By Tracy Shevlin | Photos by Robert Jinks
With a 37-year career in the United States Army that included serving as commanding general of Army Recruiting Command in Fort Knox, Ky., and deputy chief of staff for the Department of the Army, Personnel and Human Resources, Lt. Gen. Michael Rochelle knows a thing or two about human resources. Following his 2009 retirement from the military, Rochelle went on to form MDR Strategies, LLC, building upon his expertise in strategic human capital planning and executive coaching skills.
Based out of Manassas, the firm offers services such as executive coaching, mentoring program development and strategic planning to both public and private clients. Prince William Living reached out to Rochelle to learn more about human resources consulting and how these services can positively impact other businesses.
PWL: As you transitioned out of the Army, what was the process that led you to open MDR Strategies?
Rochelle: As I began the transition process, I consulted with a number of senior management personnel in trying to decide whether I would enter the corporate world or go into business for myself. During this time, one of the managers that I consulted with gave me the best advice that I continue to share with others. He told me, “Whether you intend to work for yourself or others, incorporate yourself…to take advantage of the publishing opportunities or consulting opportunities that would inevitably come up.” In the end, the desire to have autonomy and independence was the deciding factor.
Coaching didn’t come into the plan immediately. It happened in an “Aha moment” while working as a management consultant. In the midst of discussions with a CEO, it occurred to me that what he was really asking for or needing from me was to be coached. It was the first time that coaching had entered my thoughts for my business.
I was thoroughly intrigued by the possibility and what coaching, mentoring and training would look like in the civilian world. I found that there were a lot of coaches that did not have formal certification, but I felt that certification was important. I attended George Mason’s internationally accredited coach training program.
PWL: What types of services does MDR Strategies offer?
Rochelle: MDR Strategies offers a variety of human resource related services from executive search to executive and leadership coaching, and strategic organizational planning and strategic human capital planning.
The bulk of our business comes under the heading “Strategic Human Capital Consulting,” which is, essentially, having the right people in the right jobs, and with the appropriate skills, to achieve strategic goals. Every organization has a full spectrum of talent and many organizations can use help strategically aligning teams and talents to be their most effective. For example, we help organizations view their team’s performance through a lens of intellectual and human capacity. We can provide managers insight into their teams and assessments for existing staff to identify strengths and gaps. It is not just enough to fill a slot to have work completed.
In providing leadership coaching, we can help develop a depth in management that will help prepare the organization for its next generation of leadership.
PWL:What are the most common reasons that businesses seek assistance from a company like yours?
Rochelle: Regardless of the organization size or type, we are generally contacted when an organization faces a management challenge in which they have already invested resources trying to solve a problem. For example, there is an old military expression, “tired eyes,” meaning you have been looking at a problem for so long, it has become an accepted part of the fabric.
It’s easy to envision a process or procedure which has evolved over time, a process that may have been quite appropriate when it was initially conceived, but which has been rendered unnecessary or even detrimental in the current environment. Safety investigations frequently highlight such practices. However, because leaders and
managers can no longer see such practices discreetly, they can be said to have acquired “tired eyes.”
Occasionally, the management problem lends itself to leadership or executive coaching and vice versa. However, the issues have to be addressed through different lenses and can’t be handled simultaneously.
PWL: You told me about your involvement with George Mason’s Leadership Legacy program. Are you involved with
Leadership Prince William as well?
Rochelle: For the past two years, I have been working with Leadership Arlington and have donated four coaching sessions each year to the program. It occurred to me that there is currently not a coaching program in place with Leadership Prince William, and I have reached out to Leadership Prince William to offer them the same services that I have been providing in Arlington.
Giving back to my community is important to me. In addition to those services that I donate in Arlington, I also offer, on a limited, pro bono basis, transition coaching to those going through major life transitions. Some examples of major
transitions include those transitioning out of the military, graduating college and entering the workforce, as well as senior military personnel re-entering civilian life.
PWL: What would you say to those executives or business owners who might be hesitant to employ services such as yours?
Rochelle: In today’s economic climate, where resources are constrained, it takes a certain amount of courage and vision to invest in the intellectual capital of an organization.
As organizations become leaner in order to remain competitive, many have not brought back talent that was lost during the recession. The remaining employees are more versatile and valuable. Investing in human capital can help shape the next generation of leadership within the organization and sustain the business through its next phase.
If anyone has questions about whether they could benefit from these services, they should contact our office for a consultation. I can be reached via email at [email protected] or via our website at www.mdrstrategies.com.
Tracy Shevlin is a native Virginian and long-time Manassas resident. She is a full-time administrative assistant and part-time student at George Mason University, completing her degree in Business Communication.