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Dr. Isabella Fugaccia

Dr. Isabella Fugaccia: Navigating Beliefs for Enduring Excellence

Guiding Executives to Overcome Limits, Foster Innovation, and Achieve Enduring Positive Change!

Success in STEM leadership requires more than technical expertise. It demands a mindset that bridges innovation with effective leadership. How do we cultivate that mindset? In the ever-evolving landscape of STEM sectors, leadership excellence is not just a necessity; it’s a transformative force driving innovation and progress. Dr. Isabella Fugaccia, Founder and CEO of Dr. Isabella Fugaccia® and On The Learning Road®, stands at the forefront of this transformative journey.

Dr. Fugaccia, a seasoned executive coach and experiential learning specialist, embarked on her remarkable journey with a vision to bridge the gap between technical brilliance and effective leadership in STEM. With over 20 years of experience and a global entrepreneurial spirit, she recognized the pivotal role of continuous learning in navigating the complexities of STEM industries.

Having worked across diverse global organizations in Healthcare, Life Science, Aerospace, Energy, and Education, she identified a common need for deep learning and a desire for enduring positive change. Her mission crystallized — to facilitate profound transformations for individuals and their teams, laying the foundation for sustained success.

As a guide to CEOs and executives, Dr. Fugaccia tackles the core challenge of overcoming limiting beliefs. Her motivation stems from a genuine passion for helping individuals achieve lasting positive change. Functioning as an executive educator, she delves into the intricacies of how beliefs and environments trigger negative behaviors. Through practical guidance and pragmatic coaching, her aim is to empower individuals, fostering sustained positive transformations.

Her goal is clear: to assist accomplished individuals in attaining enduring positive change and improved behavior for themselves, their teams, and those they lead. Her approach as an executive educator and coach involves imparting an understanding of how beliefs and environments can trigger negative behaviors. Through straightforward guidance and pragmatic coaching techniques, she empowers individuals to attain and sustain positive behavioral transformations, ultimately enhancing their lives in meaningful ways.

Below are the interview highlights:

Could you please brief us about your company and its inception story?

The greatest challenge in behavioral change is not knowing what to do but actually doing it.

I founded both Dr. Isabella Fugaccia’s Management & Leadership and On The Learning Road® as a pioneer in dynamic experiential learning and development. Experiential learning, essentially, is learning through experience. That “experience” is meticulously constructed to be active, interactive, deeply thought-out, and action-provoking. Throughout the years, I have made notable R&D investments in experiential learning because I was fortunate, early on, to recognize the power of and leverage experiential learning systems in both training and coaching for the greatest return on investment and measurable results. More recently, we added Arts-Based Experiential Learning to our formula to successfully and measurably support clients in achieving and sustaining lasting behavioral change.

I founded my coaching and training practice with a vision to empower STEM, finance, and fintech leaders and teams to thrive in rapidly evolving landscapes. The inception of both organizations was fueled by the desire to develop my own skills and mindsets and to cultivate resilient people who can navigate the complexities of technology and innovation while fostering collaborative and high-performing teams, irrespective of challenging contexts.

Over the years, I have worked with individuals and teams in many other sectors, including fashion, real estate, IT/Tech, Construction, Hospitality, Food and beverage, confectionary industries, and government.

With our ability to respond quickly and effectively, we dive deeply into our clients’ needs and develop, design, and deliver lasting learning through coaching and training on the global stage in over 18 languages in over 40 countries to positively impact behavioral change so that our clients attain and sustain success throughout their lives.

Can you share your background and experience as an executive coach, including your areas of expertise and the types of clients you have worked with in the past?

I enjoy working with people with deep technical or scientific skills who want to move beyond their own limited beliefs to evolve and expand their leadership and collaborative skills so they can positively impact their lives and their organization’s success.

As an executive coach with a robust background, I specialize in collaborating with STEM sector leaders to exceed their expectations. My expertise lies in aligning technical and scientific acumen with leadership skills and mindsets, working with diverse clients ranging from emerging to seasoned leaders. I have facilitated transformations that empower leaders to not only excel in their technical or scientific roles but also to lead with lasting impact and influence.

I’ve worked with executives, board members, and entrepreneurs, coaching individuals and teams at all organizational levels. With a global reach, I’ve trained and coached over 15,000 leaders worldwide, leveraging my scientific and entrepreneurial background. My passion lies in empowering individuals with technical skills to transcend limiting beliefs and foster leadership and collaborative growth for personal and organizational success.

