find the most effective way of moving forward. I really am grateful for the time I had working together with Jo.”

Ginny Fang
CEO, Golden Gate Global

“Working with Jo has been an amazing journey, she came along at a time in my life when I needed her most and I am a better leader for working with her. Jo has been instrumental to my growth and now I can actually celebrate my successes, including my best sales year ever! Her insights and recommended reading was transformative. She really helped me set priorities and focus on the bigger picture. Through my coaching with Jo, I’ve changed so much. Let’s start with my staff and partners, I’ve grown as a leader and my relationships with then have flourished. It was a priority for me to gain control over my work/life balance, and I have. I have learned to depend on myself and that if I make it a priority, it will get done. I have improved my self-confidence and learned not to be so hard on myself, and that I am okay just the way I am and it is good enough. I’m now in a position where I can help and mentor my colleagues. As a coach Jo helped me identify my values and provided valuable feedback that I could put into action. Just having Jo in my corner has been a big boost to my leadership and I have tools that I didn’t have before meeting her. I can still hear her voice in my head – it is reassuring, comforting and powerful.”

Daphne Boyle
Director, Sitzmann Morris & Lavis

“Engaging with Jo was a key part of my professional growth as a leader. There was a big difference between what I was doing and what I was going to be doing; I doubled the number of people that I was responsible for and took on an entirely separate part of the business that I did not have any real direct knowledge of. I owe where I am professionally right now to Jo. Now I feel far more comfortable in my role. I have more trust and understanding with my direct reports and my teams. I’m a much more effective leader. Jo is able to meet people where they are. There’s an instant understanding and connection there. I am continuing to grow because of Jo.  Putting trust in her process is going to get someone the results they’re looking for.”

Michael Altfest
Director; Alameda County Community Food Bank

“We’ve grown pretty quickly from 10 people to 20-30. We needed help navigating decisions on hiring and restructuring. Coaching allowed us to focus on bigger-picture business decisions and delegate the day-to-day managing of all the teams to managers. Jo also led us through strategic planning exercises that made us look at things a different way so we can focus on business development and growth. We’re a business partnership, not a regular couple. Jo gave us guidance on how to communicate better, respect each other’s differences, and hear each other’s opinions in healthier ways. We’re able to move on from things quicker and not take things personally when we disagree. Jo is really, really good at listening, remembering every issue we have, and revisiting to check up on us. She helped us tremendously.”

Adam Dove and Alicia Fabbri
President & Vice President, Carrie Dove Catering

“My coaching with Jo has been transformative and fundamentally changed my life. My leadership role as CFO demanded a better way of managing my work relationships. I now understand the way I process information and interactions and can think more clearly about how to respond, allowing me to manage any situation much more effectively. I would definitely recommend Jo to other executives who want to increase their leadership skills and presence.”

Jeanne Adler
CFO, Huneeus Vintners

“I started working with Jo because I realized that I was at a place in my career where I wanted to have a stronger and more powerful voice both at board meetings and in other work situations, and I wanted to do some purposeful planning about my next career steps. As the only lawyer at my firm, I play many different roles and there is never downtime for me to engage in career development (or so I thought) – working with a coach has been instrumental in forcing me to be both more strategic and focused on my own leadership development and allocation of time. My work with Jo has been transformative for me. I am more confident and positive overall so that I express my opinions and expertise in high-level meetings while more easily ignoring those negative voices in my head. I’m also setting limits with others at work to focus on my highest priorities for my company as well as making time for my personal aspirations. I would recommend Jo because she was able to provide objective observations, advice, bite-sized deliverables, and encouragement as we tackled the priorities that were important to me during our work together.”

Anne-Marie S.

“One of my challenges was being a perfectionist. It was hard to delegate and relinquish some control to my direct reports, resulting in a significant impact on my bandwidth. Working with Jo, I’ve gotten much more comfortable at identifying opportunities for others so that they grow professionally. It’s freed me up to be more strategic for the company. I’m more confident in my ability to delegate and in recognizing the potential in others. Jo really gets to the root of what you’re trying to work on, and she gives you concrete ways to change. She was patient, she was insightful, and she helped me obtain some very realistic goals that have helped me grow professionally. Jo is an amazing coach.”

Jeff McLeroy
Executive Director; Kite Pharmaceutical

“I wanted to move beyond my comfortable technical focus to a business-oriented, strategic awareness and influence. Jo’s experiences developing leadership and communication skills in tech professionals and helping her clients solve well-defined problems resonated with me. She was an attentive listener who gave constructive feedback without being judgmental, a combination that had been hard for me to find. The time I worked with Jo ended up being among the most stressful of my career and family life but, with her guidance, I developed a set of tools to keep myself inspired and energized. I learned how to express myself in a more influential, natural way in key conversations (using a ‘signature voice’) and how to be proactive when working with difficult people. Now when co-workers ask me for my opinion, I can shift from a technical focus to a strategic/future level view in order to optimize the impact for myself and my team. I’m also managing my time better so I can fit more results into the workday. Finally, with Jo’s help, I’ve developed strategies I need to ground myself and calm down so I can think more clearly in ‘hot’ situations and develop more effective responses. Overall I feel more confident and fulfilled and I’m using the techniques I’ve learned with Jo to identify and develop new areas of expertise with my team, which could result in new business directions and new products for my company.”

