Sharlene Goldfischer '75: Arcadia Alumna Empowers Professionals To Thrive in Work and in Life

When I’m working with teams and organizations, I see that people yearn to be themselves and bring out their best both at work and in their personal lives.

Now, more than ever, individuals and top executives at companies are beginning to realize that the way we’re working isn’t working. During a typical work day, employees are pulled in a dozen directions, often feeling overworked, overwhelmed, and unfulfilled. By the time they get home, they’re running on empty.

National headlines show that companies such as Google and The Huffington Post are challenging the conventional management model in order to thrive in a rapidly changing world. Increasingly, professional organizations of all sizes are bringing in experts like Sharlene Goldfischer '75 to help them improve employee engagement and performance.

“My job is to empower individuals, teams and organizations to find solutions instead of being stuck,” said Goldfischer, a leadership development, life, and wellness coach, who serves as owner and principal of Quintessence Coaching.

In her work, Goldfischer engages in thought-provoking conversations with professionals at many levels, focusing on harnessing personal and organizational potential and goal attainment.

“When I’m working with teams and organizations, I see that people yearn to be themselves and bring out their best both at work and in their personal lives. We’ve become a fragmented world. Part of my mission through my work is to restore wholeness and meaning.”

She does this by asking questions and having her clients reflect on personal values before establishing goals and creating plans of action to move forward.

Although professional coaching is relatively young field, Goldfischer says she knew at an early age that she was meant to do this work. At the age of 15, she recalls reading a book titled The Nature of Adolescent Judgment by E. A. Peel, which greatly impacted her life.

“I couldn’t get enough of reading about people and how they can be their personal best.”

As a first generation college student at Arcadia, then Beaver College, she majored in psychology, but had an interest in special education—a field that was not very developed at the time. Her interest in special education emerged from interactions with a cousin, who had Down Syndrome. Goldfischer’s great aunt and uncle were instrumental in the development of the Philadelphia Association of Retarded Children, which paved the way for special education programming in the United States.

Early in her career, Goldfischer taught students with special needs at The Wood Schools, and then went on to work for the School District of Philadelphia and to consult for the Iowa State Department of Education. She received her master's degree in special education from Temple University.

Later, while homeschooling her own children, she created academic programs with museums and cultural institutions for the local homeschooling population. When her daughter decided that she wanted to attend a traditional high school, Goldfischer began exploring other interests that would bring her back to her childhood passion.

“I began working at a startup nonprofit,” said Goldfischer, who recalls being frustrated with the organization. “I asked myself, ‘What is it that’s driving me crazy here,’ and I realized it was the leadership.”

Coaching is about fortifying support, empathy, keen insight, and the ability to get to the core of every issue and situation quickly.

She then took it upon herself to enroll in the Non-profit Executive Leadership Institute at Bryn Mawr College, where she was introduced to the concept of coaching.

In this role, Goldfischer finds that her approach and contributions vary with each client. As a coach, she does everything from helping large companies transition during times of organizational restructuring to providing guidance for professionals taking the leap into entrepreneurship.

“Coaching is about fortifying support, empathy, keen insight, and the ability to get to the core of every issue and situation quickly.”

Goldfisher teaches the practice of "Energy Leadership" to her clients. This process develops a personally effective style of leadership that positively influences and changes not only the person, but also those with whom they work and interact, as well as the organization as a whole. In sessions with her clients, she shows how energy leadership applies to communication, problem-solving, productivity, relationships, time-management, health, and wellness in both their personal and professional lives.

On Tuesday, April 19, Goldfischer will lead an Alumni Career Services workshop for Arcadia alumni titled “Energy Leadership: Become the Ideal Leader in Work and in Life” at Estia in Center City Philadelphia. Graduates and guests at varying career experience levels, as well as those in transition, are encouraged to participate.

In her free time, she serves on the Boards of Directors for The National Center for Homeopathy  and the Philadelphia Chapter of the International Coach Federation.

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