ABOUT ME

Hi, my name is Kristina. Here is my full story, it's long but hopefully it gives you a glimpse of who I am, how I became a coach, why I'm passionate about what I do, and whether I might be a good fit to work with you and/or your team.

Early Years

One of the hardest questions for me to answer is where I'm from. I don't feel any one answer fully describe who I am. I wish "global citizen" was an acceptable answer :) I was born Liu Xiaonan (my family call me Nannan) in Northeast China, a city called Shenyang. I moved to Germany when I was 10, moved back to China when I was 12 (to a different city, Beijing), and moved to the US when I was 14, first to Burlington, Vermont, then to Chicago. I'm so grateful for my parents to have taken me to so many places at a young age. Even though it was not easy at the time but the experiences taught me how to be strong, resilient, and adaptable. It probably also planted the seeds of my love for travel and adventure.

 

Today, it's been a year since I completed my one-year journey around the world with Remote Year while building up my coaching business and working on my Doctor of Psychology dissertation. Being able to travel while working is something I had only dreamed of before but now I've actually done it! I am often amazed at how good life is to me. At the same time, the road to where I am today has not all been smooth, but I am grateful for all the experiences I have had that has led me here and I am passionate to show others how to live the best possible life for themselves.  

Early Education

My love for learning and my curiosity in many fields also manifest in my formal education and different jobs that I've had. I got a Bachelor and Master in Accounting from University of Illinois - Urbana-Champagne, worked in Deloitte Tax and Audit for 2 years in Chicago, then spent 2 years in internal audit at Amgen, a biotech company outside Los Angeles. Even though I had great experiences and worked with fantastic people, I didn't feel that auditing someone else's work was fulfilling my need to add value, and therefore decided to pursue an MBA with the hopes to make a bigger difference. I chose INSEAD because, first it's a great school (it got ranked No.1 in the recent few years by Financial Times) but even more importantly, it is in France which satisfied my love for French culture and food and my desire to travel. I left the US at the age of 26 and spent one of the best years of my life at INSEAD - 6 months in France and 6 months in Singapore.

 

Working in Singapore after Business School 

When I graduated, I got a job with Syngenta, a Swiss agribusiness company in the Singapore regional office and spent an amazing nine years there. I rotated through 4 different roles - starting with leading the commercial work stream of a business transformation and systems implementation project for 9 Asian countries, then moved into a business process management role leading a small team to standardize and enhance commercial processes for 15 countries in Asia. After that I spent four years in the corn seeds business, my favorite role at Syngenta, doing product and portfolio management, marketing, and strategy. I learned so much about corn, went on many corn tours, and that was when agriculture and food production became very near and dear to my heart. My last role was in business improvement, helping different business units making sustainable business changes. Syngenta fulfilled so many values I have - constant learning, contributing to a greater cause (in this case providing food for the world and improving the lives of smallholder farmers), meeting and working with people from all over the world, traveling all around Asia and globally. I went to some amazing places that I would've never gone to otherwise, like touring the corn fields of Bihar and Mindanao, and attending team meeting in Foz do Iguazu where we got to go to the Iguazu falls and I took a weekend trip to Rio.

Studying Psychology

In 2015, while I was enjoying my corn role at Syngenta, I wasn't sure if working in a corporate role is what I want to do for the rest of my life. At the same time, I was in a long-term relationship that I was also unsure about even though he was so sure about me. I couldn't break it off but also couldn't see myself marrying him. The question I was asking myself the most frequently was "What the hell is wrong with me?" The amount of self-doubt, confusion, fear, and anxiety that I had was insane and it shocked me that it was in me. I knew something needed to change. I even talked to an intuitive reader who helped me to get some clarity. For one, I realized that he was not the right life partner for me, and two that perhaps I can study something on the side that will open up more of my creative side. So I asked myself what field am I interested in? And I said psychology. I became interested in psychology ever since I took the "Literature and Psychology" class in high school, but the practical side of me never allowed me to study it in college (it had to be something much more practical and more guaranteed to get a good-paying job like Accounting). Now with my own life dilemmas, I felt the need to understand myself more and decided it was time to pursue a passion that had been dormant for years. 

