Client Testimonials


Mr. Christopher Sherry COO & Senior Vice President at Merrick & Company

You can assign hard dollars to the savings you get from using STAR. STAR results allowed our senior leadership team to see the vital organizational changes we needed to make to reach our strategic goals for 2020. STAR allows us to shave real time, and effort, off our project schedules, and dramatically improve our overall performance. It helps us manage the complexity.


Leadership Development

Matthew E. West, P.L.S. National Renewable Energy Director / Director of Surveying Merrick & Company

I’d like to take a moment to share my appreciation of the investment our firm makes in our future leaders. Cheryl and Joe are exceptional at teaching us the personal relationship skills needed to successfully lead Merrick and I feel most importantly, is you can tell how much they care about us and Merrick. After our most recent class I heard from fellow class members (Scott J, Bart C, Travis B and Jim W) that this is the best and most valuable class they’ve been in while at Merrick and most of all how much they appreciated that Merrick cared about them personally. This is what makes Merrick great and is the reason we love our company.

Testimonial: The Power of Coaching

Leading others means helping people draw out their ideas

people_brabo_modThis story is from Cheryl Benedict’s coaching client, Jason Brabo, Principal of TLCD.

Jason Brabo, Principal of TLCD Architecture, began his coaching relationship with MORF partner and executive coach, Cheryl Benedict, in 2008. Jason has recently extended his coaching program because he feels it is making him a better principal in his firm. Here’s what he tells us about his coaching experience:

What makes a successful coaching experience like the one I am having is that you need to have an intention when you begin – that’s the key to success. It’s not all the coach’s responsibility to do the work: you, as the person being coached, will only get out of it what you put in. I put together a targeted plan that identified specific areas I wanted to work on. To get the most out of coaching, you need to be a willing participant, you need to work at it, and it helps to have some self-awareness before you begin.

The partner’s group at my firm had done some leadership development work that led naturally into executive coaching for me. Cheryl had used the Harrison Assessment and MBTI with our entire leaders group, and what I learned about myself and the other principals helped me build my plan. The information has also helped my coaching sessions with Cheryl – I was able to identify specific personality traits I wanted to work with.

We work not only on areas where I wanted to improve, but also on existing strengths. You may be strong in a certain area, but it doesn’t hurt to keep working at it; you need to keep an open mind and realize that you’re not perfect, and that your coach can help you identify alternatives.

For example, if an interpersonal situation were to arise in my division, there is an approach I would normally take, almost as an automatic reaction. With a coach, I have someone who can help me step back and evaluate why that may or may not work. These real world situations give you an opportunity to try new behavior and see how it feels, what results you get, and to discuss that with your coach. Changing behavior is not easy, so having a coach helps to keep you honest – I may not want to try something different, but I’ll stick to it because I told my coach I’d try it.

One of the most valuable things I’ve gotten from coaching with Cheryl is validation of my own processes. I like to think things through and look at the data from various angles before I make a decision, but in today’s business world we are usually pressured to make immediate decisions without time for reflection. I often felt like I had to force myself to make rapid decisions, and they didn’t always turn out well. As my coach, Cheryl pointed out to me that this type of decision-making is actually a good trait: I am able to look at the various aspects of a situation and create a well-thought-out resolution of value. Through coaching I learned to not only take the time to make decisions, but to make time to do that thinking. I set time aside for that now – instead of seeing it as a liability, I see the value it brings and treat it with respect.

Coaching has helped tremendously with both understanding and working with others. The Harrison and MBTI assessments we took early on helped me understand the others better, and through coaching I’ve deepened that to understand why my colleagues work and act the way they do. I can now approach them in ways they can understand.

During my transition to becoming a principal in the firm, I had to shift from a form of subordinate communication to engaging in peer-to-peer communication. Having an executive coach has helped me ramp up to the next level, and learn to manage and mentor others. As the health care studio leader, I now focus on managing people, bringing in new work, and dealing directly with clients. This kind of managing and encouraging is quite different from doing design work, which reminds me of the saying, “What got you here may not get you there.” That’s certainly true of going from a design to a management role in a professional design firm.

My role now requires a different set of skills, and the ability to trust my coach is highly important. I have to be able to talk about both strengths and weaknesses, and know that my coach will be compassionate and offer me a different perspective.

When you’re in the firm with a tight-knit group you tend to fall into a pattern, and it’s helpful to have the coach’s new, outside view of things. They can help remind you that while you may be able to use a past experience in dealing with a current situation, every situation is different and to treat this one as being unique.