Grace Credo
Senior Research Scientist at Intel Labs

“I started coaching with Jo because I wanted to get some help with time management and prioritization so I could have more balance in my life. I got that and even more! I got useful tools to help manage both short- and long-term goal-setting, prioritization, and time management. Before that, I had a to-do list and whatever was closest to the bottom got the most attention. With my new tools, I am more clear about what has to be done every day and every week, so I have a more focused outlook and don’t have to be as worried about where to direct my energy. This has helped me to feel less stressed, more organized, and I have the space to think long-term about how I want my career to look and what roles I want to be doing. In addition to achieving these goals, I also found it helpful to get Jo’s perspective, plus her knowledge and skills, for whatever was going on, including how to handle certain situations and communicate with and/or coach both my clients and people I manage. I would definitely recommend Jo as a coach because there were tangible benefits to my career and real tools that I have taken with me to use on my own after our work was complete. It was helpful, productive, and a very good use of my time.”

Josh C. Nathan
Senior Associate, Freed Associates

“Jo is smart, insightful, and honest. She is able to see complex problems with such clarity. What I liked most about having Jo as a coach is that she understands the issues and challenges business owners face – she’s started both a retail and service business! Jo has helped me gain a new perspective and I see the impact of her work express itself in so many aspects of my life – with work, family, and friends. She has given me the tools and insight to be resourceful, which means not just using your head but also tuning into your gut instincts! I highly recommend Jo!”

Anna Patty
Founder and CEO, Mamoo

“Our fast-paced synthetic biology startup has a young workforce that is hungry for training and needs to develop a broad range of soft skills. Jo helped us craft several workshops aimed at developing managers, leaders, and individual contributors to train them how to have effective career discussions, and how to engage in difficult conversations, among various other programs. She listened to our needs and developed learning experiences to introduce materials and approaches and her design always involved action learning and real-time simulations. She has facilitated these workshops several times and we continue to bring her back to do more. In all instances on workshop evaluations, 100% of the participants report that she is an engaging and effective facilitator. We look forward to working with her again!”

Jonelle Rodericks
Head of L&OD, Zymergen

“I’ve been a long-term fan of Jo’s work and knew she would be an ideal speaker for our Refresh Your Career: Connect•Work•Thrive Conference in Silicon Valley. Our conference attendees are highly educated, successful professionals, so it was imperative to offer articulate, thoughtful, and innovative speakers and topics to motivate and guide attendees into effective action. Jo delivered on all this and more. Her workshop “Your Fear of Failure is Slowing Your Success: How To Get Over It, Starting Today” resonated with participants of all ages and stages. The audience was eagerly engaged throughout the workshop – a large group of participants surrounded her after she spoke, and attendees sought her out throughout the day. Attendees rated her workshop 9.7/10. Many participants commented that they were determined to take new risks in their careers using the strategies Jo offered. I am confident that Jo’s talk inspired many attendees to immediately jumpstart successful new habits.”

Johanna Wise
CEO, Connect•Work•Thrive

“I started coaching because I was having a rough time at work after I had been promoted to SVP. I needed some help to understand how I could make the shift from being a manager to being a leader. When Jo first started with me, our company had ended the year with very bad financial performance and my team was a big part of that. I needed to know how to be an effective leader and turn those results around. My management quality index went from in the 60th percentile to 100% this year, a change that happened because of my work with Jo. I now have the highest score in terms of managing change in the company as a leader. Our work together helped me not just professionally, but personally as well; I’m now a better parent and take vacations more because I’m more effective and yet have completely changed how I structure my time and lead.”

Amy Yao
Chief Actuarial Officer, Blue Shield of California

“Jo is a key component in my personal and professional growth. She brings a depth of perspective and frameworks in thinking that has been invaluable – she asks thought-activating questions that allow me to find answers for myself. She helped me see who I am and recognizes me for things I didn’t and don’t naturally see in myself. Jo has been a gift – a strong partner, sounding board and a balance in my journey.”

