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Careers

A calling to coach

At age 26, Carolina Nalon gave up biology to start a human development company

Personal archiveSão Paulo biologist Carolina Nalon was about to complete her undergraduate research at the Forest Ecology and Restoration Laboratory of the University of São Paulo’s Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture (ESALQ-USP) when she embarked for a short-term internship at the Old Westbury Gardens in New York, USA. Her time spent abroad was productive, she recalls, but did nothing to convince her of her future as a researcher. At the age of 23 and under pressure to decide on a career, she decided in her final weeks abroad to enroll on a coaching course, where professionals help people make use of their technical and emotional resources to achieve their goals, solve problems, and develop specific skills.

Nalon began the course when she returned to Brazil, at the same time as she was writing her undergraduate dissertation. However, during the first class, she realized that she had mistakenly enrolled in a course designed to train coaches, rather than to offer coaching. “I decided to continue the course, since I had already invested a lot of money into it,” she says. After graduating in 2011, she began teaching English and gaining some coaching experience. Little by little, people she knew started asking for her help. “I charged a value that was mostly symbolic, and met with clients at home,” she recalls.

In 2011, Nalon travelled to Columbus, USA, to take part in an international exchange program focused on internships in horticulture, agriculture, viticulture, and other related fields, at Ohio State University. “The institution invited me to advise the Brazilians taking internships there,” she says. The trip resulted in a number of new clients in both the US and Brazil, and she worked via Skype. When she returned from the US in 2012, she decided to fully invest in her coaching career. With no entrepreneurial experience, she took a marketing course, created a business plan, and in 2012, at the age of 26, she launched Tiê Coaching.

Nalon gave lectures and workshops on communication strategies, offering guidance on how to relate to others with compassion, honesty, and empathy, and showing how these qualities can help resolve conflicts in both business and academic environments. Several companies were interested in her work, including Natura, Pfizer, and Bayer. In 2012 and 2013, she expanded the business and began producing online courses supplemented with handouts and extra materials. That is when she changed the name of the company to Instituto Tiê.

More recently, at the invitation of biologist Glauco Machado, coordinator of the Atlantic Forest ecology field course, she has put on workshops for graduate students at the Institute of Biosciences of the University of São Paulo (IB-USP). “The aim was to teach them how to cope with the pressures and frustrations of academic life, and how to better communicate with colleagues and teachers,” explains Nalon.

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