Coach Spotlight

Andrew Hapke

Andrew coaches leaders in technology to take their career to the next level. He has worked at the intersection of entrepreneurship, social impact and technology for his whole career. Over the last 15 years, he has built products, and led teams at American Express, Etsy and Splice. Having been a start-up founder, a product leader and a mentor to technology executives, he has the context and perspective to coach people on how to build meaningful companies and careers.

Andrew trained to become a coach with the Coactive Training Institute (CTI) and has an MBA from Yale. When he is not coaching, he likes to garden, cook and surf. He is currently attempting to teach his 2 year old daughter how to surf.

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How did you get your start in coaching/teaching?

After I graduated business school, I knew that I was interested in tech. I was able to have a diverse set of experiences in New York City. I founded my own start up, I worked at American Express, I worked at Etsy when it was transitioning from a start up to a public company, and then I worked at a couple of different start ups as a leader in product and product marketing. I was able to get a sense for what different company cultures, job functions, and bosses were like, as well as what I liked and didn’t like about the tech world.

I was inspired by a coach that I had while I was at Etsy. They had a great L&D department and they offered coaching for leaders. That was my first exposure to a coach and I thought it was such an awesome job. It just stayed in my mind and after a few more jobs in the tech industry, I realized that the things I loved about my job as a leader in tech were only about 10% of my job description. I decided to turn that 10% into my whole job - working with individuals to build vital and impactful careers. I enrolled in CTI training, one of the world’s biggest coach training programs. It was a profound experience to take that training and I just jumped in from there. I recently passed both my Certified Professional Co-Active Coach exam as well as my International Coaching Federation accreditation, so I'm excited to move into the next phase of my coaching journey, and I look forward to learning more from other coaches, and from my clients going forward.

What is one actionable takeaway you want your students to leave your classes with?

One thing I love about coaching and group facilitation is the power of saying things out loud. We are often our own harshest critics, and so often we push a negative train of thought to the extreme when it stays in our heads. In coaching and in group sessions focused on self improvement, we are able to say some of those things out loud and hear how they sound to other people. In that moment we often realize how mean we are to ourselves, and that others struggle with similar things. So I hope an actionable takeaway from our sessions is to recognize the power of talking about the things you struggle with out loud with someone else - whether it's a coach, a friend, or a partner.

What trends do you see in the world of work?

  1. I see an increased recognition by leadership that mental health is an important aspect of employee performance. I think we have a long way to go to align that recognition with actual environments and policies that promote mental health, but it is a good start!
  2. I see more and more people being able to piece together multiple informal jobs and roles based on very specific expertise - that net out to something like a full time role. This trend is exciting and liberating for some - but also scary in that at least in the US where healthcare is tied to an employer, it can be a riskier path.
  3. I see the importance of focus growing. At least in the start up sector where my experience comes from, success often comes from relentless focus on solving very specific problems. As distractions proliferate, companies that are able to maintain discipline and focus are able to execute and grow while companies that try to be too much to too many people end up spreading themselves thin.

Why are you passionate about leadership development?

I am passionate about leadership development because I see it as an extension of the greatest project each of us undertakes throughout our lives - learning to understand and love ourselves. It's difficult to be an impactful leader of others, if you aren't leading yourself. So leadership development to me is about making space for people to build the muscles they need to understand themselves and how they relate to others. And that then becomes the foundation for building successful products, teams and companies. These are life long pursuits, and I am learning just like everyone else. So to be able to work with people who are on their own path of growth and discovery feels like my highest calling and what I get excited about working on each day.

What's the best lesson you've ever been taught?

The best lesson I've ever been taught is the importance of understanding the voice in your head - sometimes called the "saboteur." Learning that that voice wasn't actually me, was a transformative moment for me. It helped me understand how to separate myself from the negativity in my head and understand what place that voice could and should have in my life. I still respect that voice, and learn from it, but I don't let it be the end all be all for me, and I am getting better at putting it in its place.

Who is someone that inspires you? Why?

At the risk of sounding hokey, these days I am so inspired by my daughter. She is at that age where she is learning something new seemingly every minute. She is connecting the dots in ways that just blow my mind, and I am constantly reminded of how innately open and curious we humans are. I am trying to take as much inspiration as I can from her to stay open and stay learning.

What do you like to do outside of work?

First and foremost, I love to spend time with my 2 year old daughter. Beyond family time though, I have a few passions that occupy my time and thoughts. First of all, I am a surfer, and I love to get in the water as much as possible. Secondly, I love to garden. And lastly, I am learning to be a better cook, and cooking is something that is nourishing for me and for my family.

What's something your colleagues probably don't know about you?

That I am a collector of antique oriental rugs! I think it’s a combination of a few different things, but it starts with my family. My family is Lebanese on my mom’s side and my great grandfather was in the textile business, so the rugs are both culturally and emotionally significant to me. I have always been fascinated by the designs which often incorporate styles and motifs that are unique and significant to a specific tribe or village, alongside larger design trends and influences.

I have two or three that were my grandparents, one from my aunt, and three to four that I bought myself! I actually got married on a 130-year-old rug that belonged to my great grandfather.