Angela McArthur
VP- Blue Shield of California

“Jo conducted an excellent training and team building daylong workshop for my full leadership team. After working with Jo as my coach, I knew she would be the perfect person to hire to help my team overcome some fears around failures and collaboration that had cropped up working together to move our product launch decisively forward. Jo quickly understood the issues I was up against with my team and designed and executed the perfect day filled with learning, team-building, and productive strategizing. My team said that it was the most helpful workshop they’ve had and we are already putting her strategies into action to make tough decisions and accelerate our product launch. Given that most of the team lives overseas, I am also impressed that Jo’s material could translate so well to such a multi-cultural team.”

Michal Wroczynski
CEO and founder at Fido Labs

“When I started coaching with Jo, I felt like I was having a blockage getting stuff done, but when I started following my intuition more, I realized I’m not a lazy person. If I feel stuck, there’s a reason for it – it’s the wrong thing to be doing! Now, I delegate more things and say no to certain requests. I feel more control over how I spend my time and I feel more at peace. Even others have noticed that I’m happier. I’m taking charge of situations instead of letting them roll me over with an outcome I didn’t want or wouldn’t make me happy. Jo has a great way of bringing in an outside perspective and helping me try new ideas and problem solve. She’s seen a lot of other successful people and businesses and how they work so she’s able to gather all these insights into helping you figure out how you can work better and smarter.”

Julie Siegel
CFO at Geologic Resource Partners

“I hired Jo because I was at a standstill in my career – trying to figure out what I like to do, what I was good at, and what my next steps should be. I now have a new project and it fits perfectly with what I want. Without Jo, I wouldn’t have called the organization where I’m working now and been so clear about what I wanted to do, and how I could do it in a way that I love. Jo helped me with issues such as self-doubt and fear that I didn’t even realize were holding me back. I am so happy with my work and feel like I am able to take more risks – finally! Jo is great at seeing the specific issues that prevent you from moving forward and making non-judgmental recommendations that truly get you unstuck and moving forward in your career.”

Laurie Isenberg
Business and Marketing Strategy Consultant

“I started working with Jo because I knew I wasn’t portraying enough confidence with my co-workers and clients and I wasn’t yet poised to take on the bigger stretch leadership positions that I wanted. Working with Jo has been a fun and liberating experience. I’ve grown a lot personally and professionally through our work together that would not have been possible without her. While working with Jo I was able to see how my holding back and being timid may be limiting me from having the positive impact I would like on others and in the world. My work with Jo gave me the confidence to speak up, even when I’m not comfortable and ask great questions without assuming I should already know the answer. I’ve learned that the benefit of speaking my wisdom is usually greater than the risk or fear I’m feeling around needing to keep quiet. Now I feel bolder, more confident and I’m having more fun!”

Melissa Hitt
Consultant, Freed Associates

“I interviewed several other coaches but it was important to me to have someone with the experience Jo brings to the table. Jo’s gifts include discernment, connection and understanding, along with her ability to inspire the best version of me. After just 8 months working with Jo, I’ve succeeded at achieving every one of my intentions–something I never thought possible! Jo not only helped me achieve remarkable results in my existing position, the work we did together gave me the confidence to position myself for a new career opportunity that has ended up being an ideal fit. She also helped me connect intellectually and spiritually to my work so it felt meaningful again. The decision to hire Jo has been a gift that keeps on giving not only in my professional life, but also in my personal life.”

Karla Ortiz
VP, Sales, CiscoHome

“In my current position as Director of Career Services and Alumni Advising for the Office of Career Strategy at Yale University, I selected Jo to lead a presentation as part of Yale’s Career Management Webinar Series for Alumni. The positive feedback I have received after her presentation was phenomenal. Her expertise on the subject matter is outstanding. It was terrific to work with Jo. She exceeded expectations, went above what she was asked to do while maintaining remarkably high standards. In addition, Jo is now serving as an external career coach for Yale University’s Office of Career Strategy.”

Elayne Mazzarella
Yale University

“I started coaching when I was promoted to the Chief Investment Officer. Our coaching has given me a greater sense of confidence. Not only did I gain a better understanding of my strengths, while improving some of those skills, I also developed an understanding of how to use those strengths to be a better leader. I see the world in a different way now, truly understanding other people’s strengths and weaknesses, how they might approach situations, which has been really valuable. I made significant changes during my time with Jo, improving how I navigate new situations professionally and personally. The benefits of coaching are well worth the time and the energy. Jo is amazing, frankly. She is so perceptive and so skilled and really understands what I needed, what areas to work on, how to grow, how to improve.”

Ann Silverberg
CEO, NorCal Affordable at Related California

“Jo is an engaging and insightful presenter who delivers innovative material and connects well with her audience. Jo conducted a webinar for Haas alumni on how to ‘Fast track Your Career And Promotions.’ Not only did we have strong interest and registration numbers, but high attention through the presentation. Jo’s presentation pacing translates well to the online medium. Throughout the webinar, people responded positively with insights and questions. Thank you, Jo!”

Rebecca Ricksen
UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business

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Don't let your people be left behind.