Working with a social entrepreneur is a unique and highly rewarding opportunity for corporate professionals to enhance their leadership skills, build their confidence as trusted advisors, and benefit from new ideas and business models delivering life-changing impact.
In 2022, the EY organization collaborated with the TRANSFORM Support Hub to launch the Coaching Impact Entrepreneurs Across the Globe Program.
As part of this initiative, EY Professionals coach social entrepreneurs, discussing topics relevant to their businesses, setting goals together, and supporting the entrepreneurs’ personal and professional growth.
We recently sat down with first-time EY Coach, Xi Chen, to learn how his experience coaching social entrepreneur Angela Chen created change and left him changed in return. Learn more in his full story below!
Expanding Access to Opportunity in the Digital Age
Angela is the Co-Founder and CEO of Singapore-based social enterprise, Eskwelabs. Driven by the belief that no one should be left behind by digital transformation, Angela founded Eskwelabs to make high quality data education both accessible and affordable for workers in emerging Asian countries. Its cohort-based courses equip students with the data literacy, data analytics, & data science skills they need to land digital jobs, in a warm online atmosphere that combines live sessions, projects, and mentorship.
So far, Eskwelabs has supported over 3,000 learners, 90% of which land new jobs within three months of graduation with an average salary increase of 50%. To expand its impact even further, Angela was eager to work with a coach who could help her explore the potential applications of AI – something that Xi was uniquely positioned to do.
Creating Change, Being Changed
Xi is a Tax Manager, based out of Los Angeles, California. Over the course of his career, he’s built a wealth of experience in tax data analytics, transfer pricing, accounting, and financial auditing. In the wake of the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution, his focus has shifted towards predictive analytics to forecast trends and drive strategic decisions. He shared, “Before this coaching journey, my foray into the world of AI had given me a deep understanding of its capabilities and prospective applications in the context of my own work. Working with Angela was a unique and enlightening experience, and really brought to the forefront the transformative potential of AI in an entrepreneurial and educational context.”
Xi’s transferable skills provided a solid foundation for their work together, and as new challenges came up, he took a proactive approach to quickly learning the skills he needed to fill in the gaps. “For those contemplating a coaching journey, my advice is to stay open to learning and exploration. Initial complexities may feel overwhelming, but with time and effort, the pieces will start to fit together,” he advised.
Navigating this complexity also underscored for Xi the importance of developing a genuine relationship built on trust, listening, and adaptability to meet the evolving needs of the person you’re supporting. “Another big learning from this journey was the realization that understanding AI can be a steep and complex learning curve. It requires dedication, patience, and a willingness to learn from mistakes. This process, although challenging, offers a rewarding payoff.”
Over the course of six months, their coaching sessions revolved around the diverse applications of generative AI training initiatives. Xi explained, “Angela’s work is all about teaching others how these tools can augment productivity, drive innovation, and unlock new avenues. We explored a host of potential applications of AI to help her do that even more effectively, from content generation and campaign automation to customer sentiment analysis and opportunity identification.”
As much as Angela learned from Xi, Xi learned from Angela as well. He reflected, “A pivotal moment in this journey was witnessing the entrepreneur’s enthusiasm about the potential of AI as an educational tool. Angela’s readiness to integrate AI technologies, specifically low code/no code solutions, stimulated thought-provoking discussions and planning sessions. Together, we navigated how to balance the cost and value equation for their target audience while providing a comprehensive understanding of generative AI models.”
As a result of their collaborative discussions and shared learning, Angela was able to design new strategies and refine Eskwelabs’ curriculum, paving the way for sustainable success in its educational mission. For Xi, the experience as a whole left him energized and inspired to keep the positive impact going in his full-time work!
We’re grateful to Xi for sharing his story with us, and to Angela for making this growth and learning opportunity possible. If you’re a professional who wants to make a difference with your skills and grow your career in the process, we invite you to register on the TRANSFORM Support Hub!
Note: The views reflected in this article are the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the global EY organization or its member firms.