So I started taking one class at the College of Allied Educators in Singapore (similar to a community college in the US) and really enjoyed it. Through that I met a school director who told me about a doctorate program that can be done part-time from the Professional School of Psychology based in California . I applied and amazingly they recognized the masters degrees that I already have (even though they are not in psychology) and accepted me. I started the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D) program in August 2015 and enjoyed every moment of it. The studies was as much an experience of learning the theory and practice of psychology as my own journey of self-discovery and self-development. I grew so much as a person from the learning experience, particularly the year and half of process group where I got to understand so much more about myself, my behavioral patterns, and how I relate with people. One of the biggest learning I got was during the storming period of the group process, about 7 months in, where I felt I was being unfairly treated and scapegoated. I realized I didn't know how to express negative emotions. Saying something like "I feel hurt" was so difficult for me. Up until then I only knew how to use ego defense mechanisms such as acting out, projection, and suppression when I had difficult feelings like anger, sadness, and disappointment but never was I able to verbalize them. That process group was the starting point of me becoming more aware of my feelings and learning how to express them to others in a constructive way. But still, it took much more conscious effort, practice, and relationships after that to be truly good at it. Today it is still a continuous practice.

My First Exposure to Coaching

During this time another important event happened. I got the privilege to attend a Women Leadership Program through Syngenta where I got exposed to many women's issues that I hadn't realized before and more importantly gave me an opportunity to work with an executive coach. Even though it was only three sessions, which I felt was too few and not impactful enough at the time, but it did trigger my interest in becoming a coach. Now looking back it was so impactful and my coach Su was the first person I thanked when I became a coach myself. That was the first time I experienced the power of coaching and later on realized the value of patience and trust - that sometimes change and transformation doesn't happen immediately but happens in the months and years to follow. Fast forward six months after I completed my sessions with Su I went to a face-to-face gathering for an organizational psychology class in Sea Ranch, California. This was another turning point for me because I got exposed to Co-Active coaching. During a one-day session, the professor invited two Co-Active coaches to give us a taster session of the coaching methodology and how it helps people in decision making. The Co-Active model "had" me at the first cornerstone, which is "People are naturally creative, resourceful and whole." I realized this is the way I want to view people. It also highlighted to me my disconnect with psychotherapy in my six months of practice - the starting point of the traditional therapy is not that people are creative resourceful and whole but rather that they are broken, fragile and need the therapist to be the savior to solve their problems. 

Getting Trained as a Coach

After this class I went back to Singapore and looked into different coaching programs and decided that Co-Active was still the best, and started my year-long journey of coaching training and certification. This is still THE most life-changing experiences in my life. Through it I was able to understand more of who I am, what I want, and most importantly it enabled me to confront my fears and self-limiting beliefs. The reason I have launched my own coaching practice today and have gone on Remote Year is mostly due to coaching. Of course other self-development work also contributed and built up to it, which includes my psychology studies, the process group, all the books that I read (A New EarthSeat of the Soul, the Power being the most influential), the 10-day vipassana silent meditation that I did in Jaipur, even the intuitive reader and all my romantic and personal relationships. But without coaching I wouldn't have been able to muster up the courage, or at least not at the time that I did, to quit a good, high-paying corporate job to travel the world and start my own business for the first time in my life. Both of these scared me to my core but today I'm doing it and feel like I'm living the life I've always wanted. 

 

Building Up My Foundation

The other important thing that got me to where I am and I don't want to overlook is taking care of my own finances. I had been fortunate enough to read some investment books when I was 22 and have been applying the those principles since then, which enabled me to build a comfortable enough financial base to let myself not be worried about it. (But without coaching no amount of money would have made me comfortable enough to do something like what I'm doing now, because the fear I had were imaginary and not real. I had made an elaborate spreadsheet a few years before and said I would leave my job if I got to a certain number, then I got to that number and I still couldn't leave. See my post about this topic). So I do think money is very important, because when there is truly no money, our own very existence is threatened, our most basic needs in the Maslow's Hierarchy are not met, and we don't have the mind space to meet our higher level needs. So while I don't usually give advice in my coaching, investing and taking care of your finances are things I would advise anyone to do. Another reason I am incorporating the topic of money in my transformation program.

