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Why 1:1 coaching is the most impactful decision of Harriet Willmott's career
"My time with Rod is the most valuable thing in my career, absolutely. I ask myself, why didn't I do this sooner? He's had such a huge impact on my career and on our company."
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Harriet Willmott
Software Engineering Manager, Multi
Photo of Harriet and others

When Harriet Wilmott, software engineering manager at Multi, first heard about the idea of coaching through a suggestion from her CEO, Alexander Embiricos, she thought, “Coaching paid for by my company, why not?” Since that moment over a year ago, she's met biweekly with her Practica coach, Rod Begbie. Rod is not only an experienced leadership coach, but has more than two decades of engineering leadership experience at Discord, Dropbox, Anova Culinary, and as CTO of Sosh.

Here's what Alexander Embiricos (CEO of Multi) has said about the impact coaching has had:

When she started her coaching sessions with Rod, she was six years into her career as a software engineer, with experiences working at Google and Microsoft. She was initially drawn to coaching because at times she felt frustrated with learning technical subjects online. Charting her own course through online resources felt overwhelming, and happened slower without any guidance.

As Harriet got into the groove of coaching, she was surprised to find that the majority of what she's worked on with Rod hasn't been related to code at all. Her coaching journey with Practica has been centered around her growth into a strong engineering leader at Multi and finding ways that she can best impact and influence the company's trajectory.

During coaching sessions, Rod encourages Harriet to explore her interests and then motivates her to get out there and make it happen at work. She's found that this approach is really advantageous in a startup environment where there are a million things that need to be done and everyone is figuring it out along the way. Through this exploration, she came to realize that she's more motivated to make everyone productive and to help her team achieve their goals, rather than building things on her own. She's also found ways to nurture her passion for helping women and other underrepresented groups in tech succeed.

After identifying these motivators, Rod and Harriet found different ways for Harriet to take on more of a leadership role and influence the engineering team and the product development process at Multi. As a result, she felt more and more drawn to leadership. She shifted a large chunk of her time to leading and influencing the company by helping improve her team's product development process to be more efficient and focused on what they are solving for users. She also found ways to mentor engineers on her team and teach them strong engineering processes. Her team recognized these efforts and formally promoted her to engineering manager!

"Instead of thinking how do I write this code as quickly as possible, it's more about how should we operate as a company so that we deliver the most valuable things. This has really helped me shift my perspective and it provides a lot of clarity in ambiguous situations. Sometimes you just need to stop and think, what are we doing? Is this worth doing right now? Or, let's take it back to what problem are we trying to solve for users. Are we solving it? What are we doing that isn't helping us achieve that goal?

Harriet describes Rod's approach to coaching as teaching her how to think while providing his own perspective and experience so that she can figure out the next steps needed for a given challenge. He is constantly tying every session back to her career goals, which they figure out along the way. Rod helps her set her long-term goals by looking back on the past year and seeing how much she's grown. He asks her to think about what she is doing now that she didn't do a year ago and to look forward and think, what does she want to do in a year? How does she want her role to change?

The biggest learning from her time with Rod is that leadership is about scaling your decision-making. It's about influencing your team so people will make the decisions that you would have made and you don't have to be in the room. She's proud to witness moments where this comes to life in her team when she can see engineers on her team making decisions the way she would make them.

"Leadership is about teaching people how to make decisions like you would make them, so you don't need to be in every meeting

Harriet feels that the hour of coaching every other week is the most valuable use of her time throughout her career. In her sessions with Rod, she always feels validated and reassured about what she experiences, and feels more clarity in the next steps to the challenges she's facing.

"“My time with Rod is the most valuable thing in my career, absolutely. I ask myself, why didn't I do this sooner? He's had such a huge impact on my career and on our company. Rod has encouraged me, taught me engineering leadership, and helped me influence the company a lot. We wouldn't be where we are if not for that and I owe a lot of that to Rod for guiding me”

Banner image with quote: My time with Rod is the most valuable thing in my career, absolutely. I ask myself, why didn't I do this sooner?

From Harriet's coach on her growth over their time together:

"The biggest change I've seen in Harriet since we started working together is that she now understands the distinct value her perspective and passion brings to Multi and has become more confident in focusing on the areas of leadership where she is uniquely suited to deliver impact. She is an engineer who writes code, but that's a small part of how she is driving the future of the company. Working with her to help her frame her goals and define her own success has been incredibly rewarding, and I leave each call with her excited to see what she does before our next session, - Rod Begbie

And if you're curious about exploring coaching for yourself, check out, or feel free to reach out to us at!

We also provide curated resources to learn the skills Harriet has grown in with her coach. Check out our syllabi for Introduction to Engineering Management, Mentorship for Engineers, Influence, Decision Making, and Product Strategy!

Interested in increasing your team's product velocity?
As a next step, schedule a free 30 minute consultation with us to learn more about coaching and see if it’s a good fit for your team.

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