Coach of the Month: Heike Stengel

Name: Heike Stengel

Title:  Cross-Cultural Analyst, Trainer and Coach

Business Name:  Stengel Consulting

Client Testimonials:

Niche/Specialties:  Coaching and Training Internationally Mobile People. I support expatriates and also international business people in dealing with the cultural and business challenges they are facing while keeping an eye on their personal happiness.

Expat Experience:  I am a native Bavarian who has lived in Singapore for more than a decade. All in all, I have been working internationally for around 25 years with assignments in 18 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the United States. So far, I have had the privilege of working with people from 68 different nationalities which has given me fascinating insights into global diversity.

Languages Spoken:  I work in my native German and English but have also formally studied French, Russian, Malay, Japanese and Chinese.

Life Experience:  I am a political economist by training and was set up for a stable career in academia but life – and my husband of 25 years – have led me down a different path and I am grateful for that evening many years ago when the opportunity came up to move to Asia. Those past decades have taught me that challenges also provide the most exciting opportunities and that moving out of our comfort zone and deviating from a predictable path often leads to a rewarding and happy life. I also learned that it is critical to have people in your life who support you, who listen to your concerns and grievances, who provide comfort food (in the literal and emotional sense) and lift your spirits. With this in mind, I am a sounding board for my clients (and friends). I encourage them when they have to make life-changing decisions, provide them with a safe space to share their thoughts and help them to connect the dots in their lives.

Accomplishments:  I have a Master’s Degree and a PhD in Economics and Social Sciences, a Professional Diploma in Asia Pacific Marketing and I am also a Certified Professional Coach. Besides my work as a coach, trainer and consultant, I teach Cross-Cultural Competence and International Management at various institutions of higher education and I find it very rewarding to help individuals develop their potential. I was awarded a prestigious prize for my doctoral thesis on sustainable development and have received other awards and scholarships. I also ran the American Community Action Council’s “Settling in Singpaore” program while living there. But what really fills me with pride is when clients and friends tell me that I have made a difference in their lives. It is so rewarding to see people succeed, not only professionally but when they are happy with who they are and what they do.

I also consider myself blessed by having a wonderful family, especially my best friend and husband Sigi and my two Singaporean-born kids.

What I Love About Working in This Niche:  I have the privilege to work with extremely multifaceted individuals with fascinating personal and professional backgrounds. No assignment is ever the same and I enjoy being constantly exposed to this intriguing variety of people as there is so much to learn from them.

Coaching Style:  I provide a safe space for clients to address what is important to them. I don’t follow a particular coaching model but sense which approach works best with a particular individual or couple especially if they have a different cultural background. I am fascinated by the link between the intercultural field and personality type and blend both in my work as a coach. Bringing things down to a human level also helps to establish a suitable coaching environment – a smile, a joke, a hug, a cookie or teh tarik.

Favorite Coaching Tool:  I like to work with clients on their goals and usually use the Wheel of Life tool. I also encourage them to reflect on the R in the SMART acronym. There are multiple interpretations of what it stands for but I like to put the focus on “R for relevant”. I have seen too many expatriates follow goals that were not really their own. They felt that they had to conform to other people’s expectations or to follow the “to do” list they were provided with. I believe it is important to check whether something is really relevant for your and your family’s well-being.

Why Clients Choose Me As Their Coach:  My appeal to clients is my rather diverse background and experience:  as an expat career woman, wife and mother, I understand the personal side of a life on the move. As an intercultural expert, I am familiar with multiple cultures and can help my clients figure out what to expect in their host country and how to deal with cross-cultural surprises. As an economist and international management consultant, I can also relate to my clients’ professional challenges. So as a coach, I can provide support in a very holistic manner.

A Tip for My Niche:  We don’t have to be superhumans! In today’s world, expats often get overwhelmed with tips and “to do”-lists. They are being reminded of the core competencies that a successful international assignee should have and the things they should do. This often puts enormous pressure on people on the move who feel that they need to be fluent Mandarin speakers within weeks, completely set up within days and fully engaged into the local and expat community hours after touching the ground. My advice to expats: You are doing your best, so cut yourself some slack.

Contact Details




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