Coaching & Life Transformation Program 

This program is the culmination of everything I believe in in life and all my knowledge, passions, experience and expertise, many of which are unrelated to coaching such as personal financing, exercise, meditation, and plant and animal medicine. I attribute the birth of it to my life-changing experience of being on the road for 12 months with my Remote Year Ohana group which took my personal development from all the previous work to another level. (See my blog posts documenting this experience). The experience is continuing to give because the last piece of the missing puzzle came in month 9 in Peru - spending a week in the Amazon jungle doing Ayahuasca, Kambo, and San Pedro. Now I can finally say that the program addresses all parts of you - mind, body, heart, and spirit. I have personally experienced the benefits of developing myself through multiple approaches - coaching, traveling, reading, meditation, studying psychology, being in a process group, talking to people, traveling with a group for extended period of time, various workshops and seminars, learning about the concept of love vs. fear (another major guiding principle of mine), being in nature, and now finally plant medicine - and I passionately want to share it with everyone who wants to embark on this journey. Because I know through my own experience it works, as long as you want to change, have faith, and are willing to put in the work. I hope you give me an opportunity to help you discover what is YOUR best life, whether it is through the transformation program or through coaching. Thank you so much for reading and I look forward to hearing from you!

With much love,

Kristina 

KRISTINA'S QUALIFICATIONS

  • Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D) specializing in organizational and group psychology, 2019, Professional School of Psychology, California, USA

  • Associate Certified Coach (ACC), 2018, International Coaching Federation (ICF)

  • Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC), 2018, Coaches Training Institute (CTI)

  • MBA, 2008, INSEAD, France and Singapore

  • Master of Science in Accounting, 2003, University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign, USA

  • Bachelor of Science in Accountancy, 2002, University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign, USA

  • Coach-based-Consultant (CBC), 2017, Bali, Indonesia

  • Project Management Professional (PMP) since 2015, Singapore

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA), 2003-2007, USA

WHY YOU SHOULD WORK WITH KRISTINA

 

  • Educated in psychology and business

    • Kristina has a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D) focused on organizational psychology and group process

    • She did her doctorate dissertation on the topic of Transformative Learning (TL) focusing on her Remote Year experience as well as prior TL experiences such as meditation, process group, coaching, and more 

    • She has an MBA from INSEAD, and MS and BS in Accounting from U of I - Urbana-Champaign

  • 14-year work experience in multinational companies

    • She has worked 14 years in three multinational companies in the US and Singapore in agribusiness (Syngenta), biotechnology (Amgen), and public accounting (Deloitte).

    • She has experience in a wide range of areas including business improvement, portfolio management, strategy, planning, and marketing. She has managed teams and worked extensively with cross-functional and cross-regional teams.

    • In her years of corporate experience, she also developed expertise in workshop design and facilitation, training, and people and team development.

  • International background

    • Kristina was born in China, raised in the US, lived in Germany, France, and Singapore

    • She has traveled the world in 2018 with Remote Year while coaching and doing her Psy.D dissertation

    • She enjoys working with people of any background and culture

  • Strengths and passion

    • Kristina is a big believer in the Clifton StrengthsFinder and continuously leverages her strengths in work and life

    • Her top 5 strengths are: Input, Relator, Individualization, Arranger, and Learner

    • How her strengths serve her and her clients:

      • Her Input and learner talents drive her to never stop learning. She constantly updates herself with the latest findings in psychology, personal development, and leadership

      • Her Relator talent gives her the desire and ability to connect and deeply understand each individual 

      • Her Individualization talent allows her to see the uniqueness and strengths of each individual

      • Her Arranger talent gives her the ability to juggle many activities in her life