What do you believe are the key qualities and skills that set outstanding executive coaches apart from others in the field? 

Change is simple, not easy. In our complex and continuously evolving world, we need exceptionally skilled coaches who see their mission as evolving the coaching profession further. The most successful clients seek successful coaches who can support their “playing all in” and want and need deep skillsets, mindsets, and courage in a coach who will see them and their people through change, irrespective of the context.

Executive coaching excellence means the coach is a continuous learner and holds demonstrated and measurably superb skillsets and mindsets to serve as a strategic and operative thinking partner to achieve challenging objectives.

When you listen to individuals across various fields, a common plea emerges for a more nuanced form of leadership—one capable of tackling both the sheer numbers and range of new complexities. However, research shows that such highly skilled leaders won’t naturally emerge. It’s imperative that both leaders and their coaches actively nurture and expedite their development.

Rather than instructing leaders through a simplistic, step-by-step approach, our coaching and training programs leverage applied science and practice for adult growth and development. Coaching and training excellence must also aim to empower clients to evolve into reflective individuals with the capacity to lead effectively in any given situation. Once clients see the robust power of experiential training and its application in coaching, they never go back to “traditional” methods! They transition from theory to practical application and transformation, incorporating real-world activities as foundations to regenerate themselves and foster a responsive and accountable workforce while enhancing overall performance.

How do you approach building a strong coach-client relationship, and what methods do you use to establish trust and rapport with your clients?

Trust and respect are fundamental to any coaching relationship. Before engaging in coaching, we book a discovery call to ensure we are working with the right people on the right things. These calls are also an important opportunity for individuals to learn about us and our coaching approaches and to mutually define ways of working together. I approach building strong coach-client relationships by fostering open communication and understanding individual and team dynamics. Establishing trust involves skillfully deploying deep listening and empathy, focusing on the client’s goals, and working collaboratively in a stretching-the-limits approach. In addition, tailoring coaching strategies to align with the unique challenges of the STEM sectors helps create a foundation for lasting, successful partnerships.

To this end, we ensure expectations are clear so we can amplify the value of coaching and training in 5 ways:

  • Efficiency: We use specific certified coaching and training approaches ranked among the top 5 in the world. We also develop innovative and impactful training and coaching programs and systems to start quickly and achieve more in less time.
  • Impact: Our science-based learning systems enable us to go deep for the greatest measurable impact for individuals and teams.
  • Lasting Change: Ending strong means learning is sticky, and behavior change lasts.
  • Scope: We are able to work with a wider range of clients and contexts, including complexity and uncertainty in organizational change, both locally and globally.
  • Systemic Purpose: We focus on systemic organizational value and impact through alignment for the person, team, organization, and global sector.

What is your coaching philosophy, and how do you tailor your coaching approach to meet the specific needs and goals of each individual executive you work with? 

My coaching philosophy centers around the belief that leadership in the STEM sector requires a nuanced understanding of both technical and interpersonal aspects. Getting to the heart of the matter faster and better is my intent and dictates how I operate. That means I tailor my approach to meet the specific needs and goals of each executive and team, combining technical or scientific expertise with leadership development strategies to foster well-rounded and influential leaders. “Meeting the client where they are”, at any given moment, ensuring where they are going is top of mind for myself and the client, focusing on working on what is important and relevant to the client, and measuring what truly matters.

How do you stay current with the latest developments and best practices in executive coaching, and how do you ensure your knowledge and techniques remain up-to-date?

My aim is to evolve the coaching and training industry and to operate as a pioneer in any sector. We aim to set trends and best practices in the industry. To stay current, I routinely talk to a lot of people with diverse perspectives and expertise. I carefully select and actively engage in ongoing quality education and certifications. I do a lot of reading on workplace and scientific research and self-study the behavioral sciences (psychology, sociology) and learning sciences, all of which complement and strengthen my applied neuroscience expertise and clinical background. I also participate in relevant conferences and panel discussions, supervise and mentor coaches and trainers, and collaborate with other industry experts. I continuously explore emerging trends and best practices in both the STEM sector and leadership development, ensuring that my coaching and training methodologies remain at the forefront of industry advancements. I am fortunate to know many renowned professional coaches around the world, and I train with them regularly. My mission is to continuously evolve and work outside my own comfort zone to bring innovation and provide the highest value through coaching and training to clients. In addition, our R&D is ongoing, so we can integrate the world’s most effective learning approaches and systems into our practice and offer them